Today’s post is from our board member, David Creelman. David is CEO of Creelman Research, and a frequently published expert on human capital management issues. Following is his take on why organizations should balance the productivity benefits of scheduling software with the needs of the human beings whose schedules are being managed.
In Leslie Perlow’s book Sleeping with your Smartphone she relates the tale of Boston Consulting Group consultants who recognized that one of the major drawbacks in their life was that they never knew when they’d have to work late. They decided to fix that by committing, as a team, to having Wednesday as a predictable night off. Not only did they succeed in improving their work-life by sticking to this commitment, they became more productive as they figured out how to avoid the kind of crisis that might lead to a late night.
Hourly workers might have a good laugh about consultants complaining about unpredictable hours. Hourly workers would agree that it can be a real drag never knowing when you will have to work. Unfortunately, unlike the consultants, they can’t just make their own rules about when they work. Setting schedules is up to management.
Managers are often tempted to set up schedules that minimize visible costs without worrying about how it affects employees’ lives. However, optimizing on visible costs while creating high hidden costs isn’t really optimization at all. The hidden costs show up in fatigue, turnover, low morale, and unplanned absences. Ignoring these costs hurts the bottom line.
Technically, modern scheduling software has the power to optimize on both visible and hidden costs. If for example, you want to promise employees predictable time off, well that is easy enough to do. The only challenge is someone coming along and saying, “Hey you seem to be costing us money by pampering employees.” To counter this there needs to be at least a back of the envelope calculation on how much value is created by setting employee-friendly schedules. For example, one doesn’t have to improve much on turnover to pay for any sub-optimization of visible costs. It is also worth noting that customers like seeing the same faces, so employee-friendly scheduling is probably customer-friendly as well.
Managers need to recognize that intangibles like fatigue and morale have tangible costs. Failing to include consideration of intangibles in scheduling is fiscally irresponsible. Let’s do the right thing for employees and for the organization by making the extra effort to set up scheduling so that it really optimizes work.
What’s your organization doing to balance worker rights and productivity?
One of the most important issues we help our clients address is the need to match their workforce to a changing workload. One way to do this is to use workforce analytics and scheduling technology to make data driven decisions about how to deploy talent. That talent often consists of a mix of full time, part time and contingent (temporary) workers. The chart here from Harvard Business Review notes that the different categories of temporary workers represent a significant portion (31%) of the US workforce.
The rise of the freelance economy has been predicted frequently in the last 15 years or so. When I worked at talent management vendor BrassRing (now IBM Kenexa) years ago, we frequently discussed whether the resume was dead, whether the internet would remove the role of the recruiter altogether, and whether the freelance economy would replace the traditional model of employer-employee. While the resume is still with us, social tools like LinkedIn have made it easier than ever for recruiters (yup, still with us) to find great talent. And yes, the freelancers continue to become a more important part of the overall workforce.
In a new blog post on Harvard Business Review, Workforce Institute board member David Creelman and his co-authors John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan write about the emergence of talent platforms that help organizations hire and manage freelance workers. The examples in this article are focused on creative talent for project-based work at ad agencies. Read on to learn about how some of these new talent platforms are enabling the connection of freelancers and those who need their services in “Tongal, dLance, and Topcoder Will Change How You Compete”. The question the article raises is how easily this model could be extended to other types of freelance work.
What’s going on in your organization? Do you use a lot of freelancers? Do you use talent platforms like the ones mentioned in the HBR post to engage and manage them?
Yesterday I chatted with our board members David Creelman and William Tincup about what organizations need to do to create HR analytics that matter to the business. Big Data is one of the linchpins of the big 4 SMAC themes in technology today: Social-Mobile-Analytics-Cloud. Deployed alone and in various combinations, these technologies continue to transform the way work gets done. For many people, harnessing the power of big data remains a new frontier. In this podcast, David and William share their thoughts on some of the following questions:
- If you’re new to analytics, how do you get started?
- What skills do you need to implement analytics projects?
- How do you present the results of your data analysis to senior management?
You can listen to our conversation here:
What have you done to embed more data-driven decision making into your organization?