The way businesses are run and managed is changing. Workforce management is no longer about simply automating your schedules. It’s a revolutionary way of operating that will transform your business. Getting it right is key to not only ensuring you future-proof your company but also gaining the edge on your competitors.
Having this edge on the competition is becoming increasingly important, especially in industries with flexible working, shift workers, a large percentage of part-time workers, and an ever changing workforce.
From hospitality and retail through to healthcare and transportation, there are changing expectations, not just from consumers but from your employees themselves. Combined with new technology, new ways of consuming, and the steady rise of AI and automation, it means the need to streamline the way you operate (and do to more of what you do but do it better) is stronger than ever.
It’s here where good workforce management takes centre stage. Smart businesses have realised, by making the employee experience a top priority, they will have happy employees who deliver a better service and turbocharge business success.
As workforce management software has evolved to meet the needs of a changing market, so has the role it plays. The best software will still automatically create smart schedules for you but it will also help you give more to your employees and, by doing this, your customers.
Here are the three key elements that have combined to shape the face of modern workforce management:
1. The workforce
Traditionally, workers in the industries where a workforce management solution is most commonly used have been those with little to no voice. ‘Blue collar’ workers, whether they are full time, part time or work flexible hours, have had huge expectations on them. From not knowing when they are working next and schedules only being posted three days before, through to their wants and needs being routinely disregarded, they have historically been the forgotten workforce.
But shifts in demographic and the rise of the Millennial worker have changed that. Employees have become more demanding and when they aren’t happy at work, they are quick to leave, so much so that retention is now a key target for a whole host of different businesses.
Millennial workers want open channels and instant communication, they want to feel valued and they want control over their lives. Millennials bring with them a new way of working. They are much more individualistic, they are willing to switch jobs frequently and they have different expectations. They have powered the gig economy and welcome the idea of working whenever and however they wish. Far from being a negative, as an employer this opens up the possibility of having a perfectly flexible workforce that’s there when your customers need them.
2. Changes in technology
Advances in technology have changed the way software operates. Thanks to cloud computing, technology is now affordable, scaleable, and always improving with regular updates.
With a cloud-based system you’ll have automatic updates to the latest version of the software with little to no down time. There’s no need to install updates or run them locally, it will all be taken care of for you, ensuring you stay up to speed, secure and always have access to the latest features being developed. We know sometimes organisations fear that not being in control of their updates might be risky, if features are launched or changed without their consent. What’s important to point out is that most modern SaaS platforms have proper feature flag systems which allows the customer to activate certain features when the time is right for them.
Advances in technology also brings better integrations and more robust security. Whether these are integrations of different workforce management modules like forecasting and payroll to sit alongside scheduling and time management or third-party integrations, they are much easier to achieve in a public cloud environment.
Furthermore, it’s simply not possible to utilise and schedule resources between regions and units on a solution that has a local database for each unit. When running large, flexible organisations this type of feature can save millions.
Thankfully, the days of being reliant on a legacy system or, even worse, a spreadsheet and a pen and paper are long gone.
3. Mobile first mindset
We live in a mobile world and we use mobile devices to control our lives. This, combined with the first two points, is allowing tedious and laborious administrative tasks to happen at the push of a button.
Nearly a quarter of 18-24 year olds spend more than 7 hours a day on their phones and the average person picks us their phone 280 times a day. For Millennials (who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025) and Gen Z, a mobile phone is an integral and essential part of their lives. And it’s this reason it should be integrated into their work lives.
Empowerment, efficiency and productivity of your workforce will all improve if you take a mobile-first approach to workforce management. If you’re still using a legacy system or have limited mobile functionality within your workforce management solution, you’re making your own life much more difficult and compounding this in your employees.
For a workforce management app to be successful, your employees have to find it as easy to use as they do their favourite apps. This means giving employees the ability to see when they are working next, to punch in, and to attest their time, in the easiest possible way.
Happy employees create happy customers but this is only part of the equation. To deliver on consumer expectations, you have to have the right people, in the right place, at the right time. This is what a cloud-based workforce management gives you.
It empowers your employees while, at the same time, giving you and your unit managers unprecedented control over running your business, allowing you to respond in real-time to what’s happening on any given day.
Download our free guide on strategic workforce management to discover more.