The world of work is changing fast, and so are employee expectations. Workers are looking to current and potential employers to provide them with the consumer-grade digital tools they need to do their jobs well and support additional flexibility to maintain a better work-life balance.
An investment in modern workforce management technology that incorporates scalable, secure and digitized employee experience capabilities can repay itself many times over and directly impact an organization’s ability to be more innovative, agile, profitable and enduring with their customers.
Gartner reports in their “Market Guide for Workforce Management Applications” that by 2025, 80% of large enterprises with hourly workers will have invested in workforce management solutions to support digital workplace initiatives. If you are one of these organizations, here are some considerations based on recent successful workforce management engagements.
Consider Today’s Workforce and How They Use Technology
Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever, especially when it comes to age. For the first time, there are five distinct generations of workers in the active workforce, from the Silent Generation to Gen Z. Of these groups, a full 73% are digital natives who have grown up relying on digital technologies. The elder generations have also become increasingly comfortable with mobile tech and the convenience and efficiency it brings to their daily lives.
These workers are carrying miniature supercomputers in their pockets every day via their smartphones, yet many businesses have not tapped into this power when considering ways to engage and support employees. Any workforce management technology an organization considers should have the ability to leverage the power of mobile devices for workers and offer alternatives for workers without them.
Multiple customers were surprised to find that, when offered the option to “opt-in” for mobile solutions to their teams, roughly 95% of their employees signed up. The vast majority of workers have come to prefer the ease and productivity advantages of instant access through mobile devices. Studies show that workplaces where employees lack digital access can even handicap an organization when attracting and retaining talent.
Employee Experience: Tech That Attracts and Retains Talent
“Employee experience” refers to the individual moments and interactions that make up an employee’s journey within an organization and their perception of their jobs. While there is considerable focus on major employee events—recruiting, first day, promotion, training—there is less emphasis on supporting the day-to-day interactions that are shown to have a significant impact on how employees feel about their employer. Do employees feel supported and treated fairly by management? Can they provide input into improvements that could be made in their daily work?
For managers to impact employee experience, they must feel empowered to implement change for their employees. Unfortunately, more than 86% report they do not. Workforce management technology enables management to leverage worker data, monitor employee sentiment, and identify potential issues and take action before problems mount.
Digital business technology is an overwhelmingly important factor in attracting new talent. Studies show that when choosing their next positions, employees prefer workplace technology that enables flexibility. According to FlexJobs’ eighth annual survey, 30% of respondents have reported leaving a job because it did not offer flexible work options. Without digitized scheduling, scheduling processes and employee input into schedule availability, many organizations will struggle to meet this need.
While many associate “new business technology” with the spike in remote work, the need goes far beyond that. Modern workforce management systems can help employees to feel valued, trusted and heard by their employers—no matter where they do their work. This results in less turnover, more employee engagement and greater customer satisfaction.
The Deskless Worker
While many office workers had the option to switch to remote work because of the pandemic, others were left out. Deskless shift workers (those who work on-site, in the field, on the assembly line or otherwise in a physical location to perform their jobs) did not receive many of the new benefits of workplace technology. Despite making up 80% of all workers worldwide, only 1% of workplace technology is designed for deskless workers’ specific needs. While performing digitally disconnected roles, these workers and their employers can still greatly benefit from the right kind of technology investment to meet their unique needs.
The key is to choose technology that supports all workers. Be sure to look out for solutions that support these specific capabilities.
Scheduling: Advanced scheduling capabilities can be used to support greater employee flexibility and optimized use of labor. Schedules can be sent directly to workers’ smartphones, where any necessary changes can be coordinated. Managers can also use employee data to assemble more efficient teams with knowledge of employee skill level, compliance requirements and availability.
Communication: An open communication channel allows all employees to interact in groups or one-to- one to share ideas, instructions and help one another when the need arises. Real-time communications can also notify managers and workers that messages are being received and assure that their voices are being heard. In-the-moment worker surveys can be used to gauge employee morale, manage difficulties in their work procedures and address minor issues before they become major problems.
Task Management: Digital checklists provide the ability for managers and workers to collaborate, identify issues in a workflow, and—along with video and photo sharing—ensure that HQ directives are being received and carried out.
Training: Many employees receive almost all their work training in their first few weeks of employment—and forget nearly all of it within six months. By enabling digital training to be immediately sent and easily accessed through their smartphones, workers can learn how to perform certain functions when and where work is happening. Enabling in-the-moment training and instant access to information also allows organizations to continue to adapt to ongoing changes much more quickly.
Agility, Flexibility and Work/Life Balance
The primary function of workforce management technology is to optimize labor management and to make work easier for your entire organization. This is best accomplished by its contributions to agility, flexibility and work/life balance.
Agility is one of the most important capabilities a business can have. During recent disruptions, many organizations experienced weaknesses in their ability to identify and adapt to change. To remain competitive, companies must adapt faster than ever before. The ability to communicate, adjust and schedule workers easily, as needed, and quickly, will be an asset to any organization.
Flexibility is continually listed as very important to potential employees. Even more than compensation, the modern worker values their freedom. The ability to change their schedules, access their personal data directly, and move with independence through their work and personal life is of paramount importance to employers they select and decide to remain with.
When selecting workforce management tech for your organization, the ultimate consideration is your most important asset: your employees. The digitization of employee systems and processes can be leveraged to make employees’ work easier. Open communication lines throughout the entire organization allow for a better, more fluid employee experience, and give employees the independence to contribute to their fullest potential and achieve a more ideal work/life balance.