SumTotal Blog

Craig Fearon (14 Posts)

Craig Fearon

Craig Fearon is a Senior Director, Product Management with SumTotal and a self-described “time & attendance geek.” With over 17 years optimizing time & attendance, scheduling, absence management and more, he’s mastered the art of incorporating complex requirements and unique customer feedback into a user-friendly system. Outside of work, Craig enjoys spending time with his wife Angela and their two four-legged children Juno (Rottweiler) and Vimy (Rottweiler/Shepherd Mix).

Nucleus Research Recognizes SumTotal as a Leader in Workforce Management

Nucleus Research Recognizes SumTotal as a Leader in Workforce Management

Managing an organization’s workforce is growing increasingly complex and challenging. From shrinking talent pools to figuring how to lower overtime costs yet schedule the appropriately skilled staff to ensure that employees time at work is properly tracked and sent to payroll for accurate processing, the roadblocks are diverse and numerous. Typically, organizations look to their workforce management (WFM) solutions to solve many of these issues.

There are many WFM vendors on the market and distinguishing one from another is not always easy, and of course, each vendor is going to see itself as the best. As a result, many organizations will turn to peer reviews or industry experts to determine who or what solution is best for them.

Nucleus Research is one of those experts that buyers look to and their most recent WFM Technology Value Matrix offers a comprehensive analysis of several vendors. Nucleus positions vendors on their delivery and overall value through the functionality and usability of their applications. Some of the key areas the research examines for WFM purposes include:

  • Scheduling
  • Self-service support
  • Overall usability
  • Deployment accelerators

SumTotal ranks as a Leader

According to the Nucleus research, here are several reasons why their analysts positioned SumTotal as a leader in WFM for the third year in a row.

  • SumTotal is a strong option for employers with complex needs in scheduling, particularly when it comes to complex union regulations.
  • Not only does SumTotal offer learning content from Skillsoft and other content providers, it has robust native capabilities that are not only unified but also embedded into workflows. These mesh with SumTotal Workforce Management to support complex rules in scheduling in the real world. This plays out something like this: a scheduling supervisor may try and schedule an employee for a specific job or position that they are not qualified to perform. When this happens the system will automatically prevent the supervisor from performing this function and they will need to find a qualified replacement.  In addition, the original employee can then be scheduled for the required training to ensure that they are qualified the next time they need to be scheduled to that position.  This alone has significant value to the organization by ensuring that the employee scheduled is as productive as possible through completion of the required training. It also reduces opportunities for workplace accidents.  Note that the lack of required training is one of the leading causes.
  • SumTotal Workforce Management is available via one of four deployment options – SaaS, SaaS EXT, SumTotal Private Cloud or on-premise. Not sure which one is best for you? Read my blog post 4 HCM Deployment Options That Provide Flexibility of Choice
  • 2019’s functionality updates which were called out in the Nucleus report include:
    • The ability to view and act on SumTotal Workforce Management data from areas like adherence to attendee policies in SumTotal’s Talent Management’s Performance Snapshots. For example, an employer now has access to objective data on the employee’s performance as it relates to no shows, arrived late, left early, and any other violations to the corporate attendance policy. In many cases, there is a clear correlation between adherence to attendance policies and the employee’s overall performance.  This provides the supervisor and employee with meaningful and objective data for a quick review through a Performance Snapshot.
    • An updated SumTotal Mobile application that now includes Workforce Management functionality in addition to Learning Management, Talent Management functionality for customers that use those SumTotal products.
    • Gamification support for organizations that want to award points and badges to employees for positive behavior as it relates to Workforce Management activities. With SumTotal, organizations can now award badges and points for positive employee behavior such as perfect attendance or improvements in attendance.
    • Expanded global presence with large deployments in Europe and Asia-Pacific.

And there is more to come…

SumTotal is always looking ahead. Whether we are reacting to customer requests or aligning to evolving technologies, we make it our business to provide a workforce management solution that meets the demands and expectations required by organizations for today’s agile economy.

This honor and recognition would not have been possible without the support of the full team at SumTotal including our development and quality assurance teams, product management, customer support, cloud operations (hosting), marketing, sales and more.  It takes a full team to deliver a world-class workforce management solution that ranks as a leader in the market.

Want to find out more how SumTotal Workforce Management can help your organization?

4 HCM Deployment Options That Provide Flexibility of Choice

4 HCM Deployment Options That Provide Flexibility of Choice

How companies deploy their Human Capital Management (HCM) and business systems are now subject to greater scrutiny due to rising employee demands and expectations. No longer is it sufficient for solution providers to only offer a single deployment model to customers. It is now essential that companies can select from a range of deployment options to choose the best fit and meet their unique requirements.

SumTotal is one of the only solution providers that offer organizations a choice of deployment options – Software as a Service (SaaS), Private Cloud or On-Premise in the customer’s data center. We are now offering a fourth option – SaaS EXT. This new deployment model is similar to SaaS but gives customers the added benefit of an extended testing period and fewer changes for their end users while still being on the current release.

No other vendor offers this flexibility, thus enabling customers to select the model that works best for them rather than the vendor. Furthermore, regardless of which hosting model you choose, there is no difference in the software. Unlike many vendors in this market who offer one product for SaaS and a different product for On-Premise or Private Cloud, SumTotal’s deployment models use the same product and code base. Again the differentiation for our customers is that they don’t have to sacrifice functionality or flexibility based on their preferred deployment model.


With this deployment model, customers are always on the latest release of our solution giving customers immediate access to all new updates and patches. Unlike some SaaS models, all customer databases are dedicated to their use, ensuring the highest level of security. The SaaS option is ideally suited to customers who always want to be on the latest version and take advantage of the latest enhancements and new features. Our SaaS offering is designed for customers of all sizes, from SMB to Fortune 100, and delivers the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).


We designed this deployment model for customers who want to be current but require longer testing cycles than traditionally are available in a SaaS model. Otherwise, SaaS EXT offers similar advantages to traditional SaaS. For upgrades and patches, customers receive more notice and an extended testing period. SaaS EXT is an excellent choice for customers in regulated industries who require more detailed testing and/or validation time and who want to reduce the number of changes for their end users while still being on a current release. SaaS EXT offers customers a middle ground between SaaS and Private Cloud deployment models.

Private Cloud

Private cloud is your traditional hosting subscription model that provides customers with control over the timing of upgrades. To minimize disruption, cost and customer effort, this model accommodates at least one major upgrade per year. This model is best suited to customers who require the maximum possible control from a vendor-hosted option.


On-premise is a self-hosted deployment model that gives customers the broadest level of control as the application is deployed in the customer’s data center and is completely managed and controlled by the customer’s IT staff. The on-premise model best suits organizations that demand complete control over their HCM and business applications in their own data centers managed by their IT staff.

Another unique attribute of our deployment models is that as a customer’s business needs and requirements change, their deployment model can change with the organization. For example, the organization may currently want to manage all HCM and business applications in their data center. But fast forward two years, priorities may change, and the customer may decide that they want to move to a vendor-hosted model. SumTotal has this scenario covered as we can easily migrate customers from one model to another as their business needs change and evolve. There is no rip and replace with a different product or version like many other vendors in this market. Instead, we seamlessly move each customer to their new preferred model.

Our choice of four deployment options is just further proof that SumTotal is cognizant of the many challenges organizations face from the constant barrage of legislative, reporting requirements and compliance regulations.

To discuss which model is right for you, please contact SumTotal.

Why Buddy Punching is No Friend to Employers

Why Buddy Punching is No Friend to Employers

The American Payroll Association (APA) estimates that 75 percent of employers suffer time theft losses from their employees, accounting for about 2.2 percent of gross payroll.

So how does someone steal time?

Time theft or time fraud occurs when an employer is paying an employee for work, but that employee is intentionally not available or unable to perform the designated tasks. I’ll clarify more in a minute, but first I want to make it clear that time theft is not excused paid absences such as vacation time or even unexcused absences where the employee is not receiving remuneration. Time theft happens when an employee is getting paid with an expectation that they are working when in reality they are not.

For example:

Joe wants to leave work early today because he feels he needs to get to the music store to pick up strings for his guitar. The store closes at 5:00 pm and is on the other side of the town. However, Joe’s shift ends at 5:30 pm. Joe really needs those strings for a gig tonight with his band “In Debt – No Talent.” Joe does not want to take time off as unpaid or vacation. Instead, he asks his buddy Ivan if he will swipe him out at the end of the shift. Joe had done this for Ivan and others before and they were never caught. Joe sneaks out the back door unnoticed by his supervisor. Ivan agrees. After all, he owes him.

Joe leaves at 3:30 pm.

Joe makes $22.75 an hour plus vacation pay. By sneaking out at 3:30 pm and yet getting paid for working until 5:30 pm, he has received $45.50 from his employer for work he did not perform.

Despite how it is seen by most, buddy punching is no different from stealing out of petty cash.

Buddy punching is just one-way time theft occurs; there are many others and employees have become quite creative with how they execute such behavior.

  • Arriving late/leaving early
  • Taking long lunches and extra meal breaks
  • Padding time sheets by adding time not worked or just guessing at hours worked
  • “Forgetting” to clock on/off
  • “Sleeping” on the clock

When evaluating time theft, I don’t usually consider employees who are engaging in personal activities at work such as browsing the internet or making personal calls as guilty of this behavior. While these employees are receiving payment for actions that are not work-related, in most cases it is not a deliberate action to steal pay from their employer. These actions may result in a drop in productivity as technically the employee is still available to do work. I see this as a supervision, or lack thereof, issue.

The immediate costs associated with time theft are the payroll costs. Take an organization with 2,500 hourly employees. On average the hourly wage is $22.65, and each employee works 261 days per year. If half engage in time theft of 15 minutes per day, it means approximately $1,847,390.60 is “stolen” from the employer every year.

Unfortunately for employers, the costs don’t stop there. There is a multitude of other expenses and issues that can arise when time theft is rife in an organization:

  • Reduced productivity as the shift or team is running short-staffed. This can lead to overtime to complete the required tasks.
  • Employee morale issues can arise as employees that don’t engage in time theft resent those that do – especially if they have to pick up their workload!
  • Not keeping time theft in check creates a culture of entitlement which can result in additional abuses by employees.

How employers can fight time theft

Additional supervision can control time theft, but the real key is the implementation of a modern workforce management (WFM) solution such as SumTotal Workforce Management. An automated solution tackles time theft at the point where it occurs – during clock on and off processes by employees. Start by upgrading from outdated punch card time clocks or even card swipe time clocks to biometric clocks. With biometric time clocks, an employee must physically clock on or off using a finger. As the time clock stores an image, not a fingerprint, of the employee’s finger, it becomes the only way to identify and validate an employee.

If your organization can not use biometric timeclocks, some vendors, including SumTotal, can enable a camera on the timeclocks to capture an image of the employee performing the clock on or off transaction. Audits can be used to validate that the employee who conducted this operation is the actual employee and not a “buddy punch.”

Beyond eliminating buddy punching, an automated WFM solution can also establish rules and then track employee clock on and off times to ensure that they are adhering to these and getting paid accordingly. This can also ensure the accurate capture of late arrivals, early departures and long lunches or breaks. Not only can the employee’s pay be reduced accordingly but also this behavior can be monitored and corrective actions taken by supervisors and HR.

Controlling time theft is just one benefit of a modern workforce management solution. The benefits go well beyond into reduced processing costs, accurate time collection for payroll, improved scheduling and visibility into gaps in the schedule, up to the minute accruals and comprehensive absence management, to name just a few.

Discover how SumTotal Workforce Management can help your business.

SumTotal Workforce Management is Outpacing Competitors


Nucleus Research just published their Workforce Management Technology Value Matrix 2018.  For the second year in a row, Nucleus positioned SumTotal Workforce Management in the Leader quadrant. I’m also happy to say that as a reflection of all our continued innovation and commitment to our customers, SumTotal moved further to the right, reinforcing and solidifying our position in the market.

Why SumTotal WFM is moving on up

While I could happily go on espousing all the wonderful ways the SumTotal WFM solution deserves this recognition, I think it best if we hear what Nucleus Research, independent industry analysts, have to say.

For example, the report’s authors, Brent Skinner and Trevor White, write that SumTotal’s “usability and functionality are improving faster than the average for the market.” They also recommend SumTotal as a consideration for compliance-driven organizations, “especially when an employer’s workforce requires up-to-date credentialing (e.g., certifications, licensing).”

As noted in the report, we are the only vendor in the market with out-of-the-box functionality that validates an employee’s training and certification requirements when they are being scheduled. This unique capability gives organizations the assurance that only those employees correctly trained and certified for the position are scheduled, mitigating risk and ensuring compliance.

To learn just how crucial this is, and why it is so important, I recommend checking out the Mitigate Your Risk by Validating Employee Training and Certification webinar.

Nucleus also called out our “flexibility and nimbleness in handling complex scheduling and benefits management for wage employees.” SumTotal’s WFM solution is designed so that we can assist organizations with managing and administering very complex rules and requirements, especially those found in union environments, and in particular if there many collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) in place. One customer we work with has over 100 different CBAs, each one with additional degrees of intricacy.

Customer feedback

At the end of the day, it is still best when you hear that the people you work for are happy. So, I was delighted to read in the report that “Nucleus’s analysis of users finds them highly satisfied with their SumTotal WFM deployments overall.” As a vendor in a highly complex workforce management market, it is easy to deliver innovation, but it is much harder to achieve high marks for customer satisfaction.  It is very satisfying to hear this and know that our customers are confident and putting their trust in SumTotal to manage their time & attendance, scheduling, and absence management requirements.

Also, I would like to thank the SumTotal Workforce Management team, our Customer Support, Professional Services, Cloud Operations, Engineering, Product Management, Sales teams and all others who not only deliver service and support to a world-class solution but also make our customer’s satisfaction their top priority. Well done!

Read more about why SumTotal is a Leader by downloading a complimentary copy of Nucleus Research’s Workforce Management Technology Value Matrix 2018 report.  Then, learn out more about SumTotal Workforce Management and how our solution can help you better manage your workforce with time & attendance, scheduling and absence management!



Top 5 Trends from the 36th Annual American Payroll Association Congress


I’m just back from the 36th Annual American Payroll Association (APA) Congress and Expo, at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.  It was another successful event – lots of engaging keynotes and thought-provoking training sessions. The weather was also very interesting – the severe storms in DC delaying flights and causing travel chaos for many. Despite the daily deluge of rain, spirits remained high, and neither the enthusiasm nor the energy of the attendees dampened.

A little background to the APA Congress

Just in case anyone is unfamiliar with the APA Congress, here’s a brief overview. With over 1,800 attendees, 180+ educational sessions and 100+ exhibitors, it is the largest conference and expo focused on payroll and associated disciplines in the world. It is the event for payroll professionals, and while the focus of the event is on the US, there was a significant presence from many international payroll associations and professionals including representations from Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Australia.

This diversity of experience and knowledge makes the Congress essential for anyone working in payroll/HCM. Not only do you leave with a ton of new information and insight, but you also come away with a greater sense of what your peers are doing and thinking.

This year I came away a very real sense that payroll as a profession is moving to more of a strategic function.  To highlight this, here are 5 key trends and topics that payroll professionals face:

#1 – Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) violations are still occurring and are costly

We are still seeing many incidents of FLSA violations by employers.  While the number of cases is slightly down, the dollar amounts awarded to employees is increasing.  A large portion of these violations are the result of inaccuracies regarding payments for time worked especially concerning overtime, meal breaks, on-call and other time-related areas.  In the past four years, the Department of Labor recovered over $1B in back wages for employees as a result of violations.

#2 – The “Gig Economy” is driving changes to the frequency of payroll

To encourage retention organizations are looking at different and creative types of benefits and structures. For many this means implementing more frequent payroll cycles; payments are now weekly and even daily for some organizations. One presenter spoke of a company that provides such an offer and although there was a slight premium, over 80% chose the daily payment option. This had the knock-on effect of forcing their competitors to provide a similar remuneration scheme.

The downside to such a system though is that daily payroll adds significant complexities and challenges to your processing, so consider all factors before deciding to offer this.

#3 – Talent Is the top CEO concern

Josh Bersin from Bersin by Deloitte gave one of the keynote presentations and talked about how CEOs see the recruitment and retention of talent as a major problem. Granted, at first this seems unrelated to payroll, but the current approach to driving employee engagement is by consolidating payroll, time & attendance with Talent and Learning solutions, the consequence of which means payroll is moving from a peripheral role to a more central one.

#4 – As the world turns, do does changes to tax and legislation

Another year and another round of changes to tax and legislative changes for payroll departments to manage. Signed on December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is having a major impact on payroll departments, as it impacts a wide range of changes for standard deductions, elimination of the personal exemption, child tax credits, employer-provided assistance and benefits, W-4’s and much more. And that’s just at the federal level!  Depending on your state and municipal area, there may be even more changes.  Processing payroll accurately is getting more and more complicated!

#5 – Artificial intelligence, machine learning and personal assistants are coming!

Everyone at the Congress was talking about artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and personal assistants and what these technologies will mean for payroll, HR departments, supervisors, and employers.  At the minute the consensus is that all this new technology will not only help make better and more informed decisions, it will also enable us to handle routine tasks better.  Many also believe these technologies can remove, or even eliminate, unconscious bias from the workplace. How? Primarily by taking the human out of some of the decision-making process and using machine learning, an objective entity, to predict for example which employees will violate attendance policies and recommend corrective action.

It is an exciting time for payroll and I look forward to seeing how as a profession we embrace the changes that are ahead. The APA continues to play an essential part in this journey, and if you are not already a member, I recommend joining.

Next year, the Congress is in Long Beach, California. Let’s hope the golden state lives up to its name.

I look forward to seeing you there.

How Mismanagement of Employee Absences Is Costing Companies Money


On any given day Bureau of Labor research shows that 3% of the workforce is absent, costing the US economy $84 billion a year in lost productivity, breaking down to an estimated $1,685 per employee.

And it’s a cost expected to grow in tandem with the changing demographics of the workforce. By 2020 there will be five generations working together, meaning five different approaches to absences.


In the workplace, this diversity of attitude can translate into the following scenario:

“East is late again,” Phyllis muttered under her breath. “What kind of name is East anyway?” The 19-year-old often strolled into work around the time when he was supposed to clock in. “Chill” is what the other younger workers call it. Pure laziness is what Phyllis thought! If she had been “chill” in her younger days, she would have been out on her ear in the blink of an eye.

“Phyllis is SUCH a downer,” East texted to his colleague. “She’s always glaring, and I think she must have some vendetta against me on a personal level. LOL! I’m just going to stay away from her!”

This difference of viewpoints adds to the impact of absences and can result in conflict in the workplace.


What can you do?

While employees are entitled to take time off, there are measures all organizations should be taking to help manage absences and ensure employees are adhering to company policy.

This solution is called a formal Absence Management system and it will:

  • Track paid and unpaid absences
  • Ensure labor law, workplace standard, and safety regulation compliance – crucial given there are on average 200 labor laws change each year
  • Provide real-time accrual visibility and validation
  • Provide a formal supervisor approval process
  • Communicate company policy regarding time-off and what documentation is required when employees are absent.
  • Ensure employees receive the accruals and absences that they are entitled to receive

We’d also add it is essential that any such system is easy-to-use and offer self-service capabilities to ensure you reap maximum benefit by bringing the system directly to employees wherever, whenever and however they access it.

But its function isn’t simply to regulate or maintain records; it also gives you the data to identify problem areas, which in turn allows you to get proactive about managing your absence programs and policies including:

  • Identify trends
  • Evaluate working conditions
  • Review corrective wellness programs
  • Enforce disciplinary actions
  • Make better staffing decisions
  • Educate and empower managers
  • Monitor and adjust your employee absence strategy and policies

With multiple generations working together, Absence Management systems and practices perform a necessary function of ensuring objectivity and equity in how absences are handled. In turn, this creates a better work environment, one where regardless of an employee’s position or age, they know and understand what will happen when they choose not to go to work.

Learn more about the costs of employee absences in a multigenerational workforce. Listen to this webinar and download an Infographic.







A Review Of Perspectives 2018 From A Workforce Management Perspective



Perspectives, our annual user conference, took place recently. I’m still exhausted from the few days at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but I’m also energized. As the song says, “The future looks bright” and since how we manage our workforce is the bedrock of any organization, let’s take a look back at Perspectives from a Workforce Management viewpoint.

Josh Bersin’s keynote, “Learning in the Flow of Work” was very engaging and, as always, Josh loaded us up with insightful data. Here are three key points I took away that relate to Workforce Management:

Look internally to develop your workforce.

The cost of training an internal candidate is a fraction of the cost of hiring externally.  Too many organizations do not consider their current talent pool and instead rely on the hiring process vs. promoting and training from within.  Training and promoting internally results in a more engaged and productive workforce and lowers your overall costs.

Embed learning into the flow of work.

Learning is not just driven by your Learning Management System (LMS), it must be available and easily accessed on the various applications that your employees use on a daily basis. A good example is being able to take an online course to be certified to bid on an available shift.  Providing this level of embedded learning engages all of your employees – especially your hourly employees. 

The best way to learn is to practice and repeat using the training provided. 

This is a no-brainer when you think about how we naturally learn.  However, too many companies are not putting enough emphasis on the practice component of learning, resulting in a reduced value from training, and in some cases, leads to a reduction in productivity.

Brent Skinner from Nucleus Research presented a session on the Measurable Impact of Workforce Management Integrated with Core HR, Learning, and Talent.  I have had the pleasure of working with Brent many times, and true to form, he delivered an excellent presentation.  Brent focused on the five factors that drive value: Breadth, Repeatability, Risk, Collaboration, and Knowledge.  He also walked through Nucleus’ 4 orders of ROI – Direct, Semi-Direct, Indirect and Very Indirect.  Historically companies often discount Very Indirect Savings as these relate more to areas such as improvement in employee engagement.  However, in today’s business reality, where attracting and retaining top talent for both salaried and hourly employees is challenging, more and more CEOs and CFOs are paying attention to the Very Indirect Savings as they relate to employee engagement.

Several studies put the cost of hiring minimum wage hourly employees at around $3,500 per hire, with this figure increasing exponentially in line with the employee’s hourly wage.  If you have low engagement which results in high turnover, your recruiting costs alone are significant. There is an easy remedy. Providing increased self-service and offering employees more input into their schedule improves engagement and retention, thereby reducing such costs.

On the topic of self-service, my colleague, Rita Battista, and I presented a session on the Evolution of Self-Service in HR.  Rita and I discussed how self-service in Workforce Management could increase employee engagement, reduce costs and result in significant savings for organizations that embrace this functionality.

One of our customers presented a very informative session on how they track and manage their employee’s adherence to their attendance policies.  Our customer spoke in detail about how they implemented Occurrence Tracking, a component of SumTotal Workforce Management, and how they used a points-based approach to change employee behavior around starting work on time, long lunches and no-shows. While this customer has significantly increased adherence to their attendance policy, they also made significant changes recently to their Occurrence Tracking. They now focus on the areas that produce the most significant drop in productivity and less on minor infractions such as being 5 minutes late for the start of your shift.

My colleagues, Warren Gouws and Norman Ford, presented a fascinating session on increasing compliance through Workforce Management.  They spoke about the risks and potential costs as a result of employees improperly trained or certified for the jobs they are scheduled to do. The harsh reality is that in the US, every day 14 employees die on the job. While we will never eliminate accidents, we can change behavior and actions on the job through ensuring open access to learning for all employees.

SumTotal has now bridged the gap that exists in traditional standalone LMS by providing a unified offering between SumTotal Learn, now loaded with Skillsoft Compliance content, and SumTotal Workforce Management that will validate that employees possess the relevant training/certification to complete the assigned task/role. Beyond the financial risks of not providing sufficient training for employees, companies have a moral and legal obligation to their employees to offer effective training.

If you were not able to make Perspectives this year, I encourage you to start thinking about attending in 2019.  You will come away with many new ideas to bring back to your organization not only to reduce costs but also increase your employee engagement!

Worried About Workforce Management Compliance Issues? Read On.


Just before 2017 drew to a close, HR Dive conducted a reader poll, one particular result of which might surprise some of you. Turns out more than half of the respondents said that their top compliance concern for 2018 were state and local laws and not, as most believe, issues around family and medical leave, EEO-1 reporting or joint employer liability.

When I read this, I thought how interesting given that just recently my colleague, Mike Van Doren, wrote about the many ways workforce management solutions are underused as tools for ensuring compliance, particularly where it applies to assisting organizations address employee issues such as overtime notifications, certifications and whether employees possess the correct and relevant competency that complies with local/state or federal regulations, fatigue management and missed meals. All of which are issues that can and do vary from state to state and even within a state.

Recent news headlines demonstrate that this concern is justified.  There are many examples of lawsuits and settlements for legislative compliance violations, particularly for FLSA breaches. Only recently I read about a large settlement- just under $4m- paid out by a health care provider who had been sued by a number of employees alleging that the organization had automatically deducted meal breaks whether they were taken or not. This had the direct result of large numbers of employees being underpaid.

Whether it is over unpaid overtime, missed meals, off the clock work, “on-call” payments, unpaid work or a variety of other violations, lawsuits are costly for organizations. The monetary settlements alone when a company is found guilty of a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violation are high and typically cover legal costs for the plaintive and may also involve punitive fines and damages.

Beyond the financial loss, organizations risk damaging their corporate credibility when not complying with FLSA requirements.  Typically most of these lawsuits are highly publicized and attract a lot of unwanted media attention, additionally they can cause problems with recruiting and retaining top talent.  Employees do not want to work for an organization that whether intentionally or unintentionally does not accurately pay them for their time worked.  Employees may fear retributions by not reporting inaccuracies that they uncover and simply will leave the organization rather than draw attention to the problem.

It is incumbent upon each employer to ensure compliance to FLSA and the myriad of local, state, federal and even international legislative, regulatory and union/contract requirements.  To find out the minimum meal period length required in your state, check here.

Organizations are not in it alone. A robust and integrated Workforce Management solution can assist in this pursuit, can provide payroll with the accurate time that an employee has worked and ensure that employees are accurately paid.

Find out how SumTotal’s Workforce Management can help your organization ensure compliance with FLSA and other legislative requirements.

Happy 2018!

Why hourly employees need performance reviews

Why hourly employees need performance reviews

I think it’s safe to say that popular wisdom would lead us to believe that giving hourly employees performance reviews is a colossal waste of time and resources; that the sheer volume and high turnover rates of such workers means investing the time to perform reviews is not good business practice.

But this mindset is changing, in part as a response to the growing number, and therefore impact, of hourly workers on business today. The latest US Department of Labor data revealed a surprising statistic. More than 78 million Americans, or almost 59% of the US workforce, are paid on an hourly basis.

These large numbers mean that if the turnover rate in your organization is high, you have a problem.  The Center for American Progress estimates the costs of replacing a $10 per hour worker is at least $3,000, which alone may not appear significant, but usually a company will have a larger number of hourly employees making this rather more costly.

But a 2017 Retention Report by the Work Institute revealed that many, 75% to be exact, of the reasons employees leave such jobs are preventable.

So what can you do?

While there are many measures to be taken, starting with the employee evaluation and performance review process is an excellent first step.

Performance reviews perform an important function, and I’m not just talking about rating how well someone is completing a task. No, I’m talking about something a little deeper.

The top four purposes performance reviews serve

#1 Giving a staff member a sense of belonging, of noting when they are putting in extra effort and acknowledging them for a job well done, or conversely providing guidance when their work is not meeting expectations.

#2 Providing feedback on adherence to time & attendance policies – both positive and negative, if applicable. Showing them the number of times they were late, left early, took long lunches, unpaid days off, and even how much sick time they have used.

#3 Identifying any areas for improvement, training and possibly advancement.

#4 Demonstrating their value to the organization, which in turn will lead to them valuing the organization and less likely to leave.

Of course, the very nature of the hourly worker can make scheduling a review a problem in itself.  When or how should such evaluations take place in the hourly workplace?  Suggestions for accommodating the work schedule and not overburdening the employee (or you) include keeping the performance review short and limited to say 15 minutes, scheduling the review for outside of peak times, ensuring that you are not leaving the workplace understaffed, and using online performance tools to optimize your face-to-face time.  Get creative!  There will be gaps in the schedule where this can be fit in – just work around them.

A study on America’s hourly workforce illustrates the length of time employees stay in their jobs is often an indication of how engaged they are — in other words, how much they care about their jobs and put effort into their work but also know that they are valued by the organization. It is in your interest to encourage and engage all employees, not just your salaried staff.

We can help you achieve this. Our SumTotal Talent Expansion Suite includes the tools and real-time feedback you need, including performance reviews and time & attendance tracking, to help you optimize and better engage your entire workforce.

It’s simple. Start here with a discovery call.

Looking for a better way to manage employees who arrive late to work?


Consider the following scenarios…

Emily constantly shows up late for work.  She takes long lunches and frequently leaves work early on the days that she actually bothered to show up. However since Emily is a top performer when she is present, the supervisor neither tries to correct this behavior nor has the supervisor ever formally disciplined this employee.

Frank is the exact opposite. Always on time for work, Frank leaves only when his shift has ended and never takes long breaks or lunches.  One day, he gets a flat tire on the way to work and is 20 minutes late. His supervisor adheres to the company rules and writes up a formal disciplinary note for tardiness.

What went wrong? Or do you think nothing went wrong and the supervisor dealt with each employee in a fair and appropriate manner?

While it is true that the majority of organizations have established employee attendance policies that cover everything from expected arrival times, lunch and other break durations, when an employee may leave at the end of the day and perhaps some general guidelines for excused and unexcused absences, how these rules are interpreted and applied is a very different story.

It is an all too common story as almost every organization contends with this problematic issue. “Problematic” because employees want and need to be treated fairly and equally but human nature being what it is, this does not always happen.  When the gap is obvious it leads to employee disengagement, low morale and in some cases, legal action.

The complicated truth is that rule enforcement is complex and supervisors must take into account exceptions for the unexpected, whether that is anything from a flat tire to unexpectedly needing to look after a sick relative. Organizations therefore need to be realistic in their approach to the application of these policies, but this, this is the tricky part.

The question then is can you achieve fairness while adhering to the company rules?

Yes, with a Workforce Management system.

How will it solve this dilemma?

It achieves this by automatically managing attendance policies and by implementing systemized and streamlined processes regarding the management of employee attendance records, thereby taking the supervisor out of the equation. Now the supervisor is no longer viewed as “the enforcer” which fosters a more positive employee/supervisor work relationship.

Furthermore, we all know how inconsistent enforcement of policies takes a toll on employees’ morale and engagement, so any measures taken to remove the potential for disparity is beneficial to all. Low morale can lead to disengagement and disengagement comes with a hefty price tag. Studies show that that disengaged employees cost companies between $450 and $550 billion a year and with such high stakes, it makes sense to address such an important part of the employee experience.

Ready to make enforcing attendance policies a positive motivator for your workforce? Experience SumTotal Workforce Management as a Manager or as an Employee to start your journey.