The Future of Workforce Management: Time and Attendance Systems Explained



As businesses adopt flexible working arrangements that include remote workers, new management methods must be implemented. One essential piece of this is a time and attendance system.

These are software programs or physical devices that track employee start and end times. They are an important tool for optimizing organizational productivity and minimizing payroll costs.

Streamlined Processes

Before COVID-19 closed businesses, forced workforce shifts, and threw the economy into chaos, many organizations had no reason to reconsider their established practices. But, once business operations resumed, they realized that responding quickly to change was critical to continued success. That meant a close look at staffing, resource allocations, productivity, and labor costs — all of which depend on having the right tools to manage them.

One of the most important new tools is the best time and attendance system that can accurately track employee hours, even when they are working remotely. This technology can be as simple as a punch clock integration on employees’ mobile devices or as advanced as biometrics like vein reader, hand geometry, or facial recognition that eliminate human intervention.

Another key trend that will impact workforce management is the rise of the gig economy. These workers are often not tracked by payroll systems, which may not capture the full scope of their work or pay. But with a modern time and attendance system that tracks projects and other non-traditional pay types, companies can improve the accuracy of their data while also providing flexibility to their gig workforce.

Until recently, most workforce-related policies and processes have focused on internal full-time employees. But, the future of work will require a new approach to strategically managing an increasingly diverse set of internal and external workers. That means that leaders need to move beyond managing their workforce to orchestrating it, a new concept that involves coordinating all contributors in an aligned effort toward common strategic and operational objectives.

Increased Visibility

Workforce management—or WFM, commonly known—is a collection of processes and tools to optimize productivity, increase efficiency, and minimize risk. It also ensures compliance with changing labor laws and regulations.

Workplaces need to be able to adapt quickly in the face of new challenges. As a result, it’s increasingly important that companies leverage technology to automate processes and create visibility across the entire workforce.

For instance, a workforce management solution can help identify a shift gap by using predictive modeling and machine learning to forecast staffing needs. It can then use this information to build schedules that match actual demand while minimizing costs. It can also provide employees with self-service tools to manage their own schedules. This level of automation allows businesses to respond quickly to changes in consumer demand or local events like holiday sales, as well as weather and traffic conditions.

By connecting workforce management with strategic planning, it becomes possible for leaders to improve employee engagement and productivity while reducing operational risks. This is particularly true as organizations rely more on external workers such as long- and short-term contractors, gig workers, partners, and technologies. A unified workforce management solution gives HR, finance, and operations managers a single source of truth for all data about their total workforce. This empowers them to make more informed decisions about how best to manage a diverse mix of talent.


Workforce management processes are increasing in complexity and demand. With a fully integrated system that’s centralized and data-driven, managers can take action more quickly when issues arise. They can make strategic decisions to increase productivity and drive business performance.

For example, a worker-first advanced scheduling solution automatically balances labor demands with worker preferences to create optimized schedules that reduce compliance risks and improve employee experience. Similarly, real-time monitoring of attendance can spot time anomalies and alert managers to potential violations so they can prevent overtime or other costly penalties.

In addition, the ability to easily identify and fill shift vacancies can help reduce absenteeism and ensure optimal coverage. Plus, streamlined recordkeeping helps you comply with state and federal leave laws. Moreover, enabling employees to access and manage their schedules via mobile devices can give them greater autonomy while ensuring company policies are followed and compliance is maintained.

Workforce management technology is helping to make these types of strategic decisions easier than ever. Changing markets and heightened regulatory environments require a workforce that is flexible, adaptable, and capable of meeting evolving needs. To meet these new challenges, workforce managers must use data and analytics to drive strategic insights that align HR activities with business goals. This requires a holistic approach to managing the workforce, including unified systems that bring accuracy, simplicity, and insight to processes like time and attendance.


Workforce management, or WFM, is the institutional process of optimizing productivity levels and competency for an organization. It involves a set of integrated solutions, including human capital management, data collection, training, budgeting and forecasting, employee scheduling, and more. Initially created to optimize efficiency in call centers, the concept of WFM has been adopted by all industries and companies looking to improve the way they manage their people.

The challenge of managing the workforce is not new to business leaders, but the rules of engagement are changing fast. According to the third annual MIT SMR-Deloitte Future of Workforce global study, organizations increasingly rely on external contributors: short- and long-term contractors, gig workers, partners, and technology. This shift creates a shifting sand landscape that requires new functional relationships and leadership approaches.

Traditionally, WFM has focused on staffing and scheduling employees to meet anticipated (forecasted) demand and align with labor laws and regulations. However, the unforeseen impacts of weather, holidays, or even an employee’s health make it difficult to remain within a budget and stay on top of productivity targets.

Today, workforce planning is no longer a one-time event—it’s an ongoing process that requires real-time data to help leaders align strategic objectives with operational realities and anticipate changes in the business environment. This new reality means that it’s important to find a solution that can handle all the complexities and create a seamless user experience for both employees and managers.

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