Employee retention has been an intense focus for all businesses, but especially those dependent upon shift-based or deskless workers. This follows years of disruption that has impacted employee engagement and reset expectations about the role of work in people’s lives. Unless employers can meet these new expectations, they face an ongoing exodus of staff, which is causing an acute talent shortage across industries.
In the aftermath of COVID-19 and the subsequent changes in workforce operations, in this debate, we consider the impacts on employee engagement, wellbeing and retention as the world of work continues to evolve. Just as businesses are trying to bring plans back on track, employees are fatigued, disengaged and have ‘reset’ their expectations of work and the workplace. Crucially, many are either looking for job opportunities elsewhere or have moved on, at a time when talent and skills are increasingly in short supply. Now the focus needs to be upon the challenges of retaining talent in this new era of work, in which many will be working remotely in a hybrid framework. So how can organisations deliver a compelling employee experience that supports deskless workers, stimulates performance, productivity and delivers tangible business results?
Chris Brett, Head Of Hr/HRIS – LSL Property Services
Helen Molloy, Interim Head of HR Partnering, Global Operations – AMS
Christine Coleiro, Group Chief Human Resources Officer – Fimbank Plc
Nathan Miller, Managing Director, UK & Europe – Humanforce
Hattie Renshaw, Head of Talent – Sodexo
Mark Taylor, Group HR Director – Constellation Automotive Group
Pooja Bhatnagar, Chief of Staff – Finastra
Karen Bailey, Head of Competence Development – Volvo Group UK & Eire
WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR WORKFORCE IS DESKLESS AND ARE YOU EXPERIENCING AN ACUTE SHORTAGE OF TALENT AT PRESENT IN THIS AREA?
Chris Brett: I’d estimate that 45-to-50 percent of our business is either hybrid or remote working and a lot of that cohort is made up from people who work out in the community. Our business is estate agency and typically, people’s days are split between being in an office and on the road remotely. The demographic in estate agency is quite young and operating through the pandemic made people resourceful and more autonomous, although there was a period of adjustment that some found difficult. Over the last couple of years, it has been difficult to retain talent and we have needed to implement a lot of talent retention programmes, to offer additional development. HR’s profile has definitely increased, as people’s expectations of being in work have changed and they expect hybrid as standard.
Christine Coleiro: Like most tech firms, we are by design a hybrid working business, even before the pandemic. The biggest challenge in terms of talent shortage is definitely IT and specifically infosec and cybersecurity, as we’re working in highly-regulated environments. Malta’s a small island, so we have a really short supply of people and moving talent from mainland to an island is not as easy as it looks. We have a lot of competition from gaming companies who offer astronomical salaries when compared to local benchmarking and that’s adding to the talent problem.
Hattie Renshaw: The workforce that was predominantly office-based now works flexibly and remotely. However, around 80 percent of our frontline staff are onsite – be that in prisons, army barracks, schools, universities or corporate services clients offices. We’re definitely seeing a challenge from an internal talent mobility perspective, where some segments aren’t as attractive to our internal talent marketplace, particularly where we have salaried roles, based onsite full-time. In the hospitality sector, we’re definitely seeing a shortage of skills for our frontline roles.
Mark Taylor: We have a diverse business model and workforce and about 75 percent of our people are deskless – frontline operational and drivers – along with a handful of pure home working roles too. Everyone is experiencing talent challenges in several areas across the business, a case in point being automotive technicians, further compounded with the new technical complexity of electric vehicles. This talent is in high demand and Brexit impacted this significantly, as it stopped what was a strong transient workforce that used to come to and from mainland Europe. The second issue is HGV drivers – which is an ongoing and well-documented challenge – and the third is IT roles, particularly cybersecurity and engineering. Finally, the fourth is data skills which continue to be in high demand. We think very carefully about our sourcing approach and have developed academies to grow more of our own talent and, more broadly, we’re much more open to wider and more diverse talent pools than ever before. We also think carefully about our property strategy and where to locate or co-locate our operational sites to attract the right skills, and we’re more open to flexibility and personalisation generally now too. There isn’t a single answer.
Pooja Bhatnagar: Our business sits somewhere between tech and banking and we’re looking at our EVP. There’s much talk about flexibility and remote working and the feedback is that hybrid working has effected a sense of belonging that existed before and that connectivity needs to be addressed in the transition, to support belonging to a team, not necessarily because you go to the office every day. There are attrition challenges across the board, but I think especially in the tech and the frontline sales is where we are facing the most challenges.
Karen Bailey: There is a challenge in creating that consistency of culture across all the individual sites throughout our organisation, that gives flexibility to individuals, but also demonstrates that “this is what it means to work for Volvo, this is who we are as a culture.” Workforce planning for us is a challenge, as we move towards electric and traditional, go-to resources are in short supply, so we’ve turned to importing skills from our sites in other countries. But that’s not a long-term answer. We’ve hit a retirement bubble – which we knew was coming – and we had Brexit, which was somewhat of a surprise, although it gave to impetus to develop some new skills across the workforce. In terms of deskless workers, most of our people are site-based – they do have a location, but they’re in technical roles as opposed to just sitting in one place on a computer. They may be on a customer site or on the road if they are in sales or working and serving customers. The big struggle for us has been creating that consistency of culture across those multitude of individual sites, that provides parity.
Nathan Miller: The simple message is you’re not alone, the challenges in talent and skills are manifest across industries and add to that the single biggest shift in workforce operations in generations. Furthermore, what work means to people has changed, with 48 percent of fulltime workers now having some form of second income or side hustles and they are voting with their feet if employers refuse to provide the flexibility they expect. That’s why finding an employee value proposition solution that works with workforce mobilisation – not against it – is critical, especially in consideration of deskless workers. Here, technology and tech capability are essential across the business – as is learning management – with micro-learning for flexible workers cited as the number one gap by employees. This is especially pertinent in deskless environments, where they don’t feel that they’re served in terms of learning opportunities to the level of more office-based peers and that’s a key driver of increased attrition. Organisations must accept that digital native individuals are creating a fundamental demographic shift, which requires a new approach to the value proposition, where you differentiate not just on price, but on culture. When the first reports on the gig economy came out four years ago, they estimated around 500,000 people were in that sector and were multi workspace. Now that number is well over seven and quarter million (according to the 2023 report in January) and it’s only going one way. From an employer’s perspective, I do think we have to consider the needs and expectations of the tech native individuals as we have a demographic shift. So having a really well thought out, longer term employee value proposition where you differentiate not just on price but on culture and value, is imperative. I also concur, that generating a sense of belonging is very important.
Pooja Bhatnagar: We need to bust the myths on generational gaps – that Gen-Z wants to learn and Gen-X less so – actually, nobody wants to be in lag with redundant skills and, micro or not, learning and development is the great equaliser.
WHAT ARE THE KEY AREAS OF WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT WITHIN YOUR ORGANISATION AND HAS THIS EXPANDED TO INCLUDE WORKFORCE ANALYTICS TO INFORM ON EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT?
Chris Brett: The data we can see is very point-in-time and doesn’t really provide us with any trends or real analytics. So, there’s plenty of room for improvement and we’re a business in transition, changing the way we look at workforce management. Essential to that is a good view of data and analytics and will require a holistic approach towards enabling us to be more predictive, rather than reactive. As a business we’re changing the ways that we work and the way that we treat our people, as well as workforce management as a whole – I think to have the fundamentals right would really help us through the analytics and decision-making.
Christine Coleiro: We’re a small organisation and each office has even smaller teams – so in Malta we have 200 people, in Egypt and India 50 respectively. Of course, we have analytics and HR issues reports on the main areas such as attrition and absenteeism. We’re very flexible in general, but potentially the biggest challenge in HR analytics is the tool itself articulating what it measures. For us, it’s more the output – we’re very output-driven and the biggest challenge in HR analytics is agreeing what it is we are measuring and reporting on. For us, it’s not measuring how much people stay at the office, it’s more the output. The metrics we focus on are practically all KPIs.
Hattie Renshaw: We have analytics, but we need to understand what the insights are. We’re looking at the here-and-now and not capturing the skills capabilities that we need in the future and what the workforce needs to look like going forward. Data aside, HR must play a key role in supporting the business through the right conversations. That’s how we really come to know our workforce, their needs and aspirations and where they want to grow and develop into the right opportunity. That’s not necessarily scalable and doesn’t give us the overall analytics that we need going forward. We currently have various systems within our business and globally and we’re moving onto one platform.
Mark Taylor: In terms of workforce management, my view is that we’re a “house of brands”, not a “branded house” as our Group has tended to operate a devolved model meaning workforce management has sat locally within the businesses and divisions and we’ve never really taken an aggregate view. I mentioned data earlier and we’re doing more work to look at that holistically and bring it together through our IT system integrations and development. From a people perspective, we’ve loads of payroll systems and we’re in the process of implementing a new integrated HR system, T&A system and ERP system – all of which are designed to improve our workforce management and particularly task planning. Our challenge is how we effectively and strategically leverage and implement this all together as we currently have multiple systems and manual workarounds. We also have some talent movement across our various businesses, but again, we have an opportunity to potentially increase this to help our talent shortages and improve our employee retention. Overall, we are considering ‘joining up’ more than we have done in the past which should help our overall workforce management.
Pooja Bhatnagar: Once you have the data, it’s a case of making it work and forming the understanding of what it means, what’s the insight and how does it inform on decision-making. I think we are pushing the system a lot and trying to connect the dots and using that feedback to inform on employee engagement and EVP.
Nathan Miller: There is the danger of paralysis through analysis, which is normally caused by numerous, quite small pockets of data, being used to drive a physical change. I call it “the unit of activity” – what do I need to see on a regular basis – that is going to make me do one thing tomorrow that will drive the business or organisation forward? There is the general perspective, but equally there is the individual data – an individual who is disengaged, performance and output depleted – you need the warning signs and triggers to take restorative action before it’s too late. This individual detail all accumulates to the general levels of engagement and recruitment costs. Data is at its best on a live dashboard and raw data is of little use unless it is malleable and attributable – whether that’s Power BI, a data link manipulation, or a middleware layer – to have data talking to workforce costs in real-time is critical. Many businesses complain that their data output isn’t accurate, so they can’t use it for any reporting and that’s where testing data output robustly is so important.
IN WHAT WAYS CAN WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT REDUCE YOUR LABOUR COSTS AND HOW DO YOU REDUCE THE NEED FOR EXCESSIVE OVERTIME, WHILST REMAINING COMPLIANT?
Karen Bailey: The way that I would see workforce management helping our business is by reducing turnover, that’s the big opportunity for us. We would like to have a better-connected way of seeing where we have significant gaps, because wherever we have churn, it causes more churn. As soon as one person leaves, it causes further disruption, which is not ideal in a tight labour market.
Mark Taylor: We’ve always been a costconscious business which is the sign of a healthy business in my view, but we equally focus on investing in the right areas too. We’ve had to re-balance more recently due to the ever changing economic and market environments. For example, we invested strongly in purchasing Marshall Motor Group whilst also right sizing in some of our core BCA operational sites which has reduced our labour costs – all of which is about running the business effectively. The other area is to manage labour costs to drive efficiency continuously through significant automation and we have a whole RPA program where we’re deploying robots to do activity that we may not have thought to do previously. That’s reduced labour costs in some places but we’ve equally reinvested any potential savings back into more value-add customer-facing activity, to improve service and experience.
Nathan Miller: Traditional clocking on is history, but accurate time capture, using location-based geofencing, with multi-factor authentication, is very much relevant in hybrid and deskless settings. Case-in-point, one business completely removed its timecard duplication within their third-party agency market. They had a number of agencies and when one arrived on site, they spent the day going around a very large venue signing in three times and wasting time, now they just have to do that once, thanks to a biometric and additional multi-factor authentication system. It’s proving to be an efficient, cost-saving workforce management solution.
HOW DO YOU CURRENTLY ENSURE THAT THE RIGHT PEOPLE WITH THE RIGHT QUALIFICATIONS ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME?
Chris Brett: Many of our businesses are regulated by the FCA or the Institute of Surveyors and so a grip on who is suitably qualified and where and what levels do is essential. We’ve done quite a lot of work in terms of making sure the right people are in the right place. However, all of that has been a manual task, through a combination of spreadsheets, conversations, surveys, collecting the data through our core HR system. An example is, we’ve tried to mandate apprenticeships in certain areas where we know that their qualification is going to be required in the future by law. It’s something that’s going to become even more important to us in LSL, as the Government changes policy on housing and the way that the industry regulates it. We’ve tried to gain a better hand on who’s qualified where, what levels do they need to be qualified? Do they have the right qualification? Can we redeploy them into another area based on where they are qualified? However, all of that work has been a manual task. We’re using the apprenticeship levy to upskill people in those areas. We’ve also tried to mandate apprenticeships in certain areas where we know that their qualification is going to be required in the future by law – if you don’t do it now, you’ll probably need to do it in the future.
Pooja Bhatnagar: In the tech sector, skill is a kind of new currency and our whole strategy is being directed from a skills perspective. But it’s a journey that can take a few years and the foundation being laid right now needs to show existing employees and external talent, that we are prepared to provide the opportunity and platform to mobilise careers and keep skills sharp and relevant. We have just embarked on redoing our HR strategy, which is skills-based. We have in the last six months been on a skills journey and clearly it’s not something that you can do overnight. The foundation is being laid now in terms of the processes, which of course will evolve. But more important is the mindset, where we are saying that as an employer, we are here to provide opportunity and platform, but we’re not here to spoon feed you, that motivation is down to individual responsibility.
Hattie Renshaw: We are looking as we implement this new technology to very much help people understand where their skills are now, how they want to develop and grow their capabilities. This is about a breadth of career pathways that you could take with the particular skills and capabilities developed. It’s not live yet and as has been said, it’s a journey for us, but it’s something that our workforce wants and it supports a variety of roles that we have across our region, across the variety of segments that we have as an organisation. Our leadership team invests a lot of time talking about talent and their commitment is phenomenal. Three times a year, they have a talent forum and are committed to the development actions. We have greater visibility of our senior talent and that’s where we’re seeing great traction and now we must work on gaining greater visibility of our frontline colleagues.
Mark Taylor: It’s the agile challenge for me in terms of having the right skills in the right place at the right time and it’s the holy grail! I think there’s a number of things that we’re doing. As we’re relatively devolved a lot of this has sat with senior leadership teams and their HR business partners to work through, however, centrally we’ve more recently provided frameworks and tools to drive this thinking and better enable them. There is, however, a lot more we can and need to do in this area of skills management and thinking. We’ve had a specific focus on critical skills and roles and the need to ensure we’ve got succession and contingency plans in place. On a much broader basis, the other thing that we’ve just done is to reset our overall leadership expectations. I’m excited about these as the business has never really had them before; we’ve had Group values but never had a one set of leadership expectations or behaviours and underpinning skills. They’ll help us enable more movement and progression at all levels and help us generate a more consistent culture too.
Hattie Renshaw: One focus we have currently is talent sleepwalkers – people recognised to have potential – but because of the last couple of years, they’re exhausted. They’re almost saying, “just leave us alone for a bit!” That’s a challenge and important, because they were the right people in the right place, but they are not responsive to career steering and they are the talent that we’ve had in that pipeline for a while.
Pooja Bhatnagar: It’s a case of ownership and giving people the opportunity to put their careers back into perspective. If they’re continuing with their role and responsibilities, that doesn’t mean to say that they want to stay in this position forever. They can continue to be on the list for potential future roles, so let’s give them the breathing space and careful encouragement. It’s important too to not see this as a pool of resources, but as individuals.
IS THE ALURE OF LEADERSHIP DIMINISHING AS A CAREER MOTIVATOR?
Karen Bailey: I would say that people don’t see the role of becoming a manager and going up the career ladder as such an attractive career motivation. Most businesses struggle to encourage people to step forward into management roles, so we have to think how we make that career progression attractive. There’s less of a focus on helping visualise themselves in ten years’ time, it’s more about what makes people happy now. What we’re finding is that it’s less about money and that will require a more innovative approach to motivation. There needs to be a different approach to encourage people to step forward, to want to be supervisors, to want to take workshop controller roles and then go into deputy management, which is a core way that we gather talent in our business. That is making it very difficult because bringing people in externally to run one of our sites is very, very difficult because the level of technical knowledge that you require is a real challenge. Then you have to think about, how we make those more managerial jobs attractive.
WHAT EXTRA CHALLENGES DOES THIS PRESENT IN MANAGING FLEXIBLE AND DESKLESS WORKERS, IN TERMS OF RIGHT SKILLS AND STEPPING INTO MANAGERIAL LEVEL ROLES?
Nathan Miller: One key challenge working with the transient flexible worker base, is where you need to focus on the ability to attach those qualifications and skillsets to that individual worker’s profile, so that when they’re deploying through the time attendance or workforce management platform, they can select for their skills. This makes visible the available resource and their skillset, in order to fill any gaps. The next stage is how you then bridge that gap and link back to that micro-learning, to build on those skills in that flexible workforce. We’re also currently looking at how gamification could motivate those flexible workers, plus making wage access more flexible and not tied to a definitive pay day, so employees can gain access to some of their work money within the payrolled periods, linking that to some financial wellbeing support. This typifies a need for a change in culture, mindset and behaviour in the future, that is more in step with itinerant and deskless workforce. It’s about the capability to serve up that frequency of work acceptance and the ability to accept, reject, and swap shifts.
Mark Taylor: We regularly track our competitors from a business data perspective and consider where there are market gaps and where we’re potentially vulnerable. That insight comes from dayto-day processing and analysis and also general conversations and insight from leadership teams. Are we hugely sophisticated in using data analytics to spot holes and gaps? We’ve got opportunity in that space for sure. Are we using common-sense, in house knowledge and experience to assess efficiencies and opportunities? Yes. From an HR and people process perspective – we’ve done an awful lot of work around our people operating model and how well we operate and deliver in core people activity. We’ve asked leaders to benchmark where they think we are fairly against a maturity framework, and we’ve used that to drive where we should then focus from a process perspective. It’s not a one-sizefits-all approach and it’s not purely technology-led in anyway, shape or form. It’s a mix, equally using conversation and collaboration.
Pooja Bhatnagar: We are not there yet, but we are trying to put the processes in place. We have started running a monthly pulse (moving away from 6-monthly cadence) to allow continuous listening and that has allowed us to spot a few trends and we are taking a very targeted approach. In terms of the operating model, we are trying to move more towards self-service, which is a different approach & needs a mindset shift. I’m leading the global policy alignment with processes, where policies existed in one silo and processes existed in another and never really talked to each other. What that means is an effort to bring everything together cohesively and comprehensively. Whether it’s cost control, whether it’s very targeted engagement approaches, hiring or whatever it is. Another example is the focus on our leadership issues, which again came from some of our feedback surveys from top leadership. It’s not just the tech bit, we are also engaged in the strategy piece and the operating model, which we are working on,it’s a whole lot of recalibration of the processes.
HOW MUCH AUTONOMY AND FLEXIBILITY DOES YOUR DESKLESS WORKFORCE HAVE TO MANAGE THEIR ROTAS, SHIFTS AND COMMUNICATIONS? DO YOU FEEL THIS IS IMPROVING THEIR WORK-LIFE BALANCE AND EMPLOYEE WELLBEING AND IS IT MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE BUSINESS?
Karen Bailey: Certainly, on our sites, there’s very little flexibility – people work shift patterns and that is it – and the flexibility is in doing overtime or not, it’s up to them. Then there is our broader workforce, which can control their own timetables. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, because what we have discovered through our work on mental health and wellbeing is that a lot of people feel they must be “permanently on” if they’re working from home. It’s more like they are living in their office rather than their office being in their home. Long term, that’s quite damaging for mental health and wellbeing and will require a new perspective on time and resourcing and delegating our responsibilities better. Flexibility is great, but the potential to burn out presents itself. We discovered that people feel that throughout the evening they should be paying attention to emails pinging through or work coming in or people being available on Teams, because if you’ve got a mobile device of course Teams stays on all the time and you are always available according to your mobile device. We found that’s actually quite damaging for mental health and wellbeing and it’s that challenge in terms of how do you give flexibility, but then also take care of your workforce and make sure that they don’t feel that they have to be available on a Saturday morning, if somebody needs them or wants to send them an email that they have to reply straight away too. That is a whole process of education through the management structure to make sure that they’re aware of the impact of their own behaviour.
Chris Brett: It’s about balance and managing the expectation of both senior leaders and employees. We’re living in an ultra-contactable world and that needs a big education piece around the impact that managers can have on their own direct reports, within their own teams and how they themselves role model their own approach to work. Flexible working can leave no degree of separation between work and home life and people can find it hard to differentiate, especially when the pressure is on. It’s about managing the expectation of your senior leaders, perhaps to not give the impression that you’re required every hour of the day. We’re living in 2023 and through Teams, email, laptop and mobile devices you are contactable. It’s become more acceptable as a norm that there is no longer that binary work/life model. I think there is a big education piece around managers and the impact that they have on their own direct reports and teams by working late themselves, giving the impression that that’s what they’re expecting from their teams. If you are leading by example, is that setting the best example? It is leveraging that understanding that there is more to life than work.
Mark Taylor: I think the world of work has changed and arguably some of the guardrails and boundaries have been merged or lost between work and home life. From a flexibility point of view, I think we’ve got a number of onsite workers where flexibility is relatively limited as work is planned and diarised. Outside those workers, we have more professional, corporate workers who have more flexibility in when and how they work. It’s potentially double-edged – good flexibility but a higher risk of burnout due to the merging of boundaries I mentioned. From a burnout point of view, I think it boils down to three things for me – the first being leadership, their behaviour and the tone and expectations they set. Second, a big part of it then is also linked to leadership and is about prioritizing, planning and resource allocation – because ultimately, if people are burnt out, it’s because they have too much to do in too short a time period, not planning well enough, or they don’t have enough resource – or a combination of all these things. The third thing for me is to ensure we tactically provide all the core wellbeing tools and techniques that people can use to manage their work/life balance better as well – however – without the strategic bit – these tools and frameworks have limited impact. We’re probably been guilty as an HR function of focusing too much on the tactical tools and not on the strategic leadership, behaviours and ways of working.
Pooja Bhatnagar: This is very much down to leadership, the culture we are creating and role modeling is that We talk the talk, but we also walk the talk. We need to make it human, genuine and authentic. If we don’t, it remains values on a poster, which never turns into behaviours.
HOW DOES THIS PLAY OUT FOR GLOBAL FIRMS, TRYING TO CONTROL THE INCREASINGLY DISPARATE AND FLEXIBLE WORKFORCE? WHAT DOES A WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM NEED, TO BE ABLE TO ADAPT TO DEMAND-BASED ROTORS – TO UNDERSTAND CONSUMER DEMAND PEAKS AND TROUGHS AND ROSTERING – WHILE FACTORING IN WORKER PREFERENCES?
Nathan Miller: Of course, behaviours and culture are important, but as we move further from the conventions of time and motion in work, demands on a software solution grow. To support flexibility in its true sense, it has to be built into the platform, for people to accept or reject any work across multiple time zones in multiple languages. It needs to be everything to everyone, but the way we run that from a welfare perspective is to try and make the solution highly configurable, so that you can switch on and off when those work options, those requests and those notifications go through. Part of that is legislative – it’s a requirement in certain global districts that you don’t communicate outside of working hours with any form of obligation on the worker, for example. On a global stage, you need a multi-national, time-zoned tech provider with a remit across international borders. Definitely, it’s down to leadership, but software provision is critical and it has to provide absolute configurability, to make sure that it fits the multiple ways of working and that includes protecting people from burnout and supporting mental wellbeing. A key obligation is around that openness to integration, so that you can draw the appropriate data sources. We don’t want to try and become the source of that data for all aspects of someone’s business, because we have to suddenly become a whole ecosystem of software solutions. We can’t do that and nor do we want to. What we absolutely must do is make sure that the data that our system is capturing can be efficiently exported, outputted and paid, providing a host of tools that are being more widely adopted around management information augmentation. That middleware layer of power is where demand-based rostering and input-led rostering can start to evolve. If you’re not gaining that from your workforce management solution, push them to be more flexible.
DO YOU PRESENTLY STANDARDISE HOW YOU TRACK HOURS AT WORK TO CALCULATE PAY, SWAP SHIFTS AND MANAGER APPROVALS, TO ENSURE THAT YOUR WORKFORCE ISN’T UNDER OR OVERSTAFFED OR THAT YOU’RE PAYING PEOPLE INCORRECTLY?
Karen Bailey: We do, as far as our wholly owned population is set up. But our franchise population are paying themselves and so it is much more difficult to really understand what they are doing or ascertain how they’re working it. Several of them work with a manual payroll process, which is not ideal and are still working with manual clock cards, which is very challenging. Whereas, we tend to work more with biometric timecard management.
Chris Brett: In other departments we could do with something like this, but in other areas, the benefit would be a little bit diluted. We have some operational areas and maintenance hubs where we have, say 100-to-120 people working there. Those small pockets of our organisation certainly would benefit from something like that.
Nathan Miller: Let’s take somebody who wants to work in the front-of-house reception at the hotel in the morning, but might be working in the bar in the evening. If a system is configurable, they can work in those two different roles and, so long as they have those two skillsets at two different pay rates, this data can make sure it’s accurate for payroll and that the worker can see the detail in their pay slip, that they worked at two locations, at two different pay rates and have been paid correctly. It’s about being highly-configurable, so that the organisation can tailor it to their need and be compliant.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT LOOK LIKE, AS WE CONTINUE ALONG THE ROAD TO THIS NEW ERA?
Chris Brett: For us, it is a more holistic set up and everything talking to each other. We have a well-operated patchwork quilt of decent independent systems, by some really big names across the HR industry, but none of them work in synergy. The ideal future would be one provider, or as few as possible and synergy across the piece.
Karen Bailey: For us, it’s quite challenging because we’re a global organisation with global systems and we are just moving to a one-solution model – which misses out learning and development – and that’s going to continue to be a challenge. I think the more demanding it becomes as a business and as an industry, the more important it becomes to be able to understand your workforce and do something with the data. Whenever you purchase a system, you expect it to do everything, but often it just throws up new problems. Will it be better? Yes, of course it will, because its superseding an ancient system, but it won’t be the panacea. My quest is to find something that makes it easy for people to be able to access and of course is secure and compliant.
Hattie Renshaw: We’re moving to one global HR platform, but for me, there’s a difference between workforce planning and workforce management. We’ve talked about the more granular detail around tracking hours and that for me is very much “managing” the workforce. But I think my head is probably a little bit more in that workforce “planning” space. To help the business meet its strategic goals, we need to know what skills we need for the future and ask, how do we map towards that? How do we identify those that do want to reskill or repurpose the skills that they have? Crucially too, how do we make hospitality more enticing as a career potential and raise our employee brands?
Nathan Miller: Twenty years ago, we created software solutions for time and attendance, essential to clocking on. The changes have been lived experience for many in this debate and the differences between then and now are astonishing. Many of you are on journeys and it is incumbent on us software suppliers to not only mark the path, but to provide integrations that are smooth and frictionless. This is by no means a guarantee, in general terms, most tech implementation projects fail. But as we close the debate, let us return to the key focus, the deskless worker, which is in our view the future direction. How as employers you serve and support them in a mobile-friendly way, will be a key differentiator in the future, when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. We are seeing continuous changes in this space – a lot of amalgamation technically – and employers need to be synchronised with this rapidly changing and evolving component of skills resourcing.
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