Only a Matter of Time: Punctuality and attendance in multicultural workplaces
Multicultural workplaces are now the norm for many businesses. With more fluid borders, people are more likely to move to other cities, and even countries, for work. Some stay for short or medium-term contracts, while others relocate to capitalise on business and career opportunities. Either way, this movement has created culturally rich environments that is a new and exciting frontier for workforce management.
But bringing together people from different backgrounds isn’t always easy. Cultural traits, often subconscious, surface in everyday interactions. In this series, we’ll look at multicultural workforces and what makes them tick. It’s no secret that we’re all different, and in many cases this diversity enriches the work environment. But when this diversity is not handled correctly, this creates tension and results in unproductivity.
The most common source of tension in multicultural workplaces is time. We’ve all heard stories about Japanese firms becoming frustrated with their American associates if a report is delayed by 15 minutes. Or American managers adding in an hour to make room for their Italian counterparts who are usually late. Yes, different approaches to punctuality can send even the most seasoned managers on a tailspin. To understand this problem better, we need to look at time itself.
Punctuality as a cultural trait
Every country can be placed on a scheduling spectrum, according to Erin Meyer, author of The Culture Map. A country’s place on the spectrum is affected by a number of historic factors, and indicates how time is perceived by people in that country. Yes, how we understand time itself is a product of our culture. And because this affects how punctual we are, it’s a common source of frustration in multicultural offices.
The Germans and Japanese are renowned for their punctuality, often even arriving earlier than scheduled. Brazilians and Indians on the other hand are already expected to come in late. Technically, none of them are wrong: they are behaving exactly as their cultural norms dictate. To understand why this difference exists, we need to look at monochronic and polychronic cultures.
Linear versus flexible time
Monochronic cultures treat time as linear: everything is sequential, and one task must be completed before beginning the next. Lateness and interruptions are heavily frowned upon. Time is a resource, and it must be allocated logically and precisely. These cultures typically have a history of heavy industrialisation, where organisation and deadlines are key. The US, Canada, and Northern Europe are common examples.
In contrast, polychronic cultures see time as flexible. Tasks can change as opportunities arise and interruptions are considered normal. Multi-tasking is the norm so things do not have to be done step by step. Many of these cultures have agricultural roots, where adaptability and flexibility are vital to success. Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa are often included in this grouping. Asia is more varied, with monochronic Japan and polychronic China, for instance.
There can be other factors in play too. In India, keeping people waiting is a norm, because being late is a sign of importance. This is referred to, in jest, as Indian Standard Time. Another example is urban Southeast Asia, where public transportation systems are slow, if not completely stalled, so being late is a part of everyday life. One only has to recall the infamous Jakarta traffic jams, or Manila’s 6 million-dollars-per-day losses from traffic, to understand the seriousness of the problem.
Bridging the time gap
Clearly, cross-cultural differences in perception of time is a compelling and complicated topic. It is being researched by academics and business firms alike, towards the same goal: managing multicultural teams. While cultural differences need to be respected, workplaces still depend on schedules to deliver products and services. Thus, bridging the time gap in multicultural environments relies on solutions that address the issue without offending sensibilities.
Differences in time perception may be deeply rooted, but employees can adapt given the correct guidance and tools to do so. Managers need to enhance their communication skills to be able to relate to staff from different cultures, and align them with the company’s values and goals. At the same time, they also need to look towards modern solutions such as time and attendance software to facilitate the desired new culture.
Time and attendance technology
Time and attendance software like Tanda make it easy to coordinate a multicultural staff, because it sets the expectations that the company has regarding time. Because each week’s schedule displayed on the employee’s app, it establishes exactly when they need to come in. Plus, managers have a fool-proof way of communicating updates and changes via SMS, email, or in-app notifications. This minimises misunderstandings and aids work culture in general.
Employee attendance is also accurately tracked and transferred to timesheets, so you always have a record of when staff are working. This comes in handy when a manager needs to talk to a staff member about their punctuality or attendance. Technology cuts ambiguity out of the process, and allows everyone to approach time objectively. In short, it sets the tone for a fair and consistent work environment.
Many exciting changes are happening to workforce management. Trends point toward automation to facilitate many administrative processes. But technology doesn’t just solve administrative challenges, it also has implications on the overall work environment. And in an increasingly globalised and multicultural world, shifting to technology to address modern business challenges is only a matter of time.
Awards & Rostering Industry Insights |
Australian Businesses Suffer from Absenteeism
Definition: Absenteeism is the practice of regularly staying away from work without good reason. Everyone is guilty of absenteeism at least some point in their lives. But how do you know when absenteeism is becoming a real problem within your business? How much it is actually costing your business invaluable work time, productivity and money? A survey conducted in November 2014 by Direct Health Solutions, a firm that specialises in reducing workplace absenteeism, found that sick days are costing Australian businesses a record $33 billion in payroll costs and lost productivity. Sick days are not only costing Australian businesses money, they are also being incorrectly recorded. “Absenteeism levels are understated and incorrectly recorded in over 50% of organizations.” “To ensure employers understand the impact and cost of absenteeism to their business, companies need accurate recording and measurement systems in place” said Managing Director of Direct Health Solutions, Paul Dundon. Tanda, an award-winning time and attendance software, is a cloud-based system that helps small and large businesses manage their staff costs. Through the use of our automated time and attendance tracking software, in just a matter of minutes Tanda can calculate the total number of employees who take sick days along with the total cost of lost revenue and productivity due to absenteeism. Tanda offers a complete payroll administration system that allows businesses to manage and monitor time and attendance from any device at any time. The processing of an entire payroll that used to take hours to complete can be processed in a matter of minutes. You can trial Tanda yourself for FREE to see just how easy it really is to use. We guarantee you’ll never look back.
Awards & Rostering |
Punctuality? Challenge accepted!
Tanda is taking punctuality to a whole new level with our Employee Attendance Reports and challenged employees this month to up their game. This was all in celebration of the anniversary of the Time Clock where we had a Bundaberg Rum giveaway prize to the lucky winner. Congratulations to Liz from Clement Coffee in Victoria, Melbourne for being a highly punctual employee! Clement Coffee’s obviously doing something right to create a great workplace atmosphere where employees don’t want to be late for work! Did we just gamify employee attendance? From a business point of view, every manager would love to see their employees get actively involved in turning up to work on time. Now with great accuracy using data from Tanda’s time clocks, businesses can track the exact times an employee clocks in and out, but also generate a report to see staff punctuality stats. Knowing this kind of information adds all kinds of value, especially to those dreaded performance reviews. Businesses with multiple departments/locations can even compete and compare scores at monthly meetings. Existing Tanda users can access the Attendance Reports already. Not using Tanda yet? Sign up for an account today.
Events & Media AU |
Tanda announces Global Partnership with AEVI
Tanda has announced a partnership with international technology company AEVI. The partnership will bring Tanda’s market leading workforce management solution to AEVI’s Global Marketplace for smart Point of Sale (SmartPOS) devices. This will revolutionise how merchants and business owners run and manage their business. Australia has some of the most complicated labour laws in the world, subsequently making it one of the most complex countries to run payroll in. Using Australia’s intricate labour conditions as a foundation, Tanda provides a robust and agile solution to business owners looking to streamline their workforce administration. Through Tanda users can improve productivity, profitability, and gain compliance comfort in how they manage and pay their staff. Press Release: AEVI and Tanda Partner to Simplify Workforce Management for Business Owners London 24/05/17 – AEVI has today announced a partnership with Australian-based technology company Tanda, to bring their industry leading cloud-based payroll and rostering solution to AEVI’s Global Marketplace; the B2B app store for smart Point of Sale (SmartPOS). This collaboration will enable merchants in the retail and hospitality space to streamline their workforce management via the apps seamless integration with AEVI’s range of compatible SmartPOS devices. SMEs are always on the lookout for innovative ways to save time and reduce costs. With Tanda’s market leading automated workforce technology, they can do just that. Rather than wasting time on payroll and HR, owners will be free to focus on the things that truly matter to their business. With over 145 million rostered hours across 2,500+ business locations around the world, Tanda combines all the workforce management tools a merchant could need into one simple, secure, solution. From reliable time clock applications to user-friendly digitised rostering, Tanda’s innovative software takes the guess work out of time management, ensuring employees are paid accurately and on time. The strategic partnership with AEVI will expand Tanda’s global reach, and make their solution available to a global network of key merchant banks and acquirers. With over 70,000 SmartPOS terminals already in operation across Australia and central Europe, AEVI is the ideal partner for Tanda to increase their speed to market, and expand into new regions. Liam Scanlan, Director of Strategic Development for Tanda said, “Partnering with AEVI will bring best of breed solutions to businesses all over the world, uniting Tanda’s leading workforce management software with AEVI’s Global Marketplace. Tanda and AEVI know there is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of business owners in how they pay and manage their staff, giving them more time to invest in running their business. Our combined offering helps achieve this.” “We are thrilled to bring Tanda’s market leading workforce technology to our Global Marketplace” said Mike Camerling, Director Marketplace, AEVI. “We could all use a little more time at work. Thanks to Tanda that is now a real possibility for the merchants of all our bank and acquiring customers.” AEVI continues its mission to pioneer and lead the payments community towards an open ecosystem. Providing banks and acquirers with the capabilities to differentiate themselves on more than just price and technical specifications. To find out more about how AEVI continues to grow its choice of value-added apps and services please visit marketplace.aevi.com. ~ENDS~ Note to Editors: About AEVI: AEVI brings acquirers closer to their merchants, and merchants closer to their consumers, with an open Ecosystem that combines apps, payment services and a multi-vendor selection of payment devices. Selecting from a marketplace of high-quality apps and services, Acquirers can quickly create differentiated, innovative SmartPOS solutions under their own brands. Our centralized payments as a service platform eliminates obstacles, and helps Acquirers simplify the complex payment landscape with a single integration and access to a comprehensive suite of cloud-based, back office reporting tools for enhanced control and flexibility. We welcome Acquirers, App Solution Partners and Hardware Vendors to build on our vision of an open, collaborative payments Ecosystem unrestricted by device vendors, currencies, borders or regulations. www.aevi.com AEVI International GmbH is a subsidiary company of Diebold Nixdorf and is headquartered in Germany with operations in the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic.