As modern workforce management (WFM) takes hold, employees are seeing changes in how they account for their time and how they access information on payroll, benefits, time off, company policies and improving their knowledge and skills. Over time they additionally will benefit from the deployment of new digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and predictive tools that help both them and their employer mitigate the challenges that historically have been inherent in managing work.
Workforce management software typically automates the forecasting and scheduling of work, absence management, time and attendance management and activity and task management. It also includes analytics that provide management with data about workforce performance. Those analyses are of great value; in our workforce management research 61 percent of organizations said that analytics is important for workforce management. In addition, new tools being added to WFM assist organizations in complying with legal requirements such as those in the Affordable Care Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and other workforce-related state and local regulations.
Workforce management has also gone mobile. The recent proliferation of mobile applications for workers and managers dovetails well with the interests and proclivities of the increasingly younger workforce. Almost half (45%) of the organizations participating in our research on this topic indicated that they intend to deploy mobile-enabled applications to improve productivity.
All organizations strive for workforce management that delivers the best possible business outcomes, and today’s systems are designed to support this goal. Modern workforce management software is no longer just tactical and administrative; these systems now must deliver improved employee engagement, productivity and retention as well as address strategic organizational goals such as greater profitability, customer satisfaction and organizational agility. For example, when a system ensures that the optimal number of resources of specific skill types are deployed in the right areas at the right times, an organization can be confident it is effectively and profitably satisfying customer flow and other business demands. It also means that employee interests, in terms both of their career progress and their quality of life, are accounted for in the scheduling and work allocation process.
Organizational agility can have many aspects. For example, decision-making in deploying workers to respond to business demands need not just be about relevant skills; with the right capabilities, it can also be about creating the best team and optimizing resource back-up whom in an array of circumstances.
Experience is making clear that younger workers are far more comfortable than their older peers collaborating in ways influenced by social technology — for example, through messaging, forums and open threaded dialogue on topics. Indeed, this generation of workers expects these capabilities. Thus, to retain new talent the onus increasingly is on employers to learn to interact with them accordingly; at the same time, these methods provide an opportunity to further improve workforce performance by interacting with and engaging workers in new ways. These include managers conducting “check-ins” to see what each employee’s concerns or needs might be, providing easy mechanisms for recognizing the achievements of one’s peers and assigning mentors during moments that matter such as the onboarding process.
Employees also increasingly are using communication channels in ways similar to what they are doing outside work to resolve issues — a capability that more than half of organizations (54%) in our research identified as important. Going forward, technologies such as robotic process automation to curate and manage data from multiple sources, smartphone-compatible chatbots to enable workers to get quick answers or quickly initiate and receive approval on a time-off request and AI-based tools for anticipating staffing needs will contribute to employee satisfaction while lowering costs.
While offering workers more intuitive tools and more personalized experiences, modern workforce management software also generates metrics that help optimize work processes and procedures and can be used in combination with data from talent management and other operational systems to achieve better engagement and productivity.
Ventana Research has over almost two decades conducted market research in a spectrum of related areas including workforce management, total compensation management, payroll, learning and business planning. Recently we have examined the expansion of workforce management through the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation. The findings of these research undertakings guide our comprehensive approach to this Ventana Research Value Index: Workforce Management 2019, which we will discuss in our next post.