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Celebrate Better Business Communication Day with your Hourly Workers

video on timeclockToday’s guest post is courtesy of Workforce Institute board member Bob Clements.  Bob is Senior Principal at Axsium Group, a leading workforce management consulting firm. In the post below, he shares ideas about how workforce management technology capabilities can enhance the effectiveness of communications with your frontline workers – especially those who aren’t at a computer all day.  Pictured here is one example that Bob cites below – using a time clock to deliver instructional information to employees who don’t work on laptops.

Today, January 26, 2015, is Better Business Communication Day.  I have to admit that I did not have this holiday in my calendar.  It seems the world is full of made-up holidays like “International Day of Awesomeness” (March 10), National Leave the Office Earlier Day” (June 2), “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” (September 19) and National Christmas Ugly Sweater Day (December 11).  Like you, I ignore most of them, but Better Business Communication Day caught my attention.

We could all do a better job with our business communication: less email (and email that is more to the point), fewer meetings (and meetings that are more to the point), and more real-time interpersonal communication (i.e., conversation) with colleagues.  One area that really needs help is communication with hourly workers.

Don’t get me wrong.  A lot has been written about effective business communication.  Organizations spend tremendous energy crafting messages that will resonate with their workers, especially when it is a big topic, and when organizations have big topics to share, they spend big bucks on brochures, websites, videos and more to spread the word.

But, what about the little messages?  What about the day-to-day messages that make your hourly workers feel connected to the organization, its leadership, and its direction?  And, how do you turn communication from one where you are talking act your workers into a conversation where your hourly workers’ voices are heard?

For many, email is not an effective tool.  It is not practical to give a retail sales associate or production line workers a work email address.  Company portals are an option but portals are not something that workers interact with regularly.  What’s needed is something that hourly workers interact with every day that helps improve their productivity rather than distract them from doing their jobs.

The good news is such a thing exists and you probably already have it in your organization.  It is the time clock and the workforce management (WFM) software that drives it.  Every day, your workers need to clock in and out. Modern time clocks can do much more than simply capture time.  Many are capable of delivering messages to workers, ensuring they get read, and some support two-way communication.  But, the time clock is just one aspect of your WFM system that can improve communication with hourly workers.

Many WFM systems include messaging or communication capabilities that act like email but without the cost of additional email licenses and the trouble of providing email clients.  Like email, leaders can send messages to groups of hourly workers while individuals can send notes to with ideas, questions and observations. Unlike email, rules and workflow can control replies, notifications, etc. to keep such communication from being overwhelming.

Another WFM module, Task Management, gives organizations powerful ways to communication tasks that need to be completed at remote locations.  These tasks can include detailed instructions including drawings, photos and video that show exactly what needs to be done.  Workers have the ability to provide feedback in the form of written communication or surveys about the task, any problems that they had completing it, and suggestions for ways to do it better in the future.

Tasks managed via a Task Management system can be instructive like “setup a display” or it can prompt workers to complete a survey or take a training course.

A hot new idea in WFM is social collaboration.  With social collaboration, workers log into the WFM system via a browser, tablet or mobile device and are given a Facebook-like newsfeed of conversations happening between others around the organization.  They can participate in these discussion or start their own.  Social collaboration is a powerful means to solve problems, share best practices and develop relationships between employees in geographically dispersed locations.

So, join me in celebrating Better Business Communication Day.  Use your WFM system as a channel to improve communications with your hourly workforce.

Workforce Trends Advice Videos for SMB Organizations

SaasHR video seriesSaaShr (a Kronos company) is launching an educational series of videos to help small and medium sized organizations navigate a wide range of business issues they face in managing their employees.  I wrote about some of the trends facing SMB organizations in a recent article I did for the Huffington Post.  Having been in the technology industry for over 30 years, I’ve had a lot of experience in deploying technology solutions in everything from 50 person companies to the largest companies in the world.  One thing I’ve learned is that smaller doesn’t necessarily mean less complex.  If anything, smaller companies may need even more sophisticated tools to support their lean operations.

The Workforce Trends video series will feature an array of  workforce management experts who deploy solutions for their customers every day.  From the Affordable Care Act to mobile, cloud, big data and outsourcing, these experts have already “been there and done that”.  You can tune in here to check out the first video in the series, with advice on what SMB organizations need to know to be in compliance with the Affordable Care Act.

Relevant Links:

Five Major Trends That Will Impact Small and Medium Businesses in 2015 – Huffington Post 

Workforce Institute Predictions of Top 5 Workforce Management Trends in 2015

 

 

Millennials Rise Up To Management In 2015

headshot6_schawbel_largeToday’s guest post is from our newest board member, Dan Schawbel.  Dan is the Founder of WorkplaceTrends.com, a research and insights membership service for forward-thinking HR professionals, and the New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0.  Below, Dan explores a trend on the minds of lots of HR pros, what happens in the workplace as the Millennials rise into the management ranks?

One of the biggest trends I’ve been following is the rise of Millennials into management roles. It’s going to happen at an unprecedented rate in 2015. Are Millennials (and the workplace) ready?

I’m a Millennial myself, have released twenty primary research studies around this topic and reviewed thousands of reports. A few years ago, we found that Millennials accounted for approximately 13% of management positions in America. Last year, we worked with Elance-oDesk to see the growth of Millennials into management roles since. We found that 27% of Millennials are now managers and, in the next ten years, nearly half (47%) want to be either managers or senior managers.

Two separate studies show that we might have underestimated the surge of Millennial managers in the workplace. First, EY found that 59% of their managers are already Millennials and 18% are senior managers. 90% of all Millennials who are managers took their role in the past five years.  Second, a CareerBuilder study found that 38% of the workforce is already managed by Millennials.

Regardless of source, Millennials are being rushed into management roles because more boomers are leaving the workforce due to retirement or an encore career. Since they haven’t been in the workforce for very long, many are unprepared for these new managerial roles. Just because you know how to do your job, doesn’t mean that you have the ability to manage other people. Millennials’ lack of preparation is due not only to the aging workforce but the entitlement that some have showcased  when it comes to promotions.

Another aspect of this trend that often gets overlooked is that younger workers have fear and anxiety when managing older workers. In many situations, you will find a Millennial managing a Gen X or baby boomer employee. Since these generations have a challenging time relating to each other, it’s become a real struggle in the workplace. We have found that despite all generations preferring face time, there is still a major technology gap and learning curve between generations. While Millennials are using Snapchat, Instagram, texting and instant messaging, older generations want to speak on the phone or in person.  In order to shrink the technology gap, and bring all generations together in a way that enables Millennials to be better managers, a formal mentoring and training program is required.

It goes without saying that all generations can learn from each other. When in management, Millennials should seek to learn from older managers. One way to force this interaction is to create a mentoring program at your company. This way, Millennial managers can meet with Gen X and boomer managers on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to learn about leadership techniques and acquire new management skills. Every new Millennial manager should go through this program so they are better prepared for their position and because these mentors become a lifeline just in case there are employee issues and complaints down the road.

I personally think it’s a very exciting time to be in the workforce as a Millennial manager because you can innovate, learn and fuel the next generation of corporate growth.

To what extent are the management ranks filling with Millennials in your organization?  What is the impact of this migration?