Today’s guest blog post is courtesy of my Kronos colleague, Melissa Tetreau. Her perspective is that the time clock isn’t going away any time soon. What do you think?
A Brief History of Time (Clocks)
In 1979 while Gloria Gaynor was enjoying success with her hit song “I Will Survive”, Kronos released the first version of its punch card based time clock. Though the origins of the mechanical time clock date to the late 1800’s, the Kronos clock was the first to introduce microprocessor-based timekeeping to the market. From that moment on, the process of automating the collection of employee punches and calculation of hours worked would continue to evolve alongside the exponential growth of modern technology.
By the mid 1980’s Kronos released the first badge-based terminal. It had a keypad to support basic inquiries and job transfers while also leveraging technological advances to reduce its size. The 90’s saw the introduction of a two line display and Ethernet communications. Major advances continued in the early 2000’s with the release of the series 4500, which included a larger LCD screen and soft keys that enabled organizations to provide employee self-service features like viewing timecards and schedules, and requesting time off. The launch of the 4500 also introduced Touch ID biometric technology, enabling businesses to eliminate costly buddy-punching by having employees verify identity with the scan of a finger.
In 2011, Kronos continued this track record of industry-first innovation with the introduction of the InTouch terminal – a completely reimagined device that boasts a large color touchscreen display, endless self-service functions, biometric identification, and wireless communication. Built for the needs of today’s modern workforce, the InTouch provides organizations with an extensible environment for application development and a consumer-grade user-experience.
Evolving Business Needs Will Continue to Shape the Future
While new technologies play a big role in enabling product innovation, changing business needs will always be the driving force. Automated timekeeping was originally centered on monitoring and control of labor cost, compliance, and productivity. Were employees arriving at work on time? Who was leaving early? How much was being spent on overtime? These issues remain important but with recent changes in the labor market, including low unemployment and a ‘skills gap’ in many industries, the tide has begun to turn with organizations shifting their attention to employee-centric strategies that focus on satisfaction, fairness, and engagement.
The reason is simple: employees are an organization’s most vital — and typically most expensive – asset, and when they are disengaged and/or disenfranchised, the ripple effects across the business can impact profitability and branding. In fact, according to the January 2015 Gallup Daily tracking survey on employee engagement, less than one-third of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2014 – and that percentage was even lower for millennials.
Decreasing staff turnover, minimizing employee burnout, and empowering the workforce are just a few examples of this emerging employee-centric shift in the workplace. So, providing workers with smarter self-service and new ways to access and act on their work-related information at the time and place of their choosing can help them feel more valued – a critical element in driving engagement.
Today’s time clock bears little resemblance to its 20th century predecessors and is now so much more than just a means of tracking time. It has evolved into a one-stop shop for helping employees balance work and life – not only allowing them to punch in and out but also to manage their timecards, schedules, accruals, time off, and more. And mobile technologies have extended their reach, turning employee smartphones into personal time clocks.
As these and other trends continue to evolve, one thing is certain: Kronos will continue to innovate – leading the way with products that help great employees make their businesses great. Technology will change, business needs will evolve, and time clocks will continue to survive.
Did you think I’d crumble?
Did you think I’d lay down and die?
Oh no, not I, I will survive!