Aaron Rodolph, president of Rodolph Brothers, Inc., in Casper, Wyoming, says he’s become challenged to find an accurate way to track hours without insulting his millennial employees, which comprise about half of his workforce. With studies showing that millennials value freedom in their jobs above all other factors, Rodolph was challenged to find a way in which he could control payroll costs while still offering his employees the freedom they desire. While payroll is the highest cost of the business, it’s also been the hardest to control.

Coming up with a one-size-fits-all solution was by no means simple. Crews at Rodolph Brothers work very different schedules. While some employees work alone and have more flexibility, others must work as a team. Some employees had errands or needed to take their kids somewhere and needed flexibility in the middle of the day and a normal time clock wouldn’t facilitate a middle-of-the-day break. Rodolph knew he had to think outside the box. Ultimately, he took a multi-faceted approach incorporating both a tracking application and written policy.

“We used About Time, which runs as an app on the employees’ phones and tabulates in the cloud,” Rodolph explains. “They can clock in and out as many times as they like in real time. Then that data is accessible to all managers so they can see the exact minutes that each employee worked as well as what jobs they did.”

Rodolph says the company also wrote some specific policy about clocking out. For example, if an employee is driving to a job site in a company vehicle and they want to stop at a deli along the way, they must clock out when they stop. When they get their food, and get back in the truck, they can clock in before driving. If the employee decides he is going to go off-route and drive across town to his favorite deli, they must clock out as soon as they break from the route.

“This allows for an employee to come and go as long as they still maintain their commitments and serve their clients as expected,” Rodolph says. “If you want to have coffee with a friend in the mid-morning, and you can work it into your schedule, you can be free to do so as long as you do so within the constraints of your particular job. For instance, maybe you can work a little later that day or start earlier. The solution means freedom for those that value it.”

Rodolph says the solution has worked well but still requires some balancing on the crews’ parts. Since some teams must stay together in order to work safely there is no way to achieve “perfect freedom.” In addition, during the summer, when the company is busy nonstop, some of that freedom must be waived in order to keep up with everything.

“We understand that it is a balance and this system is the key to achieving it,” Rodolph says. “A Proverb balances the concept of freedom versus productivity nicely. It states: The appetite of employees works for them; their hunger drives them on.”

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