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HOW TO IMPLEMENT ETHICAL EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY MONITORING FOR FUTURE BUSINESS GROWTH

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Michael Cupps, Senior Vice President, Marketing at ActiveOps, discusses the future of ethical employee management and how to keep good staff from going elsewhere.

 

Surprisingly enough, employment productivity monitoring (EPM) was not invented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, through the pandemic, there became an increased curiosity in the line of products designed to track employee activity throughout the working day.

Despite tried and tested ways of monitoring your staff, the concept of ethical EPM is relatively new. It stems from the fine line employers must walk between employee surveillance (generally accepted as poor for employee engagement and morale) and EPM, which emphasises employee wellness, performance, and employee empowerment rather than corporate oversight, and spying.

 

The balance of building trust and employee burnout

Employee productivity monitoring still appears to be a Draconian attempt to micromanage an entire workforce’s time and mouse clicks. That kind of intense monitoring for those not in the know is a practice that does not end well, for either party. In rare cases, tech-savvy team members have been known to attempt to outsmart their managers by creating their own mouse-clicking programs.

Michael Cupps

Yet, where there is an environment breeding an element of distrust, even on both sides, the impact on business can be hugely damaging. In the working environment, where employees continue to work under immense stress with the ever-present threat of burnout around the corner, such inefficient practices, thankfully, are fast becoming outdated.

In 2017, a study by Baylor University found that monitoring software correlated with greater employee tension and less job satisfaction, indicated a higher workforce turnover. This situation has only been exacerbated by the stresses of working remotely during a pandemic.

 

Ethical employee monitoring

Ethical EPM, on the other hand, turns employee behaviours into a measurable source of information about employee wellbeing. It shows employees, managers, and the organisation how individuals spend their screen time and how productive they’ve been. That means that they can adapt what isn’t working to be more intentional, and not so they can punish those who aren’t working.

“It’s hard to understand your performance because the measure of what good looks like can be so subjective,” says Richard Jeffery. “EPM software allows an employee to assign real metrics to what a good day looks like, and on the other hand, what a bad one looks like too. It is empowering to the employee because it gives them vital information about how they use their time. Rather, in the same way, a fitness app on a smartwatch gives back your control over your health and fitness.”

Research has found that a great majority of employees don’t mind being observed once they understand the monitoring is in place for their own use to help them stay on course, keep a tab on their working hours, and gain more autonomy about when and where they choose to work.

 

Capturing the correct data for the right reasons

Ethical employee productivity monitoring can show managers both sides of the spectrum of employee productivity, giving team leaders a 360-degree view of the work being produced by how employees are doing. It goes beyond the idea that high productivity should be logging in seven days a week for 12 hours a day. It’s not good for the business and even less so for the employee.

So, what is good data? Analytics that flag up potential employee burnout is one, which can be done in many ways. It might be as simple as evaluating an employee’s workload to ensure they’re being assigned tasks they’re trained and qualified to do. Where the data is wrong or misleading, the result can have an adverse effect.

For example, an organisation might be preparing to place an employee on a performance improvement plan (PIP) for low productivity. But using an EPM provider, they were able to see that the employee wasn’t slacking off or performing below their ability — they were simply spending so much time in the training modules learning how to do new tasks, thus taking them away from other responsibilities.

Thanks to this insight, the employee’s manager could intervene, adjust the employee’s tasks, and save the relationship, save the employee’s morale and even avoid a resignation.

Overall, how an organisation uses time is critical information for operations and not just for employee wellbeing. It informs so many things, primarily when the company’s pace is driven by variability of what’s coming in the door. When employees and team leaders are better informed about their workloads and how they structure their day, they can balance resources. This, in turn, maintains productivity no matter what’s coming in — which is essential in creating company-wide balance and maintaining company health.

 

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NutreeLife triples production with finance from Siemens Financial Services

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Plant-based snack manufacturer NutreeLife has massively increased its production capacity with the help of a hire purchase solution from Siemens Financial Services (SFS).

Founded in 2017, NutreeLife is a rapidly growing company which produces vegan protein bars, snacks and other healthy vegan products. Following a significant increase in demand, the manufacturer wanted to invest in a new production line.

As Patrick Mroczak, MD and CEO at NutreeLife Ltd explains, “We were ready to invest in the next stage of business development. We needed new equipment to meet demand but we also wanted to preserve our cash flow to deal with the volatility of the pandemic.”

To protect the business’ working capital, SFS suggested a hire purchase arrangement. Under the agreement, NutreeLife could acquire the equipment immediately and with no upfront costs. Instead, SFS tailored the arrangement so that the company could spread the cost over 5 years in regular payments and at the end of the arrangement NutreeLife will automatically own the equipment outright.

Under the hire purchase solution, the manufacturer also met the conditions for the UK government’s super-deduction tax initiative, whereby a company investing in qualifying new plant and machinery assets is able to claim 130% of the equipment’s value in year one.

“As a relatively new business, it’s not always easy to gain access to the right finance at a good price but SFS were incredibly accommodating. They really understood the benefit of the technology for our business and helped us unlock the investment,” adds Mroczak.

With the new equipment and technology installed, NutreeLife has been able to triple its production and turnover, and expand operations in tow.

“Despite the ups and downs of the pandemic, the new production line has helped us to keep things moving. As demand rises we’ve been able to take on much more staff and use our working capital towards stockpiling raw materials when needed.”

And the business’ success has not gone unnoticed. NutreeLife was awarded Small Business of the Year at the 2021 Lancashire’s Be Inspired Business Awards (BIBAs).

“Working with SFS has truly opened up news avenues of business for us. The team is so fast and responsive and clearly dedicated to finding the best solution for our machinery needs,” comments Mroczak.

Kirsty Talmage-Rostron, Business Development Manager – UK South at Siemens Financial Services comments, “It’s always exciting to work with an innovative award-winning manufacturer like NutreeLife. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we’ve been able to help the business rapidly develop and look forward to continuing to support this growth strategy as the business expands into new markets.”

 

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HYDR DEVELOPS INVOICE FINANCE PLATFORM TO INTEGRATE WITH MAJOR CLOUD ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE PROVIDERS

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MANCHESTER – UK – 17th January 2022 – Fintech start-up, Hydr has developed its proprietary invoice finance platform to integrate with more major cloud accounting software providers including Sage and QuickBooks.

After launching exclusively with Xero in May, the Hydr platform can now be accessed by millions more SMEs in the UK who want to leverage their unpaid invoices to optimise cash flow and help fuel their growth.

Users of Sage, FreeAgent, KashFlow, QuickBooks and Xero who sign up with Hydr can get paid almost immediately for the work they have completed and invoiced, rather than having to wait out long payment terms and even having to consider extending their borrowings to maintain working capital.

Customers who link their account to the Hydr platform can expect a class-leading, seamless integration. No duplication of data is needed, they simply continue to raise their invoices with their cloud accounting provider as normal and Hydr will do the rest, funding approved invoices within 24 hours.

Hydr co-founder, Nicola Weedall said, “We’re so pleased to have achieved this product milestone. The impact of long payment terms and late payments is affecting millions of small businesses in the UK; many are navigating CBILS repayments and ramping up post-Covid trading which can put a strain on working capital. We feel so strongly that getting paid early is the best way of optimising cash flow, far better than extending borrowings.”

Hydr co-founder, Hector Macandrew said, “Invoice finance in years gone by has often been complicated and time consuming to apply for, complex to manage and opaque in pricing. It is absolutely ripe for disruption and cloud accounting and open banking has made this reinvention achievable. With our simple, transparent and fairly priced proposition, it is now more accessible and attractive to small businesses than ever. We encourage more businesses to consider it.”

Hydr helps small businesses optimise their cash flow with fully digital onboarding that takes just 15 minutes. Hydr’s platform connects with a company’s data and financial information creating a seamless digital experience without the need for the company to submit any additional paperwork. Funding decisions are given in real time and Hydr pays 100% of the value of an invoice (rather than the traditional 70-90%) within 24 hours, minus a transparent, fairly priced fixed fee. Once quoted, the fee never, ever changes and includes credit insurance.

Hydr works with small businesses registered in England in Wales that sell products or services to other businesses (B2B).

 

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