Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Workforce Software’ Category

Organizational Productivity: Staffing and Scheduling Must Work Together

McLendonToday’s guest post is courtesy of our board member, Sharlyn Lauby.  Sharlyn is author of the blog HR Bartender and president of ITM Group Inc.

We keep hearing about the challenges of finding qualified talent. According to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) titled “The New Talent Landscape: Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages”, sixty-eight percent (68%) of human resources professionals report recruiting challenges in today’s talent market. This means that, once organizations find talent, they need to make sure they retain them. It’s estimated that the average cost per hire is $4,129 and the average time to fill an open position is 42 days. Companies spend too many resources to bring talent into the organization just to let their investment walk out the door.

As a result, organizations use a variety of strategies to retain employees, including unlimited vacation time, flexible scheduling and wellness programs to reduce burnout. But one area that might be overlooked is scheduling. Let me share a story to illustrate:

Years ago, I was brought in to an organization to evaluate their onboarding program. Their challenge was that customers were very unhappy with their service. The company was losing huge amounts of money in the form of customer refunds. Employees were frustrated. I understand that handling upset customers is part of our jobs but dealing with angry customers all the time is hard.

The company was convinced that the answer to their problems was to hire more people to keep up with customer demand. My assignment was to make sure new employees were onboarded effectively and efficiently. After spending a little time in their operation, I suggested to senior management that the company had plenty of people. And they had a good onboarding program. The problem? They weren’t scheduling people correctly.

Organizations must 1) hire the right people, 2) hire the right numbers of people, and 3) schedule people to be there at the right times. When these three pieces are working together, the work is distributed properly, employees feel engaged and not overwhelmed, customers are taken care of, and the business succeeds.

The good news is that organizations don’t need a tight rein over scheduling for it to be effective. Companies can give employees the ability to have a say into their work schedule. And it doing so, they’re not creating complete anarchy. Here’s how it works:

  • Employees can take their preferences and availabilities into consideration when they select their schedule. Scheduling is an emotional issue for employees. They want to know they can attend their kid’s school events, family gatherings, and even stay home to watch the Super Bowl. When employees are in control of their schedule, it can increase engagement, improve productivity, and reduce burnout.
  • Today’s technology allows employees to view their schedules in advance, sign up for extra shifts, and swap shifts using their smart devices. The technology has built-in intelligence that ensures employees who swap shifts have the right skills, certifications, qualifications, etc. Of course, this means that managers and employees need to provide relevant information about jobs such as skills and certification requirements so when swapping shifts, those important things are taken into consideration.
  • Finally, managers can stay informed of operational coverage by using their smart devices as well. This reduces the amount of scheduling administration being handled by management and allows them to focus on what’s really important – coaching and developing employees. A positive cycle is created with managers focused on employees and employees focused on customers.

If you’re looking for a real-life case study to illustrate, check out this article in STORES magazine featuring McLendon Hardware. Nathaniel Polky, director of information technology, shares their results. “Employees love seeing their schedules. It’s a small thing, but very important for them to know when and where they are working at any point in time. It gives them choice and flexibility, and it’s been very well received.

Staffing and scheduling are two different things. Many organizations have already aligned staffing with other human resources functions like compensation, benefits, training, etc. Scheduling shouldn’t be considered a stand-alone activity. It works very well with staffing and has a huge impact on the business. It’s time to align the staffing and scheduling functions for maximum productivity and employee engagement.

Reaping WFM Benefits: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

unlock value of WFM july 2015I recently moderated a discussion between Mollie Lombardi, Vice President of Workforce Management Practice and Principal Analyst at Brandon Hall Group and my Kronos colleague Ken Madley, a leader in our presales consulting organization, on the topic of how organizations are thinking about the value of workforce management technology.  Human Capital Management (HCM) and Workforce Management (WFM) solutions are not new, but there are still many organizations that are in the early stages of evaluating this type of technology, especially among small and medium sized business.  In addition, lots of organizations of all sizes have invested in these types of platforms, but may not be reaping the full value from the purchases they’ve already made.

In our discussion, we reviewed how buyers of HCM and WFM technologies are measuring the benefits of their systems – both those they expected as well as others they didn’t.  Some of the questions we addressed were:

  1. What are the key drivers of human capital management technology adoption?
  2. Mollie’s research indicates there is a shift in how organizations are broadening their thinking about the ROI on this type of technology.  Learn about the four key areas that drive a return from these systems.
  3. Mollie shares a valuable tool, the Stakeholder Value Creation Matrix, that can help you create a more effective strategy to drive acceptance and user adoption within your organization.

If you missed this webinar, you can view the slides here:  Unlocking the Value of WFM Technology – Final

You can also watch a replay of the webinar here: Unlocking the Total Value of Workforce Management Technology Webinar

Your IT Systems Can Use Some Spring Cleaning

0209_snow-carsThis has been a particularly brutal winter here in the Boston area. In fact, we got the highest seasonal snowfall in recorded history, racking up a whopping 110.6 inches. For those of you who don’t live in a snowbelt, let me paint a picture for you.

Storms earlier in the season are charming. The snow flutters down, we enjoy the picturesque transformation of the landscape around us. We make soup, bake bread, put the shovels by the front door, and settle in to catch up on Netflix. We work from home if we can to avoid the slippery roads. We’re all in this together.

After weeks of unrelenting cold and mounting snow, however, the regional mood changes dramatically. Commutes double in length as snowdrifts the consistency of cement narrow the roads and cripple the elderly infrastructure of our public transportation. Going shopping becomes a gladiatorial battle for fewer parking spots and short supply items like roof rakes, batteries and bottled water. Everybody including the family dog is depressed by the unrelentingly cold and gray landscape outside. We start reading post-apocalypse books for survival tips.

Eventually, after we’ve endured just about all we can, the spring arrives. We throw open the windows. We clean closets, attics, basements and yards. We embrace the shiny new weather and hope for the best.

Deciding to upgrade or replace your older IT technology is a lot like that transition from winter’s miseries to summer’s delights. Organizations will put up with a lot of inconvenience and outright lack of functionality rather than face the disruption of a technology project. Vendors sell not only against their competitors in this regard, but almost equally against the inertia of incumbent systems that are “good enough” to get by for another year.

But the moment inevitably arises when you can no longer avoid the technology project. Vendors stop supporting your old system, or your environment changes in ways that mandate new capabilities. You can look at the project with dread, or you can embrace the opportunity to make significant improvements in your business. As a veteran of both sides of this equation – systems buyer and seller – I’d like to offer the following strategies to make your next IT project predictably successful.

1. Be clear on your objectives. To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. Even the very best technology vendors don’t know your business as well as you do. Technology enables wise process and policy decisions, it doesn’t replace the need for humans to make those decisions. Before you go shopping for new technology, convene all of the key stakeholders to review what works and what doesn’t in your current environment and establish a vision for what the new system needs to accomplish. Be very specific at this stage about metrics that define success. Not “X needs to happen faster”, but “X needs to happen with 60 minutes of Y”.

2. Take the time to plan your project before you begin. Sometimes buyers are unhappily surprised by the level of effort they have to expend on a technology project once it gets underway. If you are working with consultants or vendors, ask very detailed questions about the time and skills that will be required from your team. Identify all of the factors that will impact the timeline for your project: acquisition of data, possible integrations, third parties that need to get involved, availability of key people needed to make the project successful, other projects competing for the same resources, etc. Now is not the time to engage in magical thinking. Plan for the inevitable surprises and delays.

3. Be disciplined about communications throughout your project. Document what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and who is responsible for executing every step in the process. Establish the channels and cadence of communication that will work for your organization to ensure you are executing your plan. Keep stakeholders outside of the project team informed about progress and setbacks.

4. Get insight from those who’ve gone before you. Ask your vendor for references you can talk to. Take it one step further and find ways to connect to references your vendor didn’t provide. Those back channel sources may be even more candid. Many vendors host online communities where their customers can find and talk to one another. Many industry associations similarly provide advice forums. Forewarned is forearmed.

5. Start engaging your end users early in the project. Involve representatives of your end user community in validating project objectives, evaluating alternative solutions, and previewing solutions before they are rolled out to the larger community. Take their feedback seriously and use it to refine your approach. No matter how masterfully you manage a technology deployment, the win happens when people actually use it to drive better results.

This article originally published in the Huffington Post.