It’s time to retool your manufacturing workforce practices. Chances are your workplace looks a lot different from 6 months ago. Work schedules, locations, and hours all changed. Your supply chain, distribution networks, and standard operating procedures have taken a hit.

You improvised because there was no playbook. You kept the operation running. Now what? The sprint is over. It is time to adopt new workforce practices that make sense for the long run.

Social distancing impacts

Social distancing is trending this year. And its impact to work schedules in manufacturing is acute. Even small companies with low headcount struggle with scheduling. After all, employee health and business continuity are at stake.

Here are common questions impacting schedules and shift management:

  • How do we manage teams for social distancing and still get product out the door?
  • Who can work from home and how do we manage them?
  • What happens if our supply chain is disrupted?
  • How can teams handle inventory without cross-contamination?
  • What impact do new rules for shipping impact shift schedules?
  • How long can we afford inefficiency?
Retool, Retrench, and Rebuild Framework

In the face of dramatic change and uncertainty, many manufacturing companies choose to adapt and alter the way they work. Retooling success requires new workforce practices that unleash your full potential.

Shift management practices

Schedules cannot be simply posted in the break room anymore. Indeed, schedules must be available to employees wherever they are. With everything online it is easy to see shift assignments. And if an employee takes time off, others see the shift open. Plus, managers can easily adjust shifts when everything is online. Rethink your shift management as part of your effort to retool manufacturing workforce practices.

Key elements of employee scheduling are:

  • Efficient, informed shift assignment. The best schedules consider employee preferences, required certifications/licenses, and compliance rules. An automated system takes the pain out of creating staggered shifts and other social distancing impacts to scheduling.
  • Adjustable schedules. Your employee schedules should be flexible. Make it easy to reassign shifts when employees need time off. Better yet, let employees pick up open shifts. That way if you need more hands on-deck, you have ready volunteers.
  • Enforceable schedules. Tie your schedules to your timekeeping system. You can keep your teams from overlapping by enforcing clock-in time. You can also see when employees are in the wrong geofenced area.

Social distancing and timekeeping concerns

Why track employee time? Because you gain better insight and control of labor costs and productivity. And, employees know what to expect in their paycheck. Timekeeping is a must when employees are spread between buildings, shifts, customer sites, and home.

Here are some common questions on timekeeping:

  • How can I get my employees to clock in if they are not at the factory?
  • Are physical clocks safe for those who do clock in?
  • Should we require salaried staff to clock in and out like hourly staff?
  • How do we know if employees are where they should be when they clock in?

“While 30% of employees surveyed worked remotely at least part of the time before the pandemic, Gartner analysis reveals that post-pandemic, 41% of employees are likely to work remotely at least some of the time.” Gartner

Timekeeping and remote work best practices

Simply put, what worked before may not suit your new employee schedules and locations. Consider these practices for your go-forward timekeeping.

  • Track all time. Accurate time data sheds light on product cost, production schedules, cash flow, and profit/loss calculation. Time data serves as an audit trail for labor disputes. Tracking time for employees is also an important way to document eligibility for SBA loan forgiveness under the payroll protection program.
  • Make it easy. Complicated systems are rarely used properly. Make it simple for employees and managers to track and review time data. Automatically record details such as job code and department.
  • Pick the right clocks. If your factory needs a physical clock, use one. A touch-less clock can help protect your employees from contamination. Give remote employees a mobile or web-based option.
  • Capture breaks. Make it easy for employees to clock out for breaks. Keep them from clocking back in too early.
  • Create geofences. Draw a fence around where employees should be at clock in. Verify in real time that they are there.
  • Oversee overtime. See when employees are clocking too many hours, clocking in late, leaving early, applying their hours to the wrong job, and making other mistakes. Catch errors early, correct behaviors, and plan properly to minimize impact on cash flow and milestones.

“We actually incurred more cost on the old timekeeping system. We no longer pay for time not worked, and employees have more latitude for breaks. It has actually made us more efficient with less unaccounted time.” —Snyder Engineering

Leave management practices

Most companies offer time off of some form to their employees. Government programs require businesses to track employee time off by category. Tracking balances and processing requests can be tricky.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to spreadsheets and paper-based systems. Leave-related practices that benefit both employees and business. include:

  • Set company leave policy. Document your leave policy. Make sure it meets governing laws and that your employees understand their options.
  • Create leave categories. Capture the reason for leave. Create a separate category to track COVID-related leave in accordance with governing rules for sick, family care and childcare.
  • Accrue or allocate by category. You probably accrue time off by either calendar time or hours worked. COVID-related leave categories likely require an allotment rather than accrual.
  • Share balances with employees. Give employees direct online access to their leave balances for all categories of leave. This is a time saver for all involved. Employees are more likely to submit valid requests, which are less likely to get lost or mishandled.
  • Capture requests online. Let employees request time off online. With easy access to balances, they will make fewer mistakes. Requests won’t get lost and there will be more time to fill the open shift.
  • Analyze leave trends. Managers can use leave data to make important business decisions. For example, if analysis shows more sick leave in the spring, managers can build some redundancy into the spring schedule or do more cross-training to add flexibility in the workforce.

Tie your leave management system into timekeeping and scheduling systems. That way you can see the impact of leave on schedules. It is a key step as you retool manufacturing workforce practices.

Hiring and onboarding practices

Online job boards have replaced traditional forms of employment advertising. Making your voice heard above other employers may seem difficult. Here are some steps you can take to win the race for talent.

  • Post to multiple job boards. The more places candidates can find you the better. Use an automated applicant tracking system to simplify the process and save time.
  • Automate prescreening. An applicant tracking system can automatically evaluate each application and resume. This prescreening accelerates initial evaluation and saves time for both administrators and managers.

“With ApplicantStack, we now easily post to multiple job boards and automatically prescreen applicants based on a required application and questionnaire. The most qualified applicants are easy to see in the ApplicantStack dashboard. We also get fewer unqualified applicants because they self-select out during the application process.” – MRV Bank

  • Interview. Coordinate for simultaneous or consecutive video interviews and gather feedback on each candidate. Feedback ratings get combined to help identify the best candidate for the job offer.
  • Communicate. Be sure to stay in touch with the candidate throughout the hiring process with phone calls, email or text. Studies show that text is often the most successful channel of communication with younger applicants.
  • Make your offer. The finish line is in sight, but there is critical work ahead. You need to run background checks and drug screens, plus confirm all certifications and licenses. Automate these processes to quickly convert candidates into new hires.
  • Onboard new hire. Onboarding begins with paperwork: tax forms, direct deposit details, personal and emergency contact information, and the company handbook. Automated onboarding ensures consistency, and gets paperwork out of the way so employees can focus on their job.

“ApplicantStack has made onboarding much easier…. Everything is online. New hires can fill out the paperwork at home. I can monitor their progress. When the new hire arrives, all the paperwork is in place and training can begin.” — Swickard Auto Group

Tools for manufacturing workforce practices

View your workforce practices from a new perspective. Retool manufacturing workforce practices for timekeeping, leave management, employee scheduling, and hiring/onboarding. These changes will give you advantage for years to come. SwipeClock specializes in Human Resources Management System software for small and medium-sized business. Our customers rely on us for hiring and applicant tracking, onboarding and HR management, time and attendance tracking and employee scheduling.

  • Time & Attendance Tracking. TimeWorksPlus makes attendance tracking simple and accurate, providing the insight and record you need to manage your workforce. Now it is easy to comply with leave, overtime, shift length, and break rules.
  • Leave Management Tracking. You set the categories you need and the rules for accrual or allocation. Your employees submit requests for sick, vacation, family first, or other leave using mobile devices. TimeWorksPlus keeps a complete record, so you have insight into PTO balances and proof of compliance.
  • Employee Scheduling. Schedulers rely on TimeSimplicity to help them build predictive schedules that allow last minute changes. Schedules are more transparent and adaptive, boosting attendance and morale for all.
  • Hiring and Onboarding. Streamline your hiring process with ApplicantStack and stay in touch by texting. Begin new hire onboarding right away.
  • HR Management. WorkforceHUB automates key HR workflows including onboarding, document distribution, and performance reviews. Give your employees 24/7 access to their payroll records including pay stubs, W2/1099/1095, address, W4, and direct deposit details. Keep employees in the know.

SwipeClock products are easy to setup and use. Your team can be up and running quickly and completely touch-free. Our software is entirely cloud-based. Our physical clocks, if needed, are easy to install. There are no extensive training requirements.