How good is your vision?

Better VisibilityWhether you agree or disagree with the age old adage of “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”, the fact remains that having better visibility sure makes life easier.

Take driving for instance. If we didn’t have side windows, and relied only on the windscreen, at some stage we would inevitably get side-swiped by something we didn’t see or anticipate. The same goes for business too. We stand a much greater chance of meeting our business objectives if we are able to anticipate, visualise and react to the changing needs of our internal and external customers.

One of the most rewarding things about my role is meeting our customers and learning how our solutions are making a positive impact to their organisations. On almost every occasion, at some stage during our discussions, the customers will cite “greater visibility” as being one of the key benefits of their Kronos workforce management solution.

A brief story…..

On a recent visit to one of our UK hospitality customers I asked their operations manager what benefits Kronos is delivering. It was fantastic to hear him say the solution was delivering a 6% to 8% saving on labour costs as a result of improved labour demand forecasting and scheduling. However, he went on to say that the true benefit to him personally is the ‘visibility’ the solution delivers. Having detailed labour data at his fingertips means he can now have meaningful conversations with each of his general managers. He is able to discuss and review the impact that programmes and activities, such as staff training or additional labour budget allocations, are truly having on their sales performance.

When building a business case for a workforce management solution you need to focus on the tangible benefits, which in the main will be around cost reduction. However, once the solution is live it’s the intangible benefits that start to materialise and make a positive impact on the business and the individuals.

In the case of this particular customer their business is growing significantly, and so is their labour budget. But having visibility into key labour metrics is allowing them to maximise their return on labour budget and build an even stronger business. www.kronos.co.uk

Neil Pickering, Twitter: @ZamberP

 

Are You Feeling SAD? – Nearly 10 Million Work Days Lost Due To ‘Winter Blues’

SAD EmployeeAccording to a report by Epson, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) could affect almost 20% of office workers. And it appears employers are hit with a double whammy – not only do they have to suffer the cost to the business of employee absence  but employee motivation can plummet too leading to lower productivity amongst those staff who do make it into work. The results of the survey highlighted the ways in which the winter months impact UK office workers, with almost half of workers rarely or never seeing sunlight on the way to work during the winter months which can cause depression, low energy levels and fatigue. Add to this the usual winter flu’ bugs and other viruses that are prevalent at this time of the year and the cost of labour to businesses is at its highest.

How do you know when an employee is suffering from SAD? If you monitor and track employee absence with a workforce management solution it would be easy to identify employees who tend to have sick days at this time of the year and managers may notice a drop in productivity and engagement at work. The ‘winter blues’ may well be more serious than just feeling a bit low; it is possible that the immune system of sufferers can be compromised. But the good news is that there are things that can be done to help affected employees.  Here are 3 simple solutions that you may like to consider:

  1.  Improve lighting and perhaps supply special daylight lamps for employees who suffer from the disorder to use at work
  2. Make workspaces brighter and more colourful and introduce creative visuals into the workplace
  3. Encourage staff to get out into the fresh air at lunch and break- times  to make better use of daylight and any winter sun that may be around perhaps starting a ‘winter-walking’ group

So if the cost of absence makes you a little SAD and you want to promote health and well-being in the office this winter, why not try introducing these simple measures and see what happens?

Merry Christmas And Thank You

Simon MacphersonI would like to take the opportunity to wish all my blog readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Productive New Year and thank you for taking the time to read Staff Central.

I look forward to writing more about things workforce management related once I am back from my holiday break. If you have any ideas about interesting topics or would like to contribute a guest post I’d be happy to hear from you.

 

 

It’s Not Witchcraft – It’s The Power of Big Data

TWS21.600.witchcraftIs your organisation sweating and trembling at the thought of all that workforce data that you are collecting but doing nothing with? Or is it hiding under the covers believing that if you ignore it, it isn’t scary at all?

Organisations today are overwhelmed with data.  Perhaps Halloween is the perfect day to cast a spell that will give you a vision into a future when you will be able to take control of your workforce data. Imagine if you could use your workforce data to make meaningful business decisions to support your business strategy. What if you could make timely decisions around labour budget and productivity issues that would help boost performance, improve customer service and gain a competitive advantage whilst balancing the budget?

Never underestimate the power of your data. Best of breed organisations use a workforce management analytics tool to give their business leaders, managers and front-line supervisors the ability to analyse data in real-time. This enables them to make decisions that will have an immediate, positive impact on the business. If you don’t have the ability to make sense of things like meeting customer demand, waste, productivity and labour costs such as absence, lateness and the cost of overtime, then you cannot make those informed decisions. LondonWaste and PUMA use workforce analytics to help them gain real-time insight to drive growth and uncover opportunities to improve business performance. They have taken the scare-factor out of their BIG DATA and will sleep a little better tonight.

Customer Service – have we gone too far?

My colleague Andrew Busby recently attended a retail event that included some quite controversial topics of conversation around customer service. We all shop so it is quite interesting to see how retailers’ views are changing in the wake of omni-channel pressure.

“Trade abuse for availability”

I enjoyed a great evening earlier this week talking retail with some of the biggest and most well known names on the High Street. It was a lively and sometimes slightly controversial debate sprinkled with some hilarious exchanges as befits such an occasion. But one assertion gradually emerged from the discussions: customer service – have retailers gone too far in their offer for the convenience of the consumer?

The general acceptance around the table was that we are currently in an arms race with every brand on the High Street trying to steal a march on their rivals by differentiation through world class convenient customer service.

Price, product & availability have now got to be taken as assumed. However, customer experience, service delivery, online experience, in-store experience – all are at the forefront of retailers’ minds as they try to understand how to generate increased footfall, better conversion rates and therefore sales.

The consumer these days is so fickle, so savvy, so mobile and light of foot that traditional loyalty is a thing of the past. Whereas once before brand loyalty, especially to supermarkets, was a strong deciding factor in buying behaviour, today that doesn’t exist to nearly the same degree. What matters most is the experience. But this doesn’t have to be the same for every touch point. It varies according to the buying need whether it be luxury, essential or just browsing. Someone on a short lunch break wanting to grab a sandwich for lunch is typically going to be in a hurry and not interested in a personalised engagement at the checkout. They might be far happier to use the SSC and be out of the store as quickly as possible. On another occasion and perhaps for particular demographics, their trip to the supermarket is as much a social interaction as a necessity to buy the groceries, in which case an entirely different experience needs to be delivered.

But one thing shone through in all the debate: pretty much all the retailers are grappling with the same challenge. Different approaches to try to crack it but all in a similar place and all wondering whether, in trying to deliver a better offering to the customer, the arms race is in danger of causing irreparable damage? Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is click and collect and the impact this has on virtually all aspects of the retail operation: supply chain, stock availability, replenishment, store operations, returns, fulfilment – the list goes on. And in striving to offer better and better offerings to their customers will we see even more casualties on the High Street?  After all, all this customer service and convenience comes at a cost which isn’t necessarily passed onto the consumer. Think grocery home delivery; anyone making any money from that operation: No, didn’t think so.

Perhaps the time is rapidly approaching when, as the supermarkets said in the wake of the meat scandal, if you want cheap food don’t be surprised if it sometimes goes wrong (or words to that effect) so, the same maybe about to happen with online. If you want a ‘premium’ service sure, but you’re going to have to pay for it.

Or put it another way, which incidentally brought the house down the other evening: trade a little abuse for availability! We can’t have it both ways. Or can we?

Follow Andrew’s blog ‘Retail Storm’ here: http://andrewbusbyretailstorm.tumblr.com/