Perspectives

Bring your labor into sharper focus

A new lens on wiser workforce management

​A key to smarter workforce management solutions is to be able to see the whole, within the context of all your company’s other activities, and then to use that complete view to optimize any number of variables—not just labor cost and scheduling, as important as they are, but also metrics like employee contentment, customer loyalty, and product quality. Intelligent use of data and analytics can transform workforce management from an essentially tactical, transaction-based function into a strategic tool for helping your company succeed.

Optimize your workforce, drive sustainable savings, and improve productivity

Restructuring how you handle workforce management is not a question of if, but rather of when. Some companies are already painfully aware of their outdated operating model and lack of insight into their workforces. Others are just beginning to realize how much overspending and scheduling problems they have. Their workforce managers may never become real business partners, until they gain that important analytical lens into their total workforce.

The good news is that the data is there—accessible and rich with intelligence about how their businesses operate. That does not mean these companies will not have to go through a significant transformation before they can reap the benefits of optimal workforce management. But it does mean that they already have many of the processes, systems, and data to begin the effort. Now they need to leverage their data to expose what is actually happening, keep the business benefits in mind, create urgency, and be willing to change.

Changes come to the workforce

Despite the many different kinds of software companies have at their disposal to manage their labor needs, the 21st century workplace is an incredibly complex place. Some of the factors that companies must cope with that determine who to engage, how much to pay them, and how to arrange their schedules include:

  • Optimal pay: Given that payroll cost can be one of the biggest areas of spending, it is no surprise that managers are always looking for ways to save on these costs. The problem is that they are pretty sure they are overspending, but they do not know how much, or where, or why.
  • Balancing work and life: One of the biggest obstacles to returning schedules to equilibrium is that many employers are not measuring the impact of such schedules on productivity, absenteeism, and turnover—all important, if indirect, measures of work-life balance.
  • The gig economy: The notion of a perfectly stable, long-term, full-time workforce is a thing of the past. Now, employees come in various modes—full-time, part-time, contingent, freelance, and contract.
  • Rules and regulations: For a variety of reasons, governments have been pushing regulations governing how workers are classified and scheduled, and the kinds of benefits they receive. These new regulations are having a considerable impact on labor costs and scheduling practices—and making it that much more critical for companies to view workforce management in a more strategic light.
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Analyzing the future

Taken together, strategically managing today’s workforce is no easy task. But companies are now able to view and influence their workforce activities through a much wider and more detailed lens, thanks to the new analytical tools that let them manage their workforces within the context of their entire business.

The future lies in being able to look at what is happening inside your company compared with what should happen. That is where people are working and being influenced by their pay rates, schedules, and everything else that determines how—and how happily—they work. That is the level of detail analytics should be showing you—at the front lines, as though you were standing right there next to them.

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Practice makes perfect in data analytics

Implementing the analytics engine that can provide this degree of strategic insight is only half the effort. The underlying data also has to be crafted to inform the analytics engine, yet few organizations have designed their timekeeping, scheduling, and HR and payroll systems with advanced analytics in mind. To that end, workforce management professionals should redesign their systems to produce the necessary data. The further challenges are operational and organizational and fall into three areas:

  1. Identify and measure the effect of workforce management on the organization
  2. Centralize workforce management responsibility
  3. Design with intent
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