UNC Charlotte’s rollout of the Kronos Workforce Ready timekeeping system is complete, and the University is already experiencing its benefits.
The cloud-based system automates time collection for employees, eliminating the estimated 40,000 pieces of paper the University previously used each year for timekeeping. This change allows for a more comprehensive system and reduces the need for manual date entry – in addition to supporting UNC Charlotte’s commitment to sustainability.
"Before Kronos, there was a lot of duplicate data entry between payroll and the departments, where time and leave hours were tracked in spreadsheets,” said Heather McLendon, director of financial systems support, who led training efforts for Kronos and initiated the implementation process for departments.
The rollout began in August 2014 with a pilot group consisting of representatives from business affairs, student affairs, academic affairs and the Chancellor’s Office.
During the next 14 months, McLendon and other members of the implementation team received feedback from participants and used it to inform their decisions going forward.
One of the biggest changes was the elimination of clocking in and out for lunch. McLendon said it became clear during the pilot that it would be more efficient to have that time automatically deducted from each employee’s schedule.
“We tested all of our most complicated scenarios during the pilot,” McLendon said. “We wanted to make sure we had a system that worked for everyone.”
Following the pilot, Kronos was approved for campus-wide use, and additional departments began transitioning in January 2016. The final areas came on board in July.
The new system is already having an impact on how employees do their jobs.
Vicki Plott, director of operations for extended academic programs, said she was elated when she heard the University was making the switch to Kronos.
“I used a similar system in a previous career, so I knew firsthand the efficiencies of using a system where timesheets are paperless and real-time data and balances are available to all employees,” Plott said.
For Plott, she now is able to approve easily her employees’ requests for time off and to track labor costs accurately for a receipts-based unit. She said it also has empowered employees to track their own time in the system. “Our employees no longer have to ask what their current balances are; the information is always at their fingertips with real-time balances.”
In addition to helping employees be accountable for their time, Tracy Beauregard, business services coordinator in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Sciences, said her department has benefited from the electronic system.
Because of Kronos, “we've reduced our use of paper and print quota and eliminated the need for filing time and leave sheets, which saves us both money and space,” Beauregard said.
Gail Keene, budget and personnel manager for research and economic development at the Charlotte Research Institute, also has seen benefits in her area.
Kronos has been a “big improvement for our department over the manual forms and monthly reports that were typically two months behind,” Keene said. Additionally, it has been a “big improvement for employees to know their leave allocations.”
Accurate accounting of worked time and accrued leave is not only valuable to employees, it is necessary for the University’s compliance with federal and state regulations.
The revised standards and rules for the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are one such regulation. Beginning Dec. 1, 2016, the salary threshold for the executive, administrative and professional exemption from overtime eligibility will increase to $47,746 per year. The change impacts how some employees track time and qualify for overtime compensation.
“Having the Kronos system fully implemented prior to the new FLSA regulations going into effect is critical to the University’s ability to comply quickly with these changes that ensure protections for our employees,” said Gary Stinnett, associate vice chancellor for human resources.
Despite the success to date with the Kronos implementation, McLendon recognizes it still is a change that may take a while for everyone to get used to.
“We understand tracking time like this is a shift for both employees and supervisors, and the benefits of the change will be different for each group,” McLendon said. “That is why we are committed to providing support and resources as people continue to adjust to this system.”