Softworks Time and Attendance allows management to devolve responsibility to supervisors, operate an advanced management programme, comply with the Working Time Directive, save time and see a quick return on investment.
Solo Europe Ltd, based in Cambridgeshire, is one of the leading manufacturers of disposable food packaging products in the UK. Offering a full service of production as well as printing to its customers, Solo Europe’s plastic containers can be found extensively in the chilled food section in supermarkets as packaging for dairy desserts such as yoghurts and trifles, while the polystyrene and paper cups and lids are predominately sold into the fast food industry. Solo Europe is now a mature user of Softworks Time & Attendance from Softworks Computing, having been using the system for three years.
Solo Europe was previously operating a manual clocking system, which was becoming extremely costly, labour intensive and time consuming. On a weekly basis supervisors had to collate the time cards, manually add up all the hours, basic and overtime, which would then be sent to payroll, where any absence would be deducted, and the cards then archived. This was taking an excessive amount of time, and also very expensive both from the time involved in this process, as well as the cost of the cardboard clockcards, of which they were using about 15,000 each year. The inefficiency of this way of working lead Human Resources Manager, Barry Hughes, to review computerised Time & Attendance systems.
“We saw a number of systems,” says Barry Hughes, “but of all the ones we looked at, the Softworks system, Softworks, appeared to be the one that had the greatest flexibility and ease-of-use. We have over four hundred staff, and approximately forty different shift patterns, so it was imperative that the system we chose could cope with this.” Solo Europe, with great awareness and foresight, was also particularly concerned with having a system that could comply with the then recently introduced Working Time Directive. “At the time, none of the other systems we looked at had a Working Time Directive tracking facility. We weren’t looking at the system so much for saving costs in terms of absence, more for the Working Time Directive facility and the reporting capabilities,” continues Barry. However, the ability to manage absenteeism in conjunction with Softworks is proving invaluable.
According to Barry, one of the first things that appealed to him was the integral reporting capabilities of Softworks, which are very comprehensive. It helps me with labour turnover as well, as I can run reports on starters and leavers by department, by sex, by age, by taking data from Softworks and merging it into Excel or Word. We can even run a report on employee location – where they travel into work from – which helps us spot trends during periods of bad weather or traffic problems.” Each month the company accountants need an end-of-month report, which they use to compare with the previous month, and the system can run this automatically. “You can get the information easily, and it doesn’t take long at all,” says Barry.Solo Europe has broadened its use of Softworks. Now with devolved responsibility to supervisors, an advanced absence management programme, and a company that complies with the parameters of the Working Time Directive, Solo Europe is continuing to reap the benefits of the Softworks Time & Attendance system. These benefits include:
Responsibility for the operation of Softworks has been fully devolved to supervisors, releasing HR from time-consuming administration. Supervisors now have full involvement in the system, which they use to monitor the attendance, overtime and absence of their teams, and, overall response to the Softworks system has been very positive. “Supervisors are very favourable towards it, and consider it an essential part of their everyday management tools. It gives them data that they can use to show to employees as part of return to work interviews, as well as day-to-day management of attendance and overtime.
Solo Europe operates a rigorous absence management programme supported by the information obtained from Softworks The reporting facilities enable management to spot trends and patterns in absenteeism, giving them the information to manage any issues. “It’s interesting how people with children suddenly become sick during half-term and school holidays,” notes Barry. “Softworks is proving invaluable with the depth of information it generates.” The data produced from the system is used to support weekly meetings with line managers to discuss cases of absence, and any areas of concern. Solo Europe is also intending to extend these meetings to employees, thereby giving them ownership of their absenteeism and the effect it has on the morale of their colleagues, business in general, and reinforce their value to the company. Absence levels were extremely high three years ago, and are now down to 4% – therefore the cost of absence has been reduced considerably.
Solo Europe, as part of its absence management policy, has also implemented the use of the Bradford Factor absence report from Softworks. This formula works out levels of absenteeism based on a points system, which is worked out on frequency of absence, rather than duration, for a rolling year. Therefore, several short periods of absence are far worse than few, longer periods of absence. Solo Europe uses 250 points as its trigger point in dealing with cases of severe frequency of absence. “After this the individual would be monitored a lot more closely as to reasons of absence, and we would take whatever action necessary to resolve the issue, involving occupational health to monitor regularity and reasons,” says Barry. “It’s more damaging for us as a company to have 10 one-day absences than 1 ten-day absence as it’s so much more difficult to plan around.”Time Savings / Return on InvestmentTime-savings have been impressive, since the introduction of Softworks. Previously, it used to take 1.5-2 days per week in preparing the payroll report – it now takes less than an hour, which gives HR officers more time available to carry out more strategic projects. Add into this, not having to administer the cardboard clockcards, and the system paid for itself in well under a year in time-savings alone.
Barry Hughes is also particularly keen on the Working Time Directive tracking and reporting facility, which “just runs in the background, allowing us to collect data in case of an inspection by the Health & Safety Executive.” The system is also very easy to use, which is an added benefit. “I think the system is great,” says Barry. “I’m very pleased we chose this system – it’s very versatile and has given us the ability to manage costs and absenteeism so much more effectively, while controlling overtime and automating the processes, meaning we save so much time on the manual administration. We couldn’t do without it now.”
Solo Europe continues to improve its business processes through using data from Softworks, and as a rapidly growing manufacturing company it was essential that the system could grow with them. “I have seen other systems, and they couldn’t have done what we wanted them to. We are a rapidly expanding company, and the Softworks system will grow with us. The personal relationship we have established between the two companies is great. And I would have no hesitation in recommending the system to any company.”