Softworks Blog

How to create an effective Workforce Management strategy

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Tue, Jan 27, 2015

If your organisation is attempting to function without an effective workforce management strategy, they will struggle to achieve the level of productivity, cost effectiveness, flexibility and agility required to compete and adapt to today’s marketplace.

Your workforce management strategy needs to focus on all the activities that are required to
manage and sustain a productive, cost-effective and happy workforce. This means consistent policies and procedures around managing employee time and attendance, scheduling and absences.

Time and attendance Strategy

In today’s highly regulated global economy this is no easy task. Areas such as compliance now extend far beyond local, state, and national borders. The job of ensuring compliance and keeping up to date with legislation and regulations has become increasingly difficult and complex. As more and more organisations are discovering, failure to comply is very serious and can result in hefty fines and legal implications, along with a fall in employee
morale and bad publicity.

It is for these reasons you need to ensure that your organisation has an effective strategy in place for workforce management that includes the areas of; time and attendance tracking, staff scheduling, absence and leave management, regulatory and legislative compliance.

In order to develop an effective workforce management strategy you need to include the following six areas.

1. Standardisation of processes and policies.
2. Automation of time and attendance tracking.
3. Automation of employee scheduling function.
4. Review employee/manager self service options
5. Implementation of proactive absence management procedures.
6. Formalisation of flexible, remote and mobile working strategy.

Let's look at each in a bit more detail.

1. Standardisation of processes & policies

First and foremost you need to standardise your rules and policies. Consistency and transparency is key when it comes to managing employee time and attendance, scheduling and leave. Employees need to clearly understand the processes and policies behind procedures, and be confident that they are being applied fairly across the organisation. Furthermore external organisations need verifiable proof including auditable trails that employers are implementing policies in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

2. Automation of time & attendance tracking

I can’t imagine that there is any organisation out there that wants their managers spending their time managing time sheets to the detriment of managing their team. Particularly, in industries such as manufacturing, retail, healthcare and services. In these technology driven times, it makes no sense not to automate time and attendance tracking. By doing this, you free up departments such as HR, Finance and Operations for more strategic tasks and give your line managers the time they need to manage their team. Furthermore you improve data accuracy, reduce payroll errors and control labour costs. Automating time tracking has been proven time and time again to bring significant and tangible benefits to an organisation.

3. Automation of employee scheduling function

One person too many on a schedule is a costly mistake and in many cases can mean the difference between profit and loss. With automated scheduling you can pre-plan your schedules to optimise your cost revenue ratios. They enable supervisors and managers to accurately create schedules that align labour with forecasted demand, while adhering to company policies and regulatory compliance. Depending on the requirements of your business, you can choose from an out of the box, quick to install web based scheduling solution, to a bespoke real time scheduling & optimisation system.

4. Review employee/manager self service options

If you offer managers and employees self-service facilities you can increase productivity across your entire organisation. Employee self-service enables employees to enter their leave and scheduling requests and then route these requests to the appropriate person for approval. This both empowers employees and gives them greater control over their hours, holidays, shift swap requests etc. Giving employees more control over their working lives, is a proven method of attracting, retaining and motivating them. Furthermore automation reduces the pressure on line managers and improves employee relations as it is viewed as a fair and just system.

5. Implement proactive absence management procedures

Absenteeism is not something that is confined to a few sectors of the economy. It is one of the most persistent obstacles to productivity, profitability and competitiveness. It causes overtime, late deliveries, dissatisfied customers and a decline in employee morale amongst workers who are expected to cover for an absent employee. The indirect costs often exceed the direct cost of absenteeism. In order to manage absenteeism effectively, you need to take a proactive approach. By using an automated solution to manage absence you ensure that you have procedures that are led by senior management, implemented by line managers and monitored throughout the process so that action can be taken at the earliest opportunity. Automated proactive absence management systems provide a solution for the entire workforce by providing real time analysis, streamlining and standardising internal processes and policies and ensuring your organisation is compliant with all relevant regulations and legislation.

6. Formalisation of flexible, remote and mobile working strategy

Businesses today need a flexible and agile workforce, ready to scale up and down as appropriate to cater for the demands of the marketplace. By the same hand employees today are looking for a better work life balance. The so called 9 to 5 or eight hour working day originated out of necessity during the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the 1800s. So much has changed since then in terms of how, when and where we do business, it makes you wonder why so many organisations are holding onto a working day that was created over 200 years ago. To Generation Y-ers, a 9-5 shift can seem like a prison sentence! Flexible working brings many benefits to an organisation including better retention rates, reduced costs and improved productivity. 

An effective Workforce Management strategy will assist you to operate more agilely and make more informed decisions based on actual real time data. Organisations that utilise the latest advances in workforce management technology and implement the tools and processes that assist them to better align employee schedules, activities, and costs with business goals and objectives will be the most likely to experience considerable and measurable gains.

Topics: Time & Attendance, Labour Scheduling, Absenteeism, Business Processes

The True Cost of Employee Time and Attendance

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Tue, Nov 19, 2013

By Oliver Mitchell, ACA

‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat’ and there are many ways to record and track the cost of time. Whether it’s sitting in traffic, standing in a queue, waiting for a computer to load or simply sitting idly watching TV, almost every minute of your day has a cost that can be applied to it. It is all well and good accepting these unseen costs in your everyday tasks, it’s a given really, just part of your daily routine and most of us don’t give it a second thought. However, when it comes to the workplace, where employee’s get paid to be, it really should be a different story.

Of course, some employer’s don’t pay too much attention to the cost of time. Employees are hired for a specific role and work the hours agreed in their contract - for example 9 to 5. However so much has changed in how and when we want to work, more and more organisations are realising the benefits of measuring tasks completed rather than hours worked.  Employers record how employees spend their time throughout the day, recording individual tasks over set time intervals. These types of companies have a very good handle on the true cost of time and have excellent visibility of where efficiencies can be harnessed and real savings achieved on an on-going basis.


Profit and loss

Over the years, there have been countless studies conducted to try to apportion a cost to any particular activity in the workplace, and there have been multiple methodologies devised to track and record the cost of an activity. Suffice to say, that a great starting point for any company that really wants to get valuable information and reports in relation to their true cost of time, is to start tracking their employee’s time and activities. It doesn’t have to be an onerous or cumbersome task, nor does it have to be seen as an authoritarian approach, the introduction of timesheets and time recording has come on leaps and bounds since the early days of time tracking. The clock on the wall approach whilst still in place has evolved into detailed reporting and analysis, web clocking, absence management, flexi-time and even allowing employees to manage their day through self-service time and attendance management while at the same time promoting and supporting a work life balance. In a lot of cases it can often be seen as a plus point in today’s workplace and if implemented and communicated sufficiently, time and attendance systems can be of a huge benefit not only to the company but also to the individual employee who has more control over their working hours.

Not only will a modern Time & Attendance system provide managers with a real time view of their designated workforce, team calendars, rosters and much more. It will also allow for detailed and specific reporting over a huge variety of information at various levels from employee all the way to the MD and has been proven to drive efficiencies and save payroll costs by up to 5% of an organisations total labour cost. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s certainly more than one way to evaluate and assess the true cost of time, but for any company the best starting point should be gaining a true understanding of how their workforce – their biggest cost and biggest asset spends their time.

Topics: Time & Attendance, Workforce Solutions, Flexitime / Flexible Working Hours Arrangement, Work-Life Balance, Accountants, Performance, Business Processes

Meet Softworks at this month’s HR Technology Conferences USA

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Mon, Sep 30, 2013

Softworks are delighted to be demonstrating our latest release at the following HR Technology events in the USA. From the 7th to the 9th October we will be in Las Vegas at the HR Technology Conference and exposition. The HR Technology Conference & Exposition is the annual Town Meeting of approx. 6,000 HR professionals from around the globe who gather to share their expertise and challenges with all forms of technology for HR. The 2013 conference promises to be the biggest one to date, with every major industry analyst, consultant, blogger and vendor, as well as industry experts, thought leaders and senior HR executives from the world’s leading organisations, in attendance.

hrt logo 2l

The following week we will be in Santa Clara for the HR Technology Summit. The purpose of the summit if for attendees to get a chance to experience the latest technologies advancing HR and transforming business processes.

HR Technology Summit

Softworks are delighted to be a part of both events. Make sure to come and meet us if you are attending...

Topics: Conferences, Business Processes

Spreadsheet Errors Costing Businesses Billions - Time for Change?

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Wed, Jul 31, 2013

Spreadsheet errors are costing businesses billions, according to financial modelling company FIF9. In their eBook "The Dirty Dozen - 12 Modelling Horror Stories" they estimate that 88% of spreadsheets have some sort of error in them and that approximately 50% of spreadsheet models in use operationally in large businesses have material defects. They state that these mistakes are not just costly in terms of time and money - but also lead to damaged reputations, lost jobs and disrupted careers.

Spreadsheets resized 600

The dirty dozen spreadsheet horror stories include leading organisations such as Oxford University, MI5, The London 2012 Olympics, JP Morgan Chase and the US Federal Reserve. According to their eBook the biggest blunder came from Harvard University who had a spreadsheet error in their analysis of international Government debt to GDP ratios. The flawed research has been quoted as a basis for various European Government austerity measures, which are having profound impacts on millions of its citizens. They say that although there is some debate about the why’s and wherefores' of the economics, the discovery of the spreadsheet error has been well publicised and is highly embarrassing for the 2 eminent academics involved, Carmen Reinhart & Kenneth Rogoff.  You can download the full eBook via this link   

Spreadsheets undoubtedly have their place within businesses and can be used by many areas of the business, not just finance, for data computation and reporting.  However, there is no doubt that there are limitations and errors are common. Many of the companies that use our solutions migrated from "Excel systems" I use the word system loosely!

Before installing Softworks, their HR, time & attendance, holidays/vacations and even scheduling/rostering data was managed in Excel spreadsheets. Separate spreadsheets for each, often managed by different departments and/or personnel.  Of course, not surprisingly the data never seemed to match up perfectly between spreadsheets and errors were common. I think we can learn something from this ... and certainly in our experience and our space, change has meant savings in time, money, administration and errors.

Topics: Workforce Solutions, Business Processes, Operations