Cutting Edge Workforce Management Must Be Social, Mobile and Available in the Cloud

Simon MacphersonPlease accept my apologies for the quiet week last week but I had had a busy time attending our exciting annual KronosWorks event where Kronos customers from all geographies and industries (Retail, Manufacturing, Logistics, Healthcare and Services) come to exchange views and discover what’s new at the leading edge of workforce management. I got to meet up with friends, old and new, and it never ceases to amaze me how many of our international customers make it to the US. So today, I would like to share with you some key highlights.

In CEO Aron Ain’s keynote speech he talked passionately about how managing your workforce should be easier, how employees need to be interconnected, how to make technology simpler and more efficient and the way that Workforce Technology in the Cloud has become the fastest growing part of the business. And, most importantly, how we are committed to delivering workforce management innovation that works to ensure our customers continue to enjoy higher productivity, lower costs and competitive advantage.

Exciting new product enhancements were launched which got everyone talking. These were based on our key principles of delivering products with an intuitive interface that consumer products have led us to expect; making the relevant tools available on the mobile platforms we, as consumers, are so used to and continuing to provide guidance to our users to optimise the use of labour in their organisations.  Things such as data analytics enhancements that give organisations access to visualisation and exploration tools that make managing big labour data much easier. The fantastic new social networking platform  that allows organisations to use the power of social collaboration to help their business perform better. And workforce management technology  that makes it easier for employees to embrace more flexible working which can improve an organisation’s productivity, efficiency and agility including the sleek Intouch®  time clock which now incorporates new biometric technology and enhanced wifi capabilities for faster employee deployment.

Now, whilst I and our Kronos customers may well be very excited about the new innovative products at the show. I can’t forget that these developments have been driven by our customers and their need to manage their employees more efficiently and effectively. Businesses today have to be more agile to remain competitive. They have to retain their best employees and keep their workforce engaged and productive. They have to manage their people more effectively in order to control costs – things like reducing the cost of absence; reducing payroll errors or scheduling employers more effectively to improve productivity and reduce overtime helps organisations improve their bottom line. Organisations must make their people front and centre of their business and are missing an important opportunity to achieve their business objectives if they don’t.

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Biometric technology is cool – it’s official!

Biometric technology, that uses the body’s unique features as an identification technique, has been around for a while. And now it has been adopted by Apple, it looks set to become a pretty cool alternative to passwords.

Does this mean that Kronos has been using cool technology for many years now? Well I think so! We have been using biometric technology since before 2000 to help organisations protect employee data on self-service terminals and to combat fraudulent working time entries. This is often where employees ask colleagues to clock in for them so that they don’t get flagged as late or absent. Less common, but more importantly, it is used to make sure the person who is working is the trained and certified individual you expect. Once a biometric solution has been introduced self-service terminals can be used by employees to check holiday balances, flexitime hours worked, next shifts, they can also make holiday requests sign up or swap shifts in the safe knowledge all their data is protected. Obviously a by-product is the improved accuracy in tracking hours, attendance and the reduction in absence rates. All of which, can help improve employee engagement and has a positive impact on the bottom-line.

With biometrics now becoming more mainstream in mobile technology, I am sure there will be concerns, similar to those we face when customers seek to introduce biometric technology.  Kronos Touch ID technology does not store hard-copy fingerprint images. In fact, no images are stored at all with the Kronos system. Instead, the InTouch terminal equipped with the Touch ID option scans the employee’s finger then converts the fingerprint image into a mathematical representation, which it stores in an encrypted format. As a result, it’s practically impossible to reproduce the original image. A fact that greatly promotes the cause of employee privacy.

The knowledge of the incompatibility (on several levels) of Kronos finger-scanning technology with government and law enforcement IAFIS fingerprinting devices goes a long way toward calming employees’ privacy concerns. In fact, Kronos Touch ID fingerscanning technology uses a unique algorithm, resolution, and capture size. These things combine to make the encrypted fingerprint data stored in the Kronos system irresolvable by government IAFIS technology.

With biometric verification looking to become even more popular, the nightmare of forgotten passwords will be alleviated and, despite the reservations that have been aired recently in the press, I think it won’t be too long before biometrics become commonplace and will be used in many areas of our daily life.

The Evolution of Workforce Management

Much has changed since I became involved in the business of workforce management. From computerised time-clocks with printed start and stop times, sometime totals on a paper report; to sophisticated Employee Self Service capturing data related to attendance, activity, availability, preferences, holidays and more, that can be interrogated in real time over the web, mobile phones and tablets. All that together with solutions that forecast and model the labour requirement, place the right person in the right place at the right time and ensure optimum productivity across the whole organisation. – workforce management has definitely evolved.

 In a recent article I was able to contribute to, Scott Beagrie of Payroll World explores how the new-age workforce management solutions are helping to change the ‘Big Brother is Watching You’ image of the past and are now seen as a vital user-friendly and strategic, business solution.

Today’s workforce expects their business applications to be as easy to use as consumer applications like Google and Facebook and I am proud to say that Kronos is leading the way with our Next Generation of workforce management solutions. It allows managers to be away from their desks and still have full visibility of where labour is being utilised, what issues there may be and to obtain guidance in how to address those issues in order to make timely decisions to improve the performance of the business. Employees are able to bid for shifts, request time off and access a myriad of relevant apps from the inTouch terminal, their mobile devices or desktop.

It never ceases to amaze me that so many organisations have not yet addressed the issue of workforce efficiency – despite the fact that their employees are often their most expensive resource. At a basic level – you can’t manage what you can’t measure!

And what about the other end of the scale? What is the next evolutionary step organisations can take on their workforce management journey? What if an organisation already has a workforce management solution to manage attendance, absence forecasting and scheduling? What more can an organisation do to improve workforce efficiency?  Managing the huge amount of workforce data that organisations collect is a real challenge, Big Data applications such as Workforce Analytics is the next obvious area to address. Organisations will gain valuable insight into all this data that will allow them to focus on key performance indicators, identify best and poor practice and make even better business decisions that can positively impact their bottom line