Skip to content

National Punch a Clock Day


Today’s guest blog post is courtesy of my Kronos colleague, Melissa Tetreau.  Her perspective is that the time clock isn’t going away any time soon.  What do you think?

TWS38.700.punchtheclockA Brief History of Time (Clocks)

In 1979 while Gloria Gaynor was enjoying success with her hit song “I Will Survive”, Kronos released the first version of its punch card based time clock. Though the origins of the mechanical time clock date to the late 1800’s, the Kronos clock was the first to introduce microprocessor-based timekeeping to the market. From that moment on, the process of automating the collection of employee punches and calculation of hours worked would continue to evolve alongside the exponential growth of modern technology.

By the mid 1980’s Kronos released the first badge-based terminal. It had a keypad to support basic inquiries and job transfers while also leveraging technological advances to reduce its size. The 90’s saw the introduction of a two line display and Ethernet communications. Major advances continued in the early 2000’s with the release of the series 4500, which included a larger LCD screen and soft keys that enabled organizations to provide employee self-service features like viewing timecards and schedules, and requesting time off. The launch of the 4500 also introduced Touch ID biometric technology, enabling businesses to eliminate costly buddy-punching by having employees verify identity with the scan of a finger.

In 2011, Kronos continued this track record of industry-first innovation with the introduction of the InTouch terminal – a completely reimagined device that boasts a large color touchscreen display, endless self-service functions, biometric identification, and wireless communication. Built for the needs of today’s modern workforce, the InTouch provides organizations with an extensible environment for application development and a consumer-grade user-experience.

Evolving Business Needs Will Continue to Shape the Future

While new technologies play a big role in enabling product innovation, changing business needs will always be the driving force.  Automated timekeeping was originally centered on monitoring and control of labor cost, compliance, and productivity. Were employees arriving at work on time? Who was leaving early? How much was being spent on overtime?  These issues remain important but with recent changes in the labor market, including low unemployment and a ‘skills gap’ in many industries, the tide has begun to turn with organizations shifting their attention to employee-centric strategies that focus on satisfaction, fairness, and engagement.

The reason is simple: employees are an organization’s most vital — and typically most expensive – asset, and when they are disengaged and/or disenfranchised, the ripple effects across the business can impact profitability and branding.  In fact, according to the January 2015 Gallup Daily tracking survey on employee engagement, less than one-third of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2014 – and that percentage was even lower for millennials. 

Decreasing staff turnover, minimizing employee burnout, and empowering the workforce are just a few examples of this emerging employee-centric shift in the workplace. So, providing workers with smarter self-service and new ways to access and act on their work-related information at the time and place of their choosing can help them feel more valued – a critical element in driving engagement.

Today’s time clock bears little resemblance to its 20th century predecessors and is now so much more than just a means of tracking time. It has evolved into a one-stop shop for helping employees balance work and life – not only allowing them to punch in and out but also to manage their timecards, schedules, accruals, time off, and more.  And mobile technologies have extended their reach, turning employee smartphones into personal time clocks.

As these and other trends continue to evolve, one thing is certain: Kronos will continue to innovate – leading the way with products that help great employees make their businesses great. Technology will change, business needs will evolve, and time clocks will continue to survive.
old time clock

Did you think I’d crumble?

Did you think I’d lay down and die?

Oh no, not I, I will survive!intouch

Share this:

Consider the 50+ Intern

natalie bickfordThe following post is courtesy of our board member Natalie Bickford,  Group HR Director at Merlin Entertainments PLC.

I recently watched the 2015 film, The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. The premise is that Ben Whittaker (De Niro), a 70-year-old retired manager, returns to the workplace as a senior intern working for Jules Olsen (Hathaway), the CEO of a fast-growing online fashion retailer. This being a Hollywood film, of course the outcome is that Whittaker brings a wealth of experience, maturity, calm and common sense, and that the internship opportunity gives him a new lease on life, a sense of purpose, an ability to have an impact on this successful business, and a lot of new young friends.

The main thought that has stayed with me is that we will all need to work for much longer than our parents did. Traditionalists and Baby Boomers in the corporate world have typically worked for a small number of employers during their careers, and have been able to retire with reasonable retirement benefits, including pensions in some cases. My fellow Gen Xers have seen a swing in their working lives towards a more varied career with a range of organizations, and a recognition that we will need to work well into our sixties, if not into our seventies, in order to maintain a decent income for our longer life expectancies. And so it goes on down the generations.

So, if we are all going to work into our seventies, then at some point it is likely we will need to, or want to, try something new.

I have been an HR specialist for the vast majority of my career but could imagine working in animal welfare during my twilight years. My 68-year-old mother would love an internship in a Michelin-starred kitchen, and my husband dreams of retraining from banking to marine biology. Every single person over the age of 50 that I have spoken to on the subject has some alternative career options.

HR professionals are well aware that a diverse workforce – especially one that mirrors your client base – can improve business results. This diversity should include diversity of age, especially when by 2020 over-50s will make up a third of the UK workforce, and about 25% in the U.S. The engagement and employment of over-50s employees will be critical to economic growth over the coming years.

Could my mother bring some balance, calm, and mature leadership to a working kitchen? Definitely. Is she likely to be offered a position when her last paid role was some 20 years ago? Possibly not. So here is where the internship for older workers would come into play.

My searches have come up fairly short for companies that provide internships for older people. A couple of notable exceptions are Barclays, which launched its UK-based Barclays Bolder Apprenticeships in 2015, and Goldman Sachs with their US-based “Returnship Program”. Several organizations around the world offer support to older workers looking to get back in to work, including the likes of IRelaunch,com, and, but the pull from the corporate world is either missing or very tricky to find.

As HR professionals, I believe we have a wonderful opportunity to create enthusiasm about the benefits of bringing career changing senior interns into our businesses. Whether on a full- or part-time basis, those with many years of experience and learning should certainly bring both a mature and a fresh perspective to our organizations – and we should remember that these workers will also increasingly make up the majority of our client and consumer base. I would love to see The Intern’s Hollywood dream become a corporate reality.


Share this:

The Yin and Yang of Employee Engagement and Productivity

yin yangToday’s post is courtesy of our board member, Bob Clements.  Bob is Senior Principal at Axsium Group, a leading workforce management consulting firm.  I love his use of the yin yang here to represent the tension between productivity and employee engagement.  What is your organization doing to balance these priorities?


In doing my job helping large employers make their hourly employees more productive, I have observed a common thread. While strategies to improve worker output vary from situation to situation, the most productive workforces are all built upon the same foundation: highly engaged employees.

Now, I will be the first to admit that it is not particularly groundbreaking to say that engaged employees are productive employees. Numerous studies have proved it. The Gallup Organization, for example, found that engaged workforces are up to 22 percent more productive than those that are disengaged or not actively engaged. But, the relationship between employee engagement and productivity is often forgotten when you get into a conference room with the mission of increasing the efficiency of your workforce.

When that door closes behind you, and you find an empty whiteboard staring you in the face, pressure builds to make something happen. The language in the room quickly shifts to business-oriented, financially-centric (and almost desperate) clichés like “driving efficiency”, “squeezing more out of people” and, my favorite, “doing more with less”.  The people – the employees – doing the work are forgotten, and all attention falls to cutting, scaling back or eliminating something with the hopes of bumping up productivity.

When I find a team going down this path, I like to draw the diagram above on the whiteboard. Based on the yin and yang symbol from Chinese philosophy, this symbol describes how two opposite forces balance and complement each other. In Chinese, yin literally means “the shady place” while yang means “the sunny place”. Many dualities can be applied to this model: the moon and the sun, water and fire, and north and south. Ultimately, one cannot exist without the other.

In my model, the duality is productivity and employee engagement. As day follows night and night follows day, a productive workforce follows an engaged workforce, and an engaged workforce follows a productive workforce. This pictures serves as an on-going reminder that you cannot have one without the other.

Share this: