The inclusion of artificial intelligence in workforce modernization creates a reality where organizations are tracking their workforce’s actions with greater accuracy and detail. How valuable are these efforts? How do improvements in tracking impact the employee? Today we are joined by Lakshmi Raj, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Replicon, a software company providing cloud time tracking software to answer these and related questions.
HR Daily Advisor: It can be said that accounting for 100% of how employees spend their time would help an organization streamline their resources and gain a lot of productivity. How do you think employees feel about all of their time being tracked or monitored?
Lakshmi: It’s important to note here that work time is what’s being tracked, and not the employee’s personal affairs. However, organizations should make it a practice to properly set expectations in this regard. When informed, employees are generally fine with time tracking—as any jobholder should expect to be held accountable for their time in some way. By the same token, some employees might be interested in fine-tuning their personal time management, or seeing where the bulk of their individual time goes. Someone vying for a future role in management, for example, can choose to allocate their time into research and self-development, or simply make more time for family. In that case, employees have the option to track a more detailed account of their own time if they choose. Otherwise, it’s all business.
HR Daily Advisor: Do new technologies like AI allow organizations to address employee concerns about being actively tracked?
Lakshmi: Employees are understandably concerned whenever monitoring is involved. It’s important that the industry keeps this in mind as we design AI-powered tools. Good tech doesn’t keep the employee in the dark. The employee should always be aware of what factors are being measured, and how they contribute to management decisions. For instance, clearly explaining that we’re gathering location information only while the employee is on the clock, helps to both demystify the AI and make smarter decisions about assignments. There is no hidden surveillance.
HR Daily Advisor: I was told that facial identification has a role to play in the streamlining of tracking employee time. Can you tell me more about that?
Lakshmi: With face identification, employees can simply walk up to their time clock and automatically log in through facial recognition, eliminating the need for an ID badge, password, or waiting in line. Additionally, this provides built-in protection against fraud based on buddy punching. This functionality is designed to allow employees to easily walk up to a time clock in order to punch in or out—your face is your identification. The best time management processes collect the most data while asking the least effort of supervisors and employees, and that’s exactly what facial identification excels in—by leveraging AI to make the time management process as unobtrusive, accurate, secure, and automated as possible.
HR Daily Advisor: Have you found out how employees feel about talking to a chatbot with facial identification software?
Lakshmi: While an office worker may already be comfortable with a specific messaging platform, an hourly worker who is out on the field should not need to learn a complex UI or app in order to fill out a timesheet. Technology like chatbots or Face ID handles both circumstances with one option. There are no passcodes, sign-ins, or lengthy procedures to contend with—office workers can continue using their messaging platform while pinging a chatbot with an update, and so too can a worker at any site. As a result, employees appreciate the reprieve. Instead of forcing them to learn a specific new user interface, or constantly interact with any elements, timesheets, or mobile forms, the intelligent assistant does all the heavy lifting for them.
HR Daily Advisor: What else can software do when it comes to standardization and modernization of things like tracking time?
Lakshmi: The possibilities are, unsurprisingly, endless. For instance, a company can automatically allocate employee time to a specific project based on their location—inside a building using beacons, or between facilities using GPS tracking. Intelligent workflows can validate data in real-time for exceptions or events, send alerts and notifications for approvals, and model workflows around specific business requirements. And, of course, improved accuracy for collected data as well as adherence to labor law compliance is simplified with the use of advanced technology and software.
HR Daily Advisor: Sure software can keep everyone up to date with real-time alerts and notifications. Can employees really keep up with the efficiency of such a system?
Lakshmi: It’s actually the other way around. Without alerts and notifications, the system is next to impossible for employees to keep up with. Rather than having to remember to update or input a specific thing at a specific time in a specific way, notifications have it covered. Supervisors no longer have to hound employees for timesheet completion or follow-ups in order to complete approvals and submissions. Consequently, we have seen increased adoption of the system, improved timesheet completion, and overall improved processing as these capabilities bring personal accountability to everyone involved.
Lakshmi Raj is the Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Replicon. In her position as Co-Chief Executive Officer, Lakshmi is focused on strategic initiatives for Replicon’s global operations, including market share expansion, revenue generation, and worldwide sales activities. She has extensive experience in web-based marketing and was instrumental in providing global visibility for Replicon’s product. Prior to starting Replicon, she worked as a software engineer for Verity (formerly known as FTP Canada). Lakshmi holds degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.