Are you struggling to schedule your employees’ rosters, manage changing shifts and staff unavailability? Do you find it difficult to keep complete and accurate timesheets? Do you need to regularly communicate important information to your staff, potentially across multiple locations and areas? Is finding a replacement staff member for a shift a time consuming and painful process involving text messages and phone calls? Technology and mobile apps have managed to solve a lot of these headaches and, as an added bonus, have made Award interpretation and pay runs so much quicker and easier.
Although client requirements need to be carefully reviewed before software add-on solutions are recommended, we find ourselves often coming back to Deputy as the preferred option. I’m going to look at five different areas where employers sometimes struggle and how Deputy can help solve your problems.
Rostering or Scheduling in Deputy
It all begins with scheduling, or rostering. The responsible manager needs to understand the different roles that need to be filled, when they need to be filled, and who can fill them. This involves understanding and remembering casual employee availability and approved leave requests, as well as any limits on the total number of hours that an employee is able to work, due to a visa or other restrictions.
In addition, the total cost of the week’s shift should ideally be known before the schedule is published and distributed to employees. If you’re working in a retail environment, being able to manage employee costs against predicted or historical sales can make a big difference to ensuring that profits are maximised.
Deputy assists the employer to manage all of these challenges and scenarios. Deputy can be set up for:
- Multiple physical locations, and those locations can be split into areas. Using a mobile phone app, employees can input their availability. For example, if they’re going to uni or they have regular sporting commitments, they can indicate that they are permanently unavailable at certain times on certain days.
- Applying for leave and submitting the request for approval. Published schedules are available on employees’ mobile apps, so they won’t need to photograph the printed roster hanging in the staff room.
- Syncing schedules to employees’ calendar systems so that they don’t even need to log into the Deputy app to check their work schedule.
Staff can also have training levels applied, so that when a position needs to be filled, managers are presented with the most appropriately trained employees first. Unavailable staff, staff on leave and untrained staff are also listed but indicated as such.
Depending on the settings, employees can be allowed to swap shifts among themselves, with or without manager approval. Open shifts that haven’t been filled can be offered to all suitably qualified staff via mobile app notifications and/or text messages, and these can be accepted on a first-in best-dressed basis. This is a great way to cover last-minute sick leave, or fill an additional shift created by last minute changes to the roster.
Time & Attendance & Timesheets
The next area that can be difficult to manage is staff clocking on and off and the generation and approval of timesheets. Deputy allows staff to clock on and off a few different ways.
- Settings allow employers to choose whether employees can clock on or off within a certain distance of the workplace, using geolocation technology in their smart phone.
- Staff can clock on via an iPad kiosk, where they enter their PIN. Photographs can be used to ensure that the staff member clocking on is in fact themselves.
- Using a web browser or SMS.
Both the geolocation and photo verification settings help stop time theft. Other optional settings include the ability to send reminders to managers and/or staff that employees have forgotten to clock on or off. Late staff can also be viewed by logging into Deputy using a browser.
Once the shifts have been completed, a manager can run a report to compare the scheduled hours against the timesheets. Rounding settings can automatically adjust clock-on and clock-off times to minimise the manual adjustment of timesheets. Audit settings ensure that original clock-on and clock-off times are retained, irrespective of any adjustments made to the final timesheets.
Once timesheets have been approved, the data can be imported into Xero payroll. There are two options. For casual staff, you would in all likelihood import the actual hours worked. In the case of part-time or full-time staff that work an averaging of hours’ system, these need not be imported into Xero but a record of the actual hours worked are retained for future reference.
The beauty of the integration between Deputy and Xero, if setup correctly, is that Xero will automatically pick the correct hourly rates, including overtime rates, that need to be paid. If staff get paid different hourly rates for different times of the day, the syncing of data will take care of this. This minimises errors that occur when manually adding up timesheets or selecting the right number of hours for each type of overtime for any given situation. The time taken to run payroll is significantly reduced.
Another handy feature of Deputy is that it allows for communication between the employer and the employee via posts in a news feed. This could be a post regarding a new product release for all staff, a reminder to everyone at a certain location to remember to switch off certain equipment at the end of the day or a specific comment assigned to one individual. All posts can be optionally be set require a confirmation from all readers.
Deputy tasks are similar to posts in the news feed, but they can include the option of setting a due date. Staff will receive a notification when it’s created and you’ll receive a confirmation when they’ve completed it. This is a handy way of reminding staff to perform specific tasks, especially when management aren’t around during their shift.
If staff provide exceptionally good service to customers, or are repeatedly late, notes can be left in journal entries. These journal entries can never be viewed by the employee themselves, even if they’re a System Administrator. It’s a great way for management to capture ad-hoc employee performance data.
All round, Deputy is an exceptionally high performing mobile solution with a clean and simple user interface to manage scheduling and timesheets in addition to communication, tasks and performance management. From a payroll perspective, the integration with payroll software alone makes the solution worthy of consideration. Mobile apps make life easier for employees to manage their shifts and time off. The time and therefore costs savings to employers in implementing this system can be quite considerable over the long run.
To see our Deputy page, including a video, click here.