How Hard Are Your Elves Working Santa?

If you (or Santa) want to know more about tracking and managing workforce productivity you can find some useful free resources here Ho, Ho, Ho!

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How Mature Are You? Part 4

There are many organisations that have evolved through the first three phases of the workforce management maturity curve*, from seeing their workforce as an expense they now see them as a resource and a flexible asset.

Best-in-class organisations that have moved into the fourth phase, The Innovate Phase now view their workforce as an absolute competitive advantage. For them, their employees are their most critical asset who, when given the right tools, training and support enable these organisations to achieve great results that their customers’ value and their peers and competitors envy.

Workforce Maturity Curve 4Organisations in the Innovate phase are embracing Big Data initiatives to identify triggers that influence growth, profitability, brand reputation, and operational excellence, as well as organisational transparency and accountability.

In the Innovate phase, organisations incorporate labour metrics into their Big Data strategies, to transform their workforce into a network of individuals all working together to achieve a desired result.

The correlation of workforce data with operational measurements of inputs & outcomes can yield powerful insight into the impact of your people on business growth, brand perception and ultimately shareholder value. Big Data strategy will enable business innovation and continuous improvement. Lack of understanding of how to use analytics to improve the business is the biggest obstacle in achieving success with big data. Organisations must move the analysis from an IT function to a business operations function – combining measurements, analytics and business intelligence tools with visibility and controls for business leaders to understand and act on.

When workforce analytics is combined successfully with operational data, actionable information will lead to operational comparisons and adjustments. Initial tracking of labour metrics like absenteeism, turnover and overtime can evolve into industry-specific trends and analysis. Retail stores can see the impact in increased operating margins, profit per employee and a stronger brand reputation. Manufacturing and Contract Services organisations can achieve operational excellence lean labour principles. The Supply chain can manage in the moment in warehouses and distribution channels and Healthcare providers provide better patient care and outcomes.

When your workforce evolves from a cost of doing business into a competitive advantage, your organisation can make that leap from good to great!

If you have any questions or comments please post them and I will be happy to respond.

The workforce management maturity curve was first discussed in detail in my US Kronos colleagues’ blog It’s About Time

How Mature Are You? Part 3

Throughout this series of articles we have looked at how automation and planning can help your organisation streamline the common processes of scheduling and paying your workforce accurately and efficiently to keep costs down while improving service levels.

Workforce Management Maturity Curve - ExecuteThe third phase of workforce management maturity curve* is The Execute Phase. This phase is about ensuring all that planning you have done is carried through in the real world. It involves managing the workforce in real time and adapting to changing conditions quickly to maintain a high level of productivity.

Organisations that have evolved to the execute phase view their workforce as a flexible asset – a group of skilled workers with the tools they need to consistently produce for you and can adapt to different tasks or roles in real-time. At this stage, the workforce understands and executes key tactics that have a direct impact on key operational measurements: revenue, service, quality, responsiveness, throughput, productivity.

In every industry, your labour plans are impacted every day. Weather, illness, customers, equipment failure, materials, contracts, accidents, funding issues, large orders, even a successful campaign or promotion can impact plans for better or worse. How a manager reacts to these constantly changing conditions has a direct impact on your business.

Workforce management solutions have evolved to enable managers to ‘manage in the moment’, with technology that works in real time. Imagine your managers with mobile access through a tablet that understands where it is and presents detail about the labour in that area. Staffing management allow managers to see who is present at any given moment and which areas may be understaffed or overstaffed. Real-time adjustments can be made to address the areas that need help, while back-office adjustments to labour tracking, job costing and payroll systems happen automatically, without delays or errors. Labour activity tracking provides line managers with real-time visibility into what is going on in the business right now and ‘managing in the moment’ the things that make a real difference such as customer service, quality and labour utilisation to maximise output and productivity goals.

Here are a couple of questions for you:
• Are your employees and managers capable of being agile on the job?
• Do they have real-time viability into service levels, quality, output?
• Can they react to changing conditions and maintain high levels of productivity?

With cloud-based workforce management on demand organisations of any size can leverage and benefit from enterprise-class technology at a fraction of the cost and resource requirements.

In part four we will take a look at the next phase of workforce management maturity – Innovate. Don’t forget to sign up to my blog so you won’t miss it and if you have any questions or comments please post them and I will be happy to respond!

*The workforce management maturity curve was first discussed in detail in my US Kronos colleagues’ blog It’s About Time.

How Mature Are You? Part 2

So, you have automated your workforce management processes and are capturing absence and employees’ time automatically, providing data to your managers and supervisors and feeding data into your payroll and/or HR systems. What’s next?

Maturity Curve Phase 2 - PlanningThe second phase of workforce management maturity curve* is The Planning Phase.This phase is about aligning your labour with business demand by understanding what in your business drives the need for labour and matching that need with the pool of employees you have.

Once you have automated many of the manual processes that are obstacles for your workforce, the focus should turn to deploying the right person, in the right place at the right time – or in other words providing structure to the important business process of matching your people to demand. Organisations that are in the Planning phase see the value of their workforce as beyond an expense, and more of a resource – your people have particular skills that you won’t want to lose. Similar to an asset like equipment or materials, the workforce is an important component of the business with skills and capabilities that need to be deployed the right way in order to meet your business objective. Whilst at the same time ensuring the work is stimulating and engaging for the employee.

Mature organisations typically have workforce management solutions that provide accurate forecasts of what drives labour demand, standards that convert those forecasts to skills required in each area of the business, and schedule optimisation capabilities that take the ideal requirement and match it to the labour in the organisation. The solution will take into further consideration: preferences, availability, time worked and local legislation, providing complete visibility and control to where the workforce is deployed.

By eliminating manual scheduling processes organisations will reduce excess labour costs from over-scheduling and the quality or service level impacts of under-scheduling. Overtime and supplemental labour usage is reduced and balanced schedules greatly improve staffing. Moreover, employees are much happier and engaged when they feel that they are adding value to the business. The time and effort required in manual scheduling processes is eliminated, and schedules automatically adhere to rules, requests, skills, certifications, availability and experience. So here are a few questions for you:

• How does your workforce know when they are scheduled to work next?
• How is the right level of coverage for each shift or activity determined?
• Are employee shift requests and preferences taken into account when a schedule is created?
• Are there any seasonal or external influences that could impact demand on your business?

With cloud-based workforce management on demand, organisations of any size can now benefit from enterprise-class technology at a fraction of the cost and resource requirements.

In part three we will take a look at the next phase of workforce management maturity – Execute. Don’t forget to sign up to my blog so you won’t miss it and if you have any questions or comments please post them and I will be happy to respond.

*The workforce management maturity curve was first discussed in detail in my US Kronos colleagues’ blog It’s About Time.

How Mature Are You? Part 1

This is not a trick question. In the world of workforce management, where you are on the maturity curve* could mean the difference between being a high-performance organisation with a real competitive advantage or one that struggles to survive – particularly in these challenging economic times. High performing organisations look to be at the top of the workforce management maturity curve, but there are benefits to be gained wherever you are and it doesn’t matter what size organisation you are or what industry you operate in – if you want your workforce to be key to your success and bring true competitive advantage – you should want to know where you are.

Workforce Management Maturity Curve - Automate The first phase of workforce management maturity is the move from manual to automated. The Automate Phase focuses on the ability to streamline, simplify, and standardise necessary business processes such as attendance and absence management and/or calculating hours for payroll. As with all phases in workforce management maturity, the automate phase combines both process and technology improvements. And while the levels of complexity and maturity vary drastically from one organisation to the next, often there are additional automation steps organisations can take even if they have some level of workforce management already in place.

The value of its people increases as an organisation navigates the automate phase. Automation unburdens the workforce and allows their time and energy to be invested in higher value activities that will help your organisation achieve its strategic goals.

So here are a few questions for you:

• Do you know who is at work right now?
• Do you know who is working overtime?
• Who was late this-morning?
• Who was missing yesterday?

In my next post I will be introducing you to the next level – The Planning Phase – don’t forget to sign up to my blog so that you won’t miss it. And if you have any comments or questions it would be great to hear from you, I will be happy to respond.

*The workforce management maturity curve was first discussed in detail in my US Kronos colleagues’ blog It’s About Time.

Is Labour Productivity the #1 Factor for Global Competitiveness?

duidIt’s been my long-held belief that no matter what we automate in manufacturing, or how flexible and effective a supply chain we develop, it’s how we manage the people in the business that will make the difference between good and world class.

When it comes to managing the workforce, very few industries are under more pressure than manufacturing. With tremendous price competition from developing countries and a world where products can be replicated across the globe and transported with ease, manufactures need to look at every aspect of their operations for competitive advantage and productivity improvements. And that includes the processes around people management.

Between employees’ increasing desire to have flexible working, the operations’ requirements for specific skills and certifications, the work rules and regulations that limit what jobs can be worked, a rapidly ageing workforce and skills shortages, unscheduled absence, and the unpredictable personal issues that occur each day, it’s no wonder that production can be tough to start on time each day!

And it seems I’m not alone in my thinking that labour productivity holds the keys to improving global competitiveness in manufacturing. A recent survey conducted by IDC Manufacturing Insights shows that labour productivity ranked the highest among all 11 countries surveyed as the most important factor for achieving manufacturing success. Factors such as modern infrastructure, government support, and foreign direct investment ranked in varying degrees after labour productivity.

It’s an interesting survey, with both emerging nations and developed economies agreeing that labour productivity will be the main driver to success – with Brazil, Spain and Mexico feeling the most strongly about this.

But how will they achieve this – when skills shortages, ageing workforces, unmotivated employees and job insecurity get in the way?

A good start would be to consider a more strategic investment in workforce management technologies, focusing effort on people and people-related processes in order to understand where there’s waste and where there might be opportunities to improve. It’s true that many manufacturers have automated many HR functions already – but there’s still a long way to go in the areas of labour analytics, optimising schedules, effectively managing absence and talent acquisition and retention.

Take the payroll process for example. Image the payslip as a new product line and it would rank as one of the largest products in most companies. But as an expense, it’s rarely given the same level of operational scrutiny as a revenue-producing product. Yet, while companies are heavily focused on efficiency and effectiveness in their main value-add processes, what they don’t realise is that the mistakes made by producing a payslip inefficiently can inflate payroll costs, on average, 2.4%. How many manufacturers would ignore that level of inefficiency if they were shipping 2.4% more stock to customers than they were being paid for? They’d soon fix the process and eliminate the excess product – which is exactly what manufacturers need to do with inefficient payroll processes.

The survey respondents were also asked about one strategy that they would recommend for global competitiveness. The top recommendation was that manufacturing companies should keep existing facilities as is, and invest in workforce operational excellence methodologies, which will ultimately improve workforce productivity. There are numerous ways to do this. One change worth looking into is trying to optimise the way in which employee work schedules are created. Optimised scheduling technologies do a great job in creating automated schedules based on sales projections and product availability, employee availability, shift preferences, skills and certifications. Systems can optimise the allocation of resources and allow organisations to meet ever-changing capacity requirements at short notice, with the right number of the right employees at, most importantly, the optimum cost. The added benefit – and I’ve seen this countless times, is a more engaged workforce, increased morale and a reduction in employee turnover.

A manufacturer doesn’t have to possess the advantage of the lowest labour rate in the industry to remain competitive in a global market. A key thing though is to create a more productive process around people, machine and materials management, which will reduce unit costs and lead times beyond a competitor who brings the solitary advantage of low labour costs.

With many manufacturers now gaining control of basic HR functions, it’s time to consider a more strategic approach to workforce optimisation and to improve the performance of your key asset – your people.

This blog first appeared as a guest blog on the Manufacturing Business Technology Blog

Analysis paralysis absolutely not!

You wouldn’t be able to win a Formula One race without a lot of technical diagnostics and driver performance analysis before the race. Spain and Italy wouldn’t have reached the final of the UEFA Cup without having analysed player performance and game strategies that allowed them to beat opponents in the past. And Usain Bolt, the fastest runner in the world today would not hold his world record without having analysed his fitness and performance so that he would be at peak fitness and have a race strategy for his world-beating performances on the track.

I was recently asked to do an interview for an article in HR Director about how workforce data analytics in HR is now viewed as strategically important as any analysis done by the Finance Director.

The article mentions research that has shown organisations who integrate workforce data analytics into their analytics tools are three times more likely to achieve ‘best in class’ status than those who do not and that the top-performing organisations use data analytics five times more than lower-performing ones.

It is clear to me that without insight into how your workforce is performing and having the right tools to analyse the workforce data you collect, there is no way an organisation can improve their workforce management or put in place measurable workforce management strategies – whether it be reducing absence, increasing productivity or being able engage employees and motivate them to give their best performance for your organisation.

The HR team at LondonWaste, a customer of Kronos, also mentioned in the article, has used workforce analytics to analyse several years of HR data held in their system along with current data to enable them to analyse various aspects of workforce performance and believes this has helped their workforce to become a strategic asset in their organisation and given them a distinct competitive advantage.  In a recent video – Mark Beattie of LondonWaste can be seen discussing how workforce analytics has given them a deeper understanding and insight and driven business strategy.

So, it seems the proof is out there – for organisations who want to be the best, their employees are a key strategic asset and they will be using Workforce analytics to drive performance and business strategy.