The future of workforce management
25 June 2018
This article was featured in the July - August 2018 issue of the magazine.
Stuart Price MCIPPdip, business analyst at MHR, sets out arguments for modern time and attendance
It is increasingly difficult for companies to monitor and plan time and attendance (T&A) in a way that reflects today’s business environment, with its mobile, flexible and often part-time workforce. Difficulties with monitoring lead to gaps in staffing, while a poor T&A strategy makes flexibility and self-reliance impossible for employees – which is bad news for everyone involved.
Manual T&A processes are often still used as they are viewed as accurate methods for ensuring staff compliance, but this is not always the case. For example, clock-in card systems are sometimes used to ensure employees are at work on time but there are inevitably instances where colleagues clock-in for work-friends who are late or absent.
Another drawback is that these systems only act as a timestamp of when employees are on/off the premises. Wouldn’t it be great if this information was connected to wider workforce management processes so that you have greater insight into your business operations?
The workforce everywhere
The advantage of arranging T&A through electronic devices is that they are highly mobile; as are many workers, from maintenance workers with varied shifts to office workers who can make use of flexi-time. Obviously not everyone works in an office, but this gets forgotten by businesses that have a bias based on their own experiences, which are completely at odds with the experience of mobile staff within their own business. For example, a company may use desktop systems in their offices but on a building site, or a customer premises without accessible power points, the system fails.
Luckily, computer systems can be accessed through smart phones, which are accessible in virtually every place of work. As well as logging the hours they work, mobile workers can show when one job starts or finishes as well as creating a record of the time it takes to commute between jobs; data that is essential for planning – a level of insight not possible using a traditional T&A solution.
...managers have more time to concentrate on the broader needs of the business
Engagement through trust
By giving employees the chance to log-in or set their schedule from anywhere and add notes around absences, trust and motivation are maintained. This is simpler than ever for staff who use a central software system to manage themselves. Staff feel empowered and with no manual analysis required, their managers have more time to concentrate on the broader needs of the business. Data on staff gaps are automatically provided to managers, helping them to quickly and easily ensure business continuity.
Allowing staff to set their own schedules and manage their workload are key components of employee engagement. The trust that is built through empowering staff is directly felt in their work – motivated staff perform better.
Data is essential for planning staff effectively and applies to all kinds of workers, like traveling sales people and home-based workers. In all cases, trends can be identified around periods where productivity is low, and answers found over what can be done to fix the problem.
In retail, there are not only shifts to consider, but the many different break times through the day for a wide range of staff carrying out many different jobs; like in a large supermarket where enough people need to be available to assist customers at all times. This is an example of where trends can be identified using software to make sure demand is met, by pinpointing the busiest periods so breaks can be avoided at those times. Trying to monitor this manually is much harder, whereas using a system to collect this and process it automatically for you produces a clear picture, which is accurate and is based on what has actually happened, minute by minute.
Using accurate data in appraisals means discussions with staff can be based on statistical facts which helps all parties find the best solutions for any problems in meeting deadlines or managing time effectively – having staff in the right place and a record at your fingertips is great news for every business.
As well as all these benefits, an advantage of a multi-purpose software system is that data compliance is made simpler for legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act. Modern systems are made with this in mind, and the data only passes through one system making data protection compliance far easier – just one more benefit to using the right software.