Simplifying & streamlining a complex world

Technology can – and does – help HR professionals fi nd success in the boardroom. James Kissell, marketing director at WFS: A WorkForce Software Company, outlines how this can occur through streamlining workforce management processes

IN MOST organisations, people are the biggest operating expense. And in an era in which companies are still striving to do more with less, reducing the cost of labour while increasing efficiencies can be a boon for smart HR directors, increasing their influence in the boardroom.

Today’s HR directors face more complexity than ever. Geographically dispersed teams, fly-in fly-out workers, remote team members, part-time and job-sharing arrangements; the list goes on. Keeping track of every employee, along with their award entitlements, shift preferences, availability, skills, leave requests, and more, can be a mammoth task. Creating rosters and managing time and attendance is no longer a job for manual spreadsheets.

The answer for most organisations is to automate and streamline workforce management. The technology to do this can deliver significant benefits, all of which can help increase the credibility of HR managers in the boardroom.

“Creating rosters and managing time and attendance is no longer a job for manual spreadsheets” - James Kissell


The following are three key workforce management challenges faced by businesses. 

1. Finding organisational efficiencies
An IBM study has shown that 96% of Australian CEOs find it difficult to pinpoint talents and skills across organisations. And 64% of Australian workers feel their whole skill set is not being fully exploited.

That demonstrates a challenge on both sides of the employment table that HR managers can help solve.

There is a general trend towards more part-time and casual workers, which creates further complexities for HR directors. However, with the right technology, HR directors can leverage the increased data available regarding these roles to make smarter, more productive decisions.

A 2014 Aberdeen Group study revealed that 60% of organisations need to improve workforce planning capabilities, 52% need better access to workforce data for decision-making, and 44% need more control of labour costs. This demonstrates that organisations are struggling to develop and retain an agile, flexible workforce, and to use data to make better decisions related to the talent pool. If they can achieve those two things, then labour costs are likely to dip in response.

By correlating data on workforce deployment and effectiveness, along with data on peak busy periods and skills required, businesses can more effectively roster employees to work when they’re most needed. This  can help get a handle on labour costs, as well as improving key capabilities such as customer service.

HR directors need a system that takes into account the overall cost of each shift based on rostered workers’ awards and other entitlements. It should also match employee skills and preferences to specific shifts, which can result in more engaged employees that deliver better customer service.

A workforce management solution that can identify the optimum mix of skills based on both the needs of the project or shift and the associated costs can dramatically reduce labour costs while improving organisational efficiency. It simply isn’t practical to try to achieve the same results with a manual system.

2. Delivering employee satisfaction
More than a quarter of employees say they have no say in their schedules, according to the 2015–2016 Workforce Management Trends Survey. This can have significant flow-on effects, starting with employee dissatisfaction.

Dissatisfied employees tend to take more unplanned leave, such as sick leave, meaning the business has to find a way to cover that person’s shifts. This can cause other employees to become disgruntled if they feel that they’re always being called on to cover for other people. If that cycle continues unabated, staff will begin to leave the organisation, creating a whole new raft of issues around recruiting and training new people.

By contrast, employees who feel a sense of control over their own lives, who can request and receive time off as well as enjoying their fair share of the most desirable shifts, are more likely to be loyal to the organisation in the long term.

Regardless of absenteeism, employees who feel their managers are regularly under-resourcing projects or shifts are also likely to feel unhappy, as a greater burden of the work falls to them.

Using an automated, data-driven workforce management system can prevent many of these problems from occurring by taking into account employee preferences and then finding ways to accommodate them.

A mobile system that lets employees communicate with each other to swap shifts when necessary adds to the flexibility offered the employee, and can be a strong contributor to employee satisfaction among younger or remotely based workers.

3. Managing risk and compliance
The 2015–2016 Workforce Management Trends Survey found that more than 50% of organisations list litigation as a top concern against modern awards, and only 20% of large companies use solutions to automate compliance. 

In Australia, companies need to comply with state and federal employment legislation to avoid the penalties related to violating wage and hour regulations.

While some companies have been called to task for underpaying employees, payroll errors can go the other way too, giving employees more than they’re entitled to and costing the company money. The same survey found that 50% of employers only find out about payroll errors when employees complain.

If employees quietly pocket the extra cash, businesses end up losing money without even realising it.

Companies also need to provide mandatory rest periods to workers, including a certain number of hours between shifts. Managing this effectively, particularly during especially busy periods, can be challenging. An automated system for rostering, and time and attendance monitoring, will make it impossible for employees to return to work until they have had their mandatory rest time. This serves the twin functions of managing compliance and reducing employee fatigue which can be a major source of errors and even injuries.

“Keeping track of every employee, along with their award entitlements, shift preferences, availability, skills, leave requests, and more, can be a mammoth task. Creating rosters and managing time and attendance is no longer a job for manual spreadsheets” - James Kissell

Finding success in the boardroom
These are just a few of the ways that automated workforce management software can help enable organisations to optimise their workforce deployment. To fi nd success in the boardroom, HR directors need to stop thinking in traditional terms such as of recruitment, engagement, and remuneration. Instead, they need to think in terms of increasing revenue, providing a return on investment, delivering customer satisfaction numbers, and protecting the organisation from non-compliance penalties.

Implementing workforce management software can deliver significant results. For example, it can save up to 10% on payroll costs. It can increase customer satisfaction scores by 6%. It can increase revenue per full-time equivalent employee by 4% and boost workforce utilisation capacity by an average of 9%.

By demonstrating numbers like these in the boardroom, HR directors can prove their strategic relevance and contribution to reducing costs and improving productivity.

WFS: A WorkForce Software Company (WFS Australia) is the leader in workforce management software for organisations with complex policies and compliance concerns. Through its EmpCenter® workforce management suite, WFS Australia enables organisations to fully automate time and attendance processes, effectively manage employee absences and leave, optimise staff scheduling, gain real-time visibility into labour costs and productivity, and mitigate the risks associated with employee fatigue. Hundreds of leading organisations rely on WFS Australia’s solutions to achieve strategic HR on a global basis.


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