Discipline is fundamental to success and the collective discipline of employees towards a common cause is what makes a successful company. Kevin Howell, founder of time- and attendance-management solutions company, Ouch!, explains how time and attendance management can be used to foster a culture of discipline to elevate productivity in a business.

First, in the examination of effects of time management on overall productivity, a distinction must be made between “time”, and the concept of “working time”. Working time refers to any period during which a worker works at a company’s disposal and carries out their activities or duties.

This distinction is an important one as the concept of working time does not include travelling between home and work, and lunch breaks.

The challenge that most businesses face comes about when employee behaviour infringes on working time. This includes arriving late to work, ducking out early or being absent without being sick or without approved leave.

The extent to which a workforce abides by and honours working time is what Howell calls employee discipline. “We are all aware of the commonly identified drains on productivity, such as fatigue, company culture, workplace distractions, time spent on social media or scheduling too many pointless meetings.

“However, what all these factors come down to at the end of the day is a lack of discipline. And in my experience, lack of employee discipline is most pervasive when it comes to the basic principles of punctuality and absenteeism,” says Howell.

A drop in productivity and failure to meet set goals, targets and deadlines are strong indicators of a lack of employee discipline. While the effects can vary, Howell says all it takes is a single individual to have a ripple effect across an entire department or even an entire business.

He explains: “Optimal productivity is impossible without employee discipline. If someone is chronically late for work or frequently absent, the rest of the team is missing a part of the overall machine and will either be held up, unable to continue with a task or will function at a lower capacity as they battle to make up for the missing link.”

Improving employee discipline has a direct effect on productivity, which creates opportunities to optimise efficiency.

Howell acknowledges that most cases of absenteeism are due to legitimate reasons, although habitual absentees in a company are caused by a lack of employee discipline. “Developing a structured environment enforces a disciplined culture amongst employees,” concludes Howell.

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