Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

Zdnet.com published a piece this week discussing the findings of the recent report – Business Cloud: The State of Play Shifts Rapidly commissioned by Capgemini. The report was based on a survey of 460 global companies and gives new insights into Cloud adoption trends.

One of the more interesting findings was that decisions on Cloud uptake are more often than not being taken by non-IT decision-makers. This would indicate decisions regarding Cloud adoption are being driven by strategic business factors – far more so than technology, in fact the survey found that UK business units made the decision 44% of the time and third parties 11%. Often we see strategic business solutions being held back by an unfortunately over-stretched IT department. It is good to see that the Cloud is now seen as a perfectly acceptable and sensible way to deploy strategic business solutions.

The reason for this shift also becomes apparent when one reads that the companies in the survey cited the economic climate as a key reason for Cloud adoption, citing moving into emerging markets and territories (53%) and deploying new applications (23%) as the two main drivers.

According to the report human capital management is one of the major functional applications that are being moved to the Cloud. And with a Cloud services uptake of 76%, on average, globally, workforce management in the Cloud is certainly something many organisations should and will be adopting.

Moving workforce management functions; forecasting demand, scheduling to that demand, managing attendance, absence, activity and accurate pay, to the Cloud allows organisations to focus on improvements in cost control, productivity and margin. Organisation can focus on the workforce management functions, while a workforce management provider, like Kronos, ensures the application is running efficiently and cost-effectively in the Cloud.

Absence and Employee Disengagement – What’s the Connection?

GrapevineHR.com announced that the top FTSE 100 CEOs including those of BAE Systems, Barclays, United Utilities, Marks and Spencer and Whitbread are concerned that the UK is losing around £26billion in annual output due to disengaged staff!

They should be concerned – employee engagement is ultimately all about performance.  If individuals are achieving their highest potential, the organisation as a whole will benefit. Customers will get better service, waste is reduced, efficiency is improved and overall performance is enhanced.  The workforce really becomes a competitive advantage. This all sounds good, and it is.  But the opposite is also true, low employee engagement leads to poor performance, it costs real money and must be tackled. 

Absence and tardy attendance is often an identifier for those who are less committed to the company, and often indicates an underlying problem.  Every organisation should measure absence levels across the workforce so that unscheduled absences are identified and, plans are put in place to understand the root cause and address the issue thus raising employee engagement – across the entire workforce.  

Low employee engagement doesn’t just manifest itself in those who are regularly absent from work, it has an effect on everyone else.  Someone close to me works in the fashion design industry and has recently moved job.  This move was made due to the high level of absence at her previous workplace resulting in additional pressure and workload for those that were present.  Records were not kept and the unscheduled absence was largely taking place unnoticed and certainly unaddressed by management.  When this happens, and/or lateness and long breaks also appear to go unaddressed, it’s the 70 to 80% of diligent workers who become disengaged.  To avoid this situation, and to reduce churn of your good employees, you need to know the size of your unscheduled absence issue and ensure managers are equipped to tackle an issue.

Using a real time automated workforce management solution an organisation can achieve visibility and control, absence can be managed down and productivity and performance boosted.  Increasing employee engagement and raising performance is an important element in any organisational strategy.  To make a start, capture the data you need to address unscheduled absence, you will then be on the road to ensuring your workforce are your competitive advantage and the customer experience is great and consistent.

In a future Blog I will discuss how automated flexible scheduling , which ensures the system is fair for all, can also be a good tool to engage staff as flexible schedules can be set to reflect an individual’s lifestyle and preferences.

Does Absence make the Heart Grow Fonder?

Whilst over in Las Vegas at KronosWorks 2012, one of the things top of my exciting agenda was meetings with the press and analysts who were there to gain an insight into how Kronos provides our customers with such value and competitive advantage. I had the pleasure of showing Lizzy Anderson, section editor of Management Today, around the conference and was subsequently delighted that Lizzy agreed to publish my top ten tips for dealing with Absence in Management Today.

Absence is a key issue that customers often ask us to help with and it certainly doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, it actually costs real money, creates a lot of pressure on other members of the workforce as well as significantly, and negatively, affecting both productivity and employee engagement. Patterns of behaviour like extending the weekends with sick days, arriving late or leaving early and taking long breaks cannot be easily monitored or tracked manually and are often ignored by busy managers This makes it very difficult to manage absence across the workforce consistently. 

My top 10 tips that can help organisations manage their absence can be found in Management Today here.

Absence rate has fallen – But is this year’s CIPD Absence Report all good news?

Considering the state of the Economy, and the fact that people are worried about job security and keeping a roof over their heads it is hardly surprising that according to the annual CIPD Absence Report, absence has come down from 7.7 days per year to 6.8 days whilst stress has been given as the most common cause of long-term absence for the second year running, and has in fact risen.

Whilst a decrease in absence overall should be considered a positive thing – it would appear that ‘presenteeism’ – coming into work ill – is on the rise. Which begs the question – how productive are those employees who do show up for work when they should be recovering from illness? How does ‘presenteeism’ affect the time it takes for them to recover? And how does it affect work colleagues who then have to take time off if the illness is contagious. Whichever way you look at it – ‘presenteeism’ can have a knock-on effect with on productivity and employee morale.

To me it is obvious that a workforce management solution will help manage absence fairly and equitably and can easily pick up on absence patterns amongst employees that are cause for concern – either as an indicator of a stressed-out employee or perhaps someone who is genuinely ill and needs support from an organisation. It will also help managers identify employees whose absence is not attributable to illness – for example it will flag employees who are persistently late back from lunch, or who take Monday’s or Friday’s off to extend their weekend break so that appropriate measures can be taken.  In this way organisations can address’ the issues that need addressing and, by doing this fairly and consistently, increases employee engagement.

So is it good news, I am not so sure? I urge organisations everywhere to take a close look at their absence trends – make sure it can be measured and monitored accurately and ensure they take action to support their managers to enable them to take appropriate action fairly, consistantly and in a timely fashion.