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The Summertime Crunch

Our latest workforce survey reveals that 69% of US workers polled plan to take off time between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  This obviously presents challenges for employers who seek to keep their operations running smoothly throughout these peak vacation months.

According to our board member Steve Hunt, what employers should NOT do is discourage employees from  using their vacation.  This is especially true when managing employees in high stress jobs who might readily forego vacation if they thought it could adversely affect their careers.  There is quite a bit of empirical research showing that vacation plays an important role in keeping people physically healthy in terms of managing stress.   People who do not take vacation are likely to suffer decreased work performance and satisfaction over time.  Vacations really do allow us to “recharge” and avoid burn-out – as such they can be thought of playing a similar role for ensuring a long-term, effective workforce as ensuring employees’ work schedules allow them to get a reasonable amount of sleep.

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The New Industrial Revolution

Photo Credit: ClawzCTR

There was a recent article in IndustryWeek, “How Ceradyne Increased Productivity through Effective Labor Management” that raised some questions for me. This article was co-authored by one of my colleagues, Gregg Gordon, and explains how Ceradyne has used Kronos solutions to optimize their workforce productivity. Ceradyne is using a broad suite of Kronos capabilities to improve overall labor effectiveness (OLE) – a key performance indicator that can be used by manufacturers to measure the optimal balance of workforce availability, productivity and quality.

What I wondered about is how the implementation of Kronos technology affects worker morale – and what companies can do to take advantage of workforce productivity tools without leaving their workers feeling that they been taken advantage of.

Gregg focuses on the manufacturing sector for Kronos, and had a number of war stories to share – as well as some great suggestions he’s picked up from customers who’ve successfully implemented workforce tracking and scheduling software. He’s worked with companies around the world who walk the delicate line between the need to control expenses and the need to hold onto skilled workers in competitive economies. Here are some of his suggestions:

  1. Get employees who’ll be affected by these changes involved in helping management implement them. An example Gregg provided was of a pharma company implementing time and attendance tracking for scientists. This population had not had to “punch in” in the past. The reason for the change was to map R&D human resource investments to projects in order to substantiate proposed pricing – an objective these workers understood and applauded. The ultimate solution was to have the scientists update a timecard biweekly by noting any exceptions to their exempt 8 hour days – but not by having them punch in and out every day.
  2. Explain to affected employees how they’ll benefit. These types of Kronos solutions can benefit employees by providing more accurate overtime tracking, accommodating employee preferences in shift scheduling, fair and consistent application of policies, etc. Workers who understand these benefits – and experience them personally – are more likely to support the change.
  3. Implement changes in small increments. Enterprise software solutions can impose a lot of change on an organization. The key to successful implementation is to enable the new capabilities in digestable increments that employees can accept, master and absorb. For companies new to time and attendance, just getting employees to punch in and out is a big step forward.
  4. Measure progress. Pick a few key metrics, track them and report back on them to key stakeholders. The metrics will vary based on your business, but you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Kronos customer Crossland Construction believes that their ability to provide these types of metrics to their customers is providing them with a competitive advantage.

How do you think organizations can take advantage of human capital management technologies without taking advantage of the humans involved?

Hourly Workforce Planning: One Size Does Not Fit All

photo credit: jrbrubaker

Take a look at our newest white paper, “Increasing Hourly Workforce Productivity: Different types of work, different types of workers“. Our board member, Steve Hunt, wrote this paper in response to a spirited discussion we had during our last board meeting.

During that meeting, we talked about the inherent flaws in trying to define best practices in hourly workforce management without addressing the fundamental differences between hourly jobs. Layer on the demographic differences among the employees who perform these jobs, and the concept of best practices becomes even more nuanced.

In Steven’s white paper, he provides a framework to help organizations think about how differences in the competencies required for different types of hourly jobs translate into differences in talent management best practices. Throughout the talent management lifecycle, those differences should drive decisions regarding how employers choose to attract, train, engage and retain their workforce in the pursuit of optimal productivity.

For more insight on this topic, listen to the podcast below for an interview with Steven Hunt.

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