Chemung County Administration Solved Their Timekeeping Challenges with Journyx
Chemung County, covering 411 square miles, beats with the vitality of a modern business center on the southern border of New York and the border of Pennsylvania. It’s home to nearly 90,000 residents and is the gateway to the Finger Lakes region, a popular tourist destination famous for its history, geography, and culture. For the government of Chemung County, providing essential services to its population and growing number of tourists is a top priority. The County’s employee base of more than 1,000 covers as many as 60 distinct programs, services, and departments, making the accurate tracking of time and labor highly complex.
In fact, managing employees’ time and labor information had been a challenge for Chemung County for years. “We had an antiquated time and attendance system, but employees were keeping time in a lot of different ways, mostly on paper, and we couldn’t get the consistency with how rules and policies were being enforced,” said Tom Drum, Information Technologies Specialist for Chemung County. “We needed a system to fully automate what were mostly manual systems and systems that were outdated.” These program models provide a continuum of services and accommodate a wide range of support needs including services designed to support people who may have multiple disabilities, complex medical and behavioral health needs, and whose needs are changing due to age or other circumstances.
The Journyx Solution
Chemung County turned to Journyx for their new automated timekeeping solution. With a full suite of software including our premier solution for employee time and attendance, our fully featured scheduling add-on, and access to both web-based and mobile app timekeeping, Chemung County was ready to implement an automated workforce timekeeping solution.
By replacing their error-prone pen and paper time tracking with a cloud-based automated employee time, attendance, and scheduling solution, Chemung County sought to achieve clear goals:
- Improve consistency
- Minimize compliance risks
- Control labor costs
Meeting the Needs of a Growing Administration
“In our old time and attendance system, employees all across the county from our Sheriff’s Office to our Department of Social Services used to fill out paper time-off requests,” Drum says.
“It was time-consuming as supervisors had to collect, review, and approve them. Not only that, but at the end of a pay cycle, the clerks would end up having to find the employees who had incorrect or missing punches.” There were other challenges too. “We have several 24-hour departments, including our Sheriff’s Office and Nursing Home. Administering policies such as shift differential and on-call pay was consistently hard to manage.”
But these struggles were easily solved by having one unified, digital, easily accessible solution for time tracking with Journyx.
No more messy and potentially inaccurate paperwork for absences and time off, as employees could request time directly through the Journyx system. And the same system allowed supervisors to instantly approve or reject time off requests.
Similarly, invalid and missing punches are flagged by the system to prevent last-minute corrections and ensure accurate timekeeping across the county. And with digital timekeeping, complex pay rules were made simple. Even the calculations for differences in pay rates for things such as on-call, overtime, and shift timing were handled automatically.
Uniting a Workforce and Centralizing Timekeeping for Payroll
Chemung County administration uses Journyx software to manage time and labor across 60 different departments and offices. All the county’s employees, from the administrator’s staff to road work crews, to recreation department coordinators, use Journyx software to track their work hours.
Creating a centralized, automated system has made it easier for Chemung County to have confidence in information and react to the changing makeup of its workforce.
“Journyx knew that taking on Chemung Country was going to be a big project,” says Tom Drum, Chemung County’s Information Technologies Specialist. “And they delivered.”
“We needed the data in one place, along with a set of consistent processes,” says Drum. “Journyx lets us address various legislative, union, and policy-based challenges. We can makea change in one place using Journyx and not have to worry about how managers across the county are going to interpret the rules. Journyx does it all.”
And to improve efficiency even further, all this workforce data is easily collected and integrated flawlessly with Chemung County’s payroll processing solution, saving time and preventing possible errors in accounting and data entry.
Simplifying Compliance with Unionized Employees
Of course, Chemung County did not always have the flexibility of Journyx’s software. Chemung had been using an older and much simpler time and attendance system, along with manual paper time tracking, for more than twelve years.
As the bargaining agreements between the administration and unions became increasingly complex, it became increasingly obvious that the system they were using was no longer capable of handling these changes. Because the majority of the County’s employees belong to a labor union, the new system had to be ready to handle the variety of pay rules contracted by the seven different unions represented in Chemung County.
With every union having its own standards, members, and goals, it would be impossible to effectively and accurately follow each of their scheduling and compensation rules. Automation and well-tuned employee scheduling software became a necessity.
In their old system, managers or county clerks missing or misinterpreting union rules could slip by unnoticed, which not only made the county liable but clearly under-served the county’s unionized employees. Journyx timekeeping automation turned that situation around, to ensure employee’s union benefits are upheld, and to minimize labor costs through efficient scheduling policies, benefiting everyone involved.
For instance, a civil service union has rules for a 16-hour day with two different lunch breaks and overtime to kick in at 40 hours. This is simple enough to write a scheduling rule for, but it could be easily overlooked by a manager or clerk manually parsing hundreds of paper timecards. And when it comes to union rules, even a simple error could lead to an expensive breach of contract.
Another union has a rule that if an employee works more than eight hours in one 24-hour period, the extra time is considered overtime. For example, an employee is scheduled to work a shift from 8 AM to 4 PM, and on the following day, they are scheduled for 7 AM to 3 PM. The employee would be paid overtime for 1 hour worked before 8 AM. Another simple rule, in theory, that would be unbelievably easy to overlook if a manager wasn’t careful.
“Crazy,” Drum said. “That’s the only way to describe some of the bargaining agreements we have to deal with.”
“Journyx works well because when union contracts are revised, we only have to make the changes once. And we aren’t relying on each clerk’s understanding and possibly misinterpreting the contract changes. All of the information is centralized in one place,” says Drum. “We get detailed information easily and when we need it.”
Building Novel Solutions for Unique Department Needs
Providing uniformity and compliance is the first step, but providing a tailored and configured user experience is another field Journyx excels in. Naturally, Journyx’s professional services department was also able to customize unique solutions for many individual departments in Chemung County government.
The Sheriff’s Office and Jail, for instance, has about 150 employees including supervisors, police officers, and corrections officers. Most employees at these locations are required to arrive for work at least fifteen minutes before the start of their shift to be briefed on the work expected of them for the shift. As long as they punch in by that time, they are awarded extra compensation for the extra fifteen minutes.
But if they punch in even one minute later than they should (in this case, fourteen minutes before their shift), they are not compensated until their shift officially begins. The auditing of this extra time had been handled haphazardly in the past with many discrepancies in who earned the extra pay and who did not. Fortunately, with automated timekeeping and custom pay rule enforcement, it became effortlessly easy to account for this additional compensation.
Outlining policies with clear custom features ensures employees are always compensated fairly and adhere to department policies. Journyx professional services created a solution that allowed easy, online add-ins for scheduling so that pre-shift briefing time could be captured appropriately and sent to payroll.
Serving and Supporting Journyx’s Administrative Partners
Just as important was Journyx’s customer service for employees and system users throughout Chemung County. “We’re never put on hold,” Drum says. “And the Journyx support staff knows the product completely, even our custom programs.”
Even the intuitive, custom-designed functionality of the Journyx system came as a surprise. “If you require any code customization from most other time and attendance vendors, good luck with that,” warns Drum. “Believe me, we went down that road before finding Journyx.”
The Journyx solution came through again, as Tom Drum sums it up:
“The bottom line is that we have a lot of unique requirements that, without a doubt, we couldn’t have gotten out of any other time and attendance package.”
Improving Data Accuracy and Accountability Across the County
“Before Journyx, employees never had the option to view their own timecard,” Drum says. “Because of this, many employees simply didn’t care if they punched in or out because they knew the clerk would call or physically find them at the end of the pay cycle to correct the employee’s hours. It was a very inefficient and time-consuming process.”
“The Journyx solution got rid of a lot of paper,” Drum says. “It gave employees access to their own timecard and forced them to take responsibility for their time in the system— that was really one of the largest changes— employees making sure it was correct. Now all the clerks do is review payroll, which frees up a lot of their time.”
Drum says at least a quarter of each of the 22 county clerks’ time used to be devoted to tracking employee’s hours. “The clerks are free to do other tasks, and productivity increases,” he says. “Employees out in the field now use the mobile app on their cell phones to punch themselves in and out instead of just turning in a sheet of paper at the end of the pay cycle.”
Even county administrators have tailored solutions to make their busy jobs easier to manage. Salaried employees as well those those who work irregular hours simply punch in once per day at any time during their shift to confirm they are on the job.
Altogether, it is the little improvements to each job and department that clearly sets Journyx above the rest when it comes to providing time and attendance for Chemung County.
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