Rob McLuhan reports on how one
company is using a software tool to control employees’ working hours – and reaping
Global chemical company Rhodia
is using a time and productivity management system acquired from
SmartPeopleTime to keep employees’ working hours in check.
The company first bought the
software to integrate with its payroll system, but then changed its working
practices to annualised hours and began using the tool to manage this, as well
as to record banked and reserve hours.
Rhodia uses the software to
rearrange shift patterns and ensure compliance with the working time
regulations. It is also used to help measure and improve productivity,
providing data to analyse the costs of producing each order and measuring
unproductive time, such as machine downtime. Cost analysis then gives a true
picture of what has occurred on the shop floor.
Since adopting the system, the
company has increased output by 30 per cent, eliminated overtime costs and
reduced absence by four per cent. Further cost savings of £300,000 were also
achieved in the first year through more accurate rostering.
Rhodia is now aiming for a less
controlled working time culture in which employees take responsibility for
their own hours. "We would like to eliminate the need for banked and
reserve hours," says administration and personnel manager Bob Ellis.
"All employees will be expected to work the hours that are required to
successfully complete business orders. This enables both factory and office
staff to work under the same contracts, helping to remove the ‘them and us’
The system can also be used to
run frequency reports that show managers the consequences of changing a shift
pattern. "For example, if we wanted to assess the possibility of giving
two employees the same holiday, it will show us the cover available and any
shortfall that may occur," says Ellis. "These reports are an
excellent way to ensure we are well prepared to meet our productivity levels.
"Despite moving towards a
salary-based culture, we still need to ensure we are meeting the record-keeping
requirements of the EU working time regulations. We must also calculate each
employee’s weekly average over our annual reference period.
is difficult to accurately keep a track of employees’ hours when they move from
one job to another. However, by using this tool, we are carefully monitoring
the total hours worked."