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

 

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’.

The ‘Me, Me Generation’ Have Come Of Age

Gen YOver the last few weeks it’s been really interesting  observing the increasing amount of media coverage about generational differences in the workplace and how employers can keep their multi-generational workforce engaged and motivated.

Statistics suggest that 50 per cent of UK employees will be Millennials within a year. With the Millennials (also known as Gen Y – a generation that were born between the early 80’s and early 2000’s) now flooding the workforce and who will  soon be occupying more senior roles in businesses – it seems an appropriate time for businesses to take a closer look at how they will the meet their needs .  Think about this, the first Generation Y CEO (born after 1980) to lead a British FTSE company is expected to be appointed by 2016, according to Deloitte’s Upwardly Mobile report.

Millenials are often labelled as the ‘me, me’ generation who have an inflated sense of entitlement and believe there is nothing to learn from the older generation. And according to an article in IoD Connect, it seems, now we are getting to understand them better, they have been misunderstood and many people will have to change their views.  It appears Gen Y are actually a happy, ambitious and vocationally-minded workforce. Based on the finding of the City & Guilds organisation’s edition of its Career Happiness Index, Millennials are ‘positive, high-aiming, go-getters, who are eager to learn’ (as well as being ‘tech-savvy and hyper-connected’!), and if this is true I can’t see any organisation having an issue with a Gen Y workforce.

But as with all employees – how they are managed and treated by their employers can make the difference difference between having a productive fully engaged and motivated workforce or one that is disengaged and unproductive. So how can employers keep this high-flying generation engaged?

  • Positive Feedback – if your Millennial does something well –tell them.
  • Training/development – they are highly ambitious generation – help them achieve those ambitions and retain good talent.
  • Challenge them as individuals and teams – Set them tasks/projects that mean they have to solve problems or learn new skills.
  • Create a positive and inclusive environment – Millennials want (as we all do) to be happy at work – so help ensure that the workplace is a good environment to be in.

With two successful Gen Ys still living with us, I’m possibly risking family harmony blogging about this subject, here’s hoping not too much, as we might need looking after in our twilight years.

A review of the ‘The BIG Show’

Andrew Busby and David Bacon, Kronos for Retail at NRF 2013My colleagues David Bacon and Andrew Busby had the opportunity to attend NRF13 in New York and here is a brief insight into their experience from Andrew.

The National Retail Federation’s annual show otherwise known as Retail’s BIG Show held in New York between January 13th – 16th was the biggest show ever with over 26,000 people attending not just from the US but from all parts of the globe. Exhibitors included IBM, Microsoft (who had a Formula 1 car on their stand), SAP and of course Kronos. Our stand was impressive and attracted a lot of attention, especially the moustache party at the end of the first day. In return for each visitor to the stand wearing a moustache, Kronos donated $5 to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.

But the Expo wasn’t the only attraction for delegates, there was a full 3 day conference including keynote speeches from Kofi Annan and Donna Karan. Other sessions included a fascinating insight into the continuing austerity which will affect retailers who will have to adapt to meet the changing socio-economic trends which will emerge. For me, the session discovering examples of best in class retail from around the world was the most interesting and perhaps relevant to the Kronos value proposition for retailers. Examples from Burberry, Uniqlo and Harrods show how retailers are striving to connect with their customers and deliver not just great service but a great experience.

NRF 2013 was also an opportunity for David and I to meet not only the Kronos US team who made us feel very welcome, but also customers, prospects and partners including M&S, Boots, Arcadia, PCMS and Axium. And of course it was also an opportunity to take a bite out of the Big Apple. The sights and sounds of New York are an assault on the senses never to be forgotten: Times Square, Empire State Building, Central Park, Rockefeller Centre, 5th Avenue are all iconic landmarks, and seeing such a presence by the NYPD it was easy to imagine Cagney & Lacey appearing at any moment.  

But back to the business of the conference and some clear themes and trends in retail soon emerged.

  • Online and in particular mobile shopping will continue to increase at a dramatic rate
  • Customers now have the power and the retailers who embrace this will be those who survive
  • Omni-channel (some say hyper-channel) will become ubiquitous as part of this mobile online revolution. Some analysts likening this as being even more significant than the industrial revolution
  • Big data and Cloud will proliferate
  • Bricks & mortar stores will always remain but the in-store customer experience will be ever more critical to the success of the brand. For those who have ever visited Burberry in Regent’s Street or a Hollister store will appreciate the lengths leading retailers are going to in order to attract and retain customers

And all this underlined the fact that Workforce Management’s time has come; employee engagement, productivity, aligning labour cost to customer demand and delivering great customer experience are all high on the agenda for retailers. Retail’s BIG Show provided the inspiration and insight – the rest is down to us!

Retailers at the NRF Show are learning how ‘Managing in the Moment’ can deliver the best shopping experience for their customers

NRF - Kronos for Retail BannerThe 102nd National Retail Federation Annual is coming to a close today in New York – it has been attended by thousands of retailers from all over the globe and many of my colleagues from Kronos have been there to show them how our exciting and powerful workforce management tools Workforce Tablet™ and Workforce Analytics transform labour and sales data into meaningful information for managers on the move.

We have also been introducing visitors to our release of Task Management, developed in conjunction with our retail customers. These solutions completely change the way retailers manage their workforce providing the most complete Retail Workforce Management solution available.

To achieve real competitive advantage and brand loyalty, retailers must provide customers with the best possible shopping experience.

Our Workforce Tablet™ solution, operating on the widely adopted iPad®, provides managers with real-time data out in the store, enabling them to truly “Manage in the Moment”. With intuitive views of employee skills, availability, absence and holiday requests for instance, managers can make decisions in time to effect the performance of the business without leaving the sales floor.

Used in conjunction with Workforce Analytics managers have access to configurable views that highlight key performance indicators such as coverage, service level, sales, labour cost and productivity in an easy to understand dashboard, so they can focus on what really matters to ensure timely adjustments are made at department, store or regional level driving real competitive advantage, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

Kronos Stand 2 at NRF 2013Kronos is the first to build a task management solution on an existing, proven workforce management platform and our Workforce Task Management tool simplifies store execution by providing managers with a streamlined approach to create, approve, execute, and verify tasks. This will help drive productivity by streamlining communication between corporate and stores. It also increases sales and customer satisfaction by ensuring that tasks are completed on time and consistently across locations.

Our retail experts at the show include Andrew Busby and you can follow his tweets on Twitter @andrewbusby about #nrf13 and follow the show at @RetailBigShow.

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.

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.