Are You Ready For The 4G workplace?

multi-generational-workplace-300x199The recent UKCES (UK Commission for Employment and Skills) report ‘The Future of Work’ takes a look at the workplace of the future and whether the emerging multi-generational workplace will be a good or a bad thing for employers and employees and the CIPD’s study of nearly 3000 employees and over 900 employers points strongly to the latter. It also highlights the fact that few employers are actually planning for this phenomenon.

  •          31% of employers say that they react to issues relating to the ageing population as they arise rather than having a strategy in place.
  •          34% of employers say their organisation does nothing to ensure it has access to enough skilled and diverse people of all ages.
  •          22% of employers say their organisation has no provisions in place to ensure employees of all ages develop and keep their skills up to date.
  •          46% of employers said that line managers are not trained in managing teams of different generations and that their organisation has no plans to change this.

Almost a third of employees saw no challenges whatsoever in working with colleagues from different generations, with employers and employees in agreement that knowledge sharing and greater innovation are by far the leading benefit which is very reassuring to know but, as can be seen from the statistics above, if employers aren’t ready to meet the differing needs of all their employees the benefits of the 4G workplace may not be gained.

With this huge increase in 4 Generation (4G) workers, the workplace of the future has to be more flexible about where, when and the number of hours people will be working. So how are employers going to manage this greater need for flexibility and ensure that workloads are spread appropriately according to skills and capabilities? One thing seems clear to me – without the workforce management technology in place to support this flexibility – employers will struggle.

CIPD Report

UKCES Report

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Why Employers Should Care About The Health & Wellbeing Of Their Employees

imagesCA091RLFHow should employers feel about their employees’ health and wellbeing and how responsible are we for our own health?

According to a recent article in HRGrapevine, a new survey by Investors in People shows that over 50% of their respondents felt employers have no regard for their health and of those employees almost 50% say it has led to them feeling less motivated with a third indicating they may look for a new job as a result. The report made me realise that there are a couple of serious questions that need to be considered before we can say that employers don’t care about their employees.

Firstly, there is a debate as to whether employers, outside the general health and safety of employees whilst carrying out their job, are actually responsible for their employee’s health and well-being. How much and what employees eat or drink, how often they exercise and how they deal with stress could be considered nothing to do with their employer unless it impacts their ability to do their job. At this point it is no longer a case of caring about an employee’s well-being and simply becomes a case of an employer managing decreased productivity, absence and even disciplinary procedures.

This then begs the question – can employers afford to ignore the general health and wellbeing of their employees if doing so leads to employee disengagement with the associated issues of decreased productivity, increased turnover and high absence and sickness costs?

Addressing the issues that arise around employee wellbeing and the broader issues of engagement and productivity could be down to a few simple measures that encourage employees to help take control of their own health and wellbeing. These could include offering free fruit, serving healthier food in a cafeteria, or providing yoga or massage sessions to help employees deal with stress or deal with muscular-skeletal issues. Other solutions employers may consider could be a full Employee Assistance Programme whilst others may need to take a closer look at their organisational culture and how well managers manage employees.

In fact there are multiple factors that influence how happy and engaged people are at work and if you are interested and want to know what does affect employee engagement take a look at our survey report on ‘The Forgotten Workforce’.

Is Technophobia Preventing Your Business From Reaching Its Full Potential?

technophobiaDefinition of Technophobia from Wikipedia: ‘Technophobia is the fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices, especially computers. Although there are numerous interpretations of technophobia, they seem to become more complex as technology continues to evolve. The term is generally used in the sense of an irrational fear, but others contend fears are justified.’

Now, some of you will be sitting and nodding in agreement – ‘Yes, technology is a mystery to me and I don’t need it anyway! Whilst others are probably thinking ‘What on earth is the problem? Technology is fantastic! Where would we be without it? Bring it on!’  But, generally, people tend to sit somewhere between these two extremes… ‘I will use it at work because I have to or, I love it, can’t get enough of it, what is the next gadget I can get’

At work technology is commonplace – it could be an email solution, a solution for presenting financial information or documentation, or even a manufacturing process solution. At home you could be using your computer, phone or iPad for online shopping or banking. But if your organisation is resistant to technology – it could be wasting time, money and lagging behind more agile competitors.

Manual processes that, when automated, can improve productivity, ensure compliance and reduce labour costs could be something that your technophobic organisation may be avoiding, fearing it will be too complex and costly to implement; yet it could have the single most positive impact on your organisation’s bottom line and bring real competitive advantage. After all, when the right people are in the right place at the right time and productivity is being tracked and measured, the visibility and control it gives can only lead to better business decisions and improve profitability allowing you to free up capital to support other areas of your business strategy.

If you don’t wish to invest capital in a solution that will help you manage your people more effectively, you should consider a SaaS solution. Software as a Service enables organisations to invest in technology on a per employee per month basis – you use only what you need, you will achieve significant business benefits without upfront capital outlay and without waiting on your over-stretched IT resource to set up any required infrastructure as it is managed and hosted by the supplier. It will give you a technological advantage and agility that will allow you to compete with larger organisations by streamlining your workforce management operations. If, like many, you are concerned that your organisation is suffering from a little technophobia take a look at this useful guide: ‘Unlocking Your Workforce Potential’.

Seismic Shift – Waking Up to the Strategic Value of Workforce Management

Originally Posted by my colleague Joyce Maroney at the Workforce Institute:

mall-shopper-173x300Today’s guest post is by our board member,  Mark Wales.  Mark is an expert in workforce management for the retail industry.  Here he shares his perspective on how retailers and services providers are looking to their workforce as a strategic asset and not just an expense to be minimised.

Recently at an International Workforce Management Summit I witnessed the seismic shift in how workforce management is perceived and how it has grown in strategic importance to retailers and service providers. Ten years ago it was IT and HR who attended these events, now it was exclusively Operations. Why the dramatic change and what does it mean for the workforce?

The reason for the change is the rising strategic value of employees. While many retailers and service providers may see labour as the largest controllable cost, many have turned the corner and realized that their brand, their business model, and their profitability depend on how wisely they invest in their employees.

It is essential to pay your employees in a timely and accurate manner with appropriate controls and visibility. That, however, is not enough. It does not maximise the full potential of your employees, your customers, or your profitability. You will fail to recognise the value of many facets of employee experience, customer experience and productivity. To raise the strategic importance of workforce management you must draw a direct link between investing in the employee, impacting the customer experience and driving profitability.

Forward thinking retailers and service providers are building a new generation Operations discipline.  They envision a holistic multidisciplinary approach to workforce management that is centred on productivity and optimisation of both the employee and customer experience. You will see this impacting hiring, training, team management, service design, organisational responsibilities, and decision making. The changes may seem subtle and evolutionary at first, but they have the potential to radically impact company performance over time.

The Workforce Institute

Further reading:

Aberdeen Group: The State of the Workforce in Retail – Taking A Global View

Monitoring Absence At Work Does Not Increase It

AbsenceThere has been a lot of coverage recently about getting sick people back to work. It is a big issue for most businesses – and the Government takes the loss of productivity caused by absence, particularly long-term absence, very seriously. Around 960,000 workers in Britain were on sick leave for more than a month each year between October 2010 and September 2013. To address this issue The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are launching a scheme where workers will be referred for health assessments if they are sick for more than four weeks in an effort to address the issue. It is planned that the assessments will be carried out by occupational specialists who will draw up a plan and timetable to get the patient back to work quickly. The DWP believes the scheme will save employers £70 million a year and cut the time people spend off work by 20% to 40%.

While this is good news for employers – I know from many years of discussing HR and workforce management with a wide variety of businesses that many employers really don’t know the extent of sickness absence in their organisation. Of course if it is a long term absence someone is usually missed, but believe it or not, occasionally that’s not the case and employees  are paid long after they have left the company or even this earth!  Short term, unscheduled absence is, however, frequently missed or not captured and costs employers dear in lost productivity, overtime payments and employee engagement.

When I speak to employers about tracking their absence it always surprises me that they often think real-time capture of attendance raises unscheduled absence rates.  But if they think about it – what it actually reveals is that they were unaware how bad it was in the first place!

If you don’t know to what extent absence is affecting your business and managers aren’t able to spot absence trends amongst their employees, it makes it almost impossible for them to take steps to reduce it – after all you can’t manage what you don’t measure. So next time you notice one of your employees is not at their post – ask yourself this – if you knew the true cost of employee absence to your organisation – what would you do differently?

Here’s the popular list of the Top 10 Tips to Reduce Absence

Defining Stress in the Workplace

imagesCAUWCGLJBritain has the highest rate of people with mental health issues in the developed world claiming disability or out of work benefits a recent report has revealed. Georgia Graham, writing for the Daily Telegraph claims that British workers are among the most stressed in the world and employees unable to work because of mental health issues are costing the UK economy over £70 billion a year. The main cause of work-related mental health issues, according to the report, was unemployment and the inability to find work. This seems slightly at odds with the commonly held belief that overwork and the long hours culture in the UK is the main cause of stress and stress–related absence.

Burn-out of workers who are swamped by their workload is, of course, a problem as pointed out in the article by the BBC earlier this week about Welsh Ambulance Services. The article highlights the fact that almost three times as many staff are being signed off for stress as for a common cold or flu due to what employees feel is an excessive workload. However, I believe that employers should also be aware of the danger of under-employment of staff in the workplace which can also raise stress levels. Employees who feel undervalued and who are underemployed often fear the loss of their jobs and can feel stressed and anxious over a long period of time – increasing the risk of mental health problems.

Managers who are responsible for managing the workload of their team need to ensure they are able to spread workloads equitably and fairly and ensure employees are not compromising their mental health. Deploying the right people, with the right skills to cover the workload is vital. Whether it is an ambulance team trying to save lives and meet their targets, a retailer who needs to make sure there’s enough coverage to meet the demands of customers at any given time, or a manufacturer or distribution organisation that needs to ensure skilled workers are available to ensure production and delivery targets are met; having the right tools to plan and deploy staff to business demands and track and monitor, attendance, productivity and compliance will help managers support their staff and meet those organisational objectives.

Download the Forgotten Workforce Report

Download CIPD Absence Report 2013

Real increases in pay will only be delivered through increases in productivity

The recent CIPD Megatrends Report ‘Have we seen the end of the pay rise?’ concludes that businesses must be agile and aware of changing trends that may affect their business and be ready to respond to them and make them work in their favour in order to maintain an advantage over the competition.

The findings showed that since January 2009 average weekly earnings (without bonuses) have fallen by 8%. And the recession also saw a fall in labour productivity (the amount of value added/created per hour worked). Less productivity has meant less money available for wages. And it is not only the UK that is affected – many employees across Europe saw their pay frozen or cut during the recession.

Here’s how one manufacturing company has found a way to help improve productivity and control labour costs.

Based in Birmingham, Hozelock employs up to 600 people at its 28,000m² site. Hozelock manufactures and assembles equipment for garden watering, spraying and aquatics for the UK and international markets. The company identified the labour-intensive assembly area as the key area to focus. By introducing job costing software that works together with their manufacturing workforce management solution they gained visibility into how their operations perform against productivity goals and benchmarks.  Alan Murphy, Manufacturing Manager at Hozelock explains: “We introduced (Kronos) Activities part way through the season and immediately started to see that productivity had already improved about 2% over the previous year on our assembly lines. The closer scrutiny on performance at a local level, rather than globally, increased levels of focus on output and performance.

TWS20.600.productivity

Read the CIPD Megatrends Report ‘Have we seen the end of the pay rise?’

Read  Workforce Management – The final piece in the Hozelock jigsaw to become a world class manufacturer