Clocking in, signing time sheets and clocking out are normal occurrences in most standard jobs. Working a certain amount of hours and getting paid for them is how work is documented, but the luster of hourly wages and two-week pay periods may not be the shiny gem of the workday that it once was.
As technology advances and millennials crave quicker monetary value in their careers, billable time — based on the value of an individual’s work rather than the hours put into it — could be the new normal and propel better time management and productivity at work, experts say. The millennial generation is spearheading this movement to change the way they get paid and give more value to their workday, although it has already been successful in the legal profession, consulting and design agencies.
“Is your employer billable?” is the question Brian Saunders asks when he is completing payroll for his employees, which translates to the productivity of an employee. The CEO of BigTime, a Chicago-based billing and time-tracking software company, he looks at employees as “billable” to maximize their productivity and value in their work. Like a flat rate for a design project or a case review, it’s not about watching the clock but logging specific duties, he said.
“If I am charging you $2,500 for corporate identity work, you don’t need to know how long it took, I just need to do the work,” Saunders said. “The idea of what you are doing on a day-to-day basis and connecting it back to the value has utility beyond just generating an invoice.”
BigTime works with over 2,000 organizations in consulting, legal, engineering, architecture and government contracting that track work based on the time spent on projects and duties, which helps them save money and improve workplace productivity.
A 2016 BigTime study looked at 12 million timesheets and their daily record keeping from clients that use the software to show the implication of the potential revenue companies could have saved by using this method. The study found that the more frequently employees tracked their time, the more money was left behind — $35 billion to be exact.
Saunders said logging time twice a week is what the study found to be most conducive to people’s mind recollection. From a company’s standpoint, looking at what was accomplished on a specific project is more productive than the number of hours. What is equally important is knowing what productivity means to each employee and each firm; knowing how to manage time needs measurement and actual thought.
“At the end of the day, you need time to sit back and reflect [and say], What did I do today?” he said.
While it may not work for every industry, this kind of productivity measurement is working in specific industries that have seen increased employee independence, company success and more deliberate thinking on time management.
These boosts come not only because of better software and a more innovative mindset around billable hours, but how millennials are accessing their funds to motivate their business and personal growth.
Financial wellness is a growing tool used by employers to pass on financially smart time management choices to workers. At McDonald’s, millennial employees are experiencing this first-hand.
Avoiding Bill Collectors
Having immediate access to 50 percent of their daily wages makes them more productive, manage their time more efficiently and not be late for a bill payment, according to Steve Barha, CEO and co-founder of Instant Financial, a tech company that works with McDonald’s to change traditional paydays and help companies give their employees access to money, technically called a pay disbursement program. Instant Financial also works with other restaurants, including Outback Steakhouse and Earl’s Kitchen and Bar.
According to an Instant Financial customer satisfaction survey, 90 percent of surveyed millennials say they would like to work for a company that offers daily pay compared to getting paid every two weeks. Additionally, 32 percent of employees with access to Instant Financial pay have used it to avoid high interest single credit options such as payday loans to balance income and expenses, something Barha said is needed by employees.
“In a world where everything is real time, the only thing that hasn’t changed is how we pay people,” Barha said, calling this the “millennial-style” of instant gratification and information that aligns with other aspects of life today.
But with the technology Instant Financial has created, disrupting the traditional flow of income can be unsettling and controversial because it assumes millennials are smart about their finances, Barha said. He was quick to add that anybody who thinks employees, specifically millennials, are not smart or responsible enough to have daily wage access is incorrect — people are smart and need financial control, he said.
“Employees’ finances are in duress while they sit and wait for their pay to come every two weeks,” he said.
Barha noted that as billing cycles evolve to make for more independence and loan cycles are more frequent, access to money creates more engaged employees, a stronger work culture and less absenteeism among millennial workers.
Keeping Track of Time
A more traditional program that has also improved productivity and engagement among employees was implemented by HR software company Kronos Inc. The employees at Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia are two years into the new Kronos initiative headed by John Leopold, director of IT and project manager at Goodwill.
He has seen his store’s new time-management program give employees more mobility to track their hours, clock in, schedule shifts and keep track of their finances. The program has helped eliminate money spent tracking employee time from the HR department, saved money and given the employees more independence, Leopold said. Having all of the services on the Kronos Workforce Ready platform for HCM has provided increased transparency within the organization and empowered the employee, he added.
“That transparency increases the trust factor and they are paid more accurately than they ever were before,” Leopold said.
Leopold said the idea of value and billable time is not currently present at Goodwill, but with many different tasks and better communication among the team, he could see that system being implemented in the future to help employees pick specific tasks and skills with varying pay rates and get paid for their specific work. Through the program, managers can have insight on who is best for the job because everything is logged in the system, which opens that channel for responsibility and goal-setting for the employee.
Whether billable time is the future of payroll, getting value out of your work is important to employees as well as employers. BigTime’s Saunders said working on a project is more fulfilling when you are steeped into its value in the moment, rather than just clocking in and clocking out in terms of physicality.
However, it is too soon to fit it for all companies. He added that what it comes down to is knowing what productivity means and feeling that improvement in your organization based on individual and company measures taken.
Ariel Parrella-Aureli is a Workforce intern. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.