With shifting compliance regulations, restaurants need more powerful employee management tools.

Sponsored by HotSchedules.

If your time clock is currently integrated into your point of sale (POS) system, it may be time to upgrade your employee management strategies. Though including time clocks in POS systems may make sense on paper, these integrated programs cannot keep up with the increasing demands of today’s restaurant environment.

Time clocks were first included in POS systems because POS was the first type of tracking technology most restaurants employed, says Nathan Pickerill, principal solutions architect at HotSchedules and manager of the Sales Solution Center. Restaurant leaders’ reliance upon them makes sense because they can provide sales versus labor statistics.

But over time, the restaurant world has changed. Laws regarding labor have become stricter, while reliance on technology has influenced business practices. One pitfall, for example, is that POS time clock systems don’t usually give employees and managers records of shift changes, which can be a barrier to legal compliance.

“From a compliance standpoint, this is a huge hurdle when dealing with wage and labor grievances from employees,” Pickerill says. “As states’ labor restrictions become more favorable toward employees, there is a responsibility on the part of employers to document any time card transactions that aren’t directly controlled by the employees, like adjusting the start or end times of shifts. Many employers use paper forms to track these adjustments, but trying to manage the paper and ensure changes are always tracked is a tenuous situation at best.”

Handling this paperwork and processing manual shift changes can be time consuming, eating up significant parts of managers’ already busy days. Additionally, time clock functionality integrated into POS systems does not necessarily offer much security in the case of data breaches or system crashes, as much of it is not supported by cloud backups.

“It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does it can be devastating to have the POS hard drive crash and not have a backup of the time and sales data from the system,” Pickerill says. “Trying to piece together the clock-ins and clock-outs of every employee for a pay period can be extremely painful and costly, as employers will generally want to err in the favor of the employee. Having the data in the cloud makes things much more reliable.”

Though some POS systems are moving to the cloud, not all are doing so. Using a system that lacks this cloud functionality also makes it more difficult to manage payroll and labor costs from an organizational standpoint because it is harder to review accurate, timely information across a region.

Though at first thought, it may seem counterintuitive to introduce a new system to a restaurant that seems to make practices more complicated, investing in other time clock options can provide managers with a wide array of tools and features that make their lives much easier.

“There are so many solutions out there that offer differing levels of advantages,” Pickerill says. “For instance, time and attendance tools that are integrated with advanced scheduling and labor management systems generally offer better security through geo fencing, biometrics, and schedule enforcement and better compliance alerting and regulations.”

Though some restaurant leaders fear that moving away from a POS integration would change performance measurement practices, having more flexible access to time clock data is critical in today’s business environment. For example, today’s time clocks can help prevent issues with meal and overtime compliance, as well as offer predictive scheduling tools to help reduce these risks before compliance issues occur.

“As the labor laws in more and more states start to become more intense and POS systems aren’t able to keep up with the alerts and information that managers need to monitor this compliance, companies are looking for better solutions,” Pickerill says. “Finding time and attendance features that exist within scheduling and labor systems that integrate the compliance features that operators need . to avoid penalties, the security features to prevent time theft, and the operational sales and reporting features needed in a near real-time environment is the Holy Grail for  hospitality companies.”

By Peggy Carouthers

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