How to future-proof your workplace

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As business leaders, our main mission is to deliver valuable products and services to meet the needs of our customers. That’s why we innovate on slicker websites, speedier deliveries, sparkling shopfloor refurbishments, and more—all in the hope that we make our customers’ experiences even more delightful, so that they return to us again and again, and perhaps even recommend us to a friend or two.

However, it’s important that this focus on customer investment doesn’t come at the cost of our staff. Despite presenting advanced, high-tech investments to potential customers, a surprising number of organizations still run their companies internally as if it were the 90s, with manual processes and legacy HR and payroll platforms.

This is risky business. After all, not only are these systems more prone to error and security breaches, they’re also outdated when compared to the consumer-grade applications workers use daily for social media, entertainment, banking and shopping. Unfortunately, businesses that fail to invest in the systems that support all their employees, including frontline/deskless workers and provide the capabilities and tools that deliver a better employee experience risk poorer employee morale, losses to competitors, and a knock-on impact on their customers.

With so much of our lives are managed online, it makes little sense to continue to accept these barriers to productivity and satisfaction. Upgrading operational systems and workforce management tech can help businesses remain competitive in 2023 and beyond.

Sandra Moran

Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at WorkForce Software.

A competitive advantage

Often, it isn’t that organizations don’t want to modernize their workforce technology. Often, they may feel locked into their current system due to the anticipated time and cost involved in replacing it.

On the surface, this may seem like an acceptable course of action. In reality, not only are workforce technologies becoming increasingly speedy and seamless to install, but those who invest in them see a massive return on investment, via reduced turnover, improvements in labor costs, and a happier and more productive workforce. In fact, research from Gartner shows organizations that use human-centric work models, where “employees are treated as people, not just resources”, are “3.2 times more likely to experience high intent to stay and 3.1 times more likely to see low levels of fatigue.”

A modern workforce management system can go as far as visibly improving staff wellbeing. For example, modern fatigue management systems can monitor hours worked, tasks performed, breaks taken, and time off scheduled to flag employees who may be at risk of burnout. They can then automatically send real-time notifications to managers and HR teams, to help them stay informed about potential employee wellness issues in a more efficient way (creating time for them to help the employee, rather than wasting hours sieving through data just to find out who needs their support).

It’s especially valuable for those managing frontline shift workers, who may pick up extra shifts to support financial pressures. And this real-time visibility is essential for managers to proactively address issues before they arrise, while improving the overall day-to-day employee experience for staff. A good company provides its leaders with the tools and resources they need to effectively engage and communicate with their teams, which is critical to engaging and retaining its workforce.

Improving the deskless experience

Speaking of those on the ‘frontline’, we must not forget the too often overlooked deskless workers. From those on the field, shop or factory floor to those in vital public services like the healthcare system, deskless workers make up around 80% of the global workforce—yet only receive around 1% of an average business’s technology spend.

Too often, deskless workers have limited interaction with their managers due to non-existent or outdated digital communication channels. This lack of digital communication channels is creating a divide. For example, 87% of employers believe that they help workers with personal circumstances that affect work schedules, but only 60% of employees agree. By investing in digital workforce management tools, employers can open the lines of communication with frontline staff, allowing line managers to stay connected and react to employee needs, no matter where they’re located or when they’re working,

While 45% of employees prefer to use a single mobile app for workplace communications, only 14% reported having access to an integrated mobile solution. By implementing modernized, digital HR solutions, deskless workers in particular can easily and securely contact their teams via personal devices. This helps them to stay connected to wider areas of the business, without HR teams being unnecessarily overwhelmed by creating and managing additional communications channels.  

Two-way communication ensures that not only are teams connected but also that workers are heard, which is especially important for frontline workers who often have far less facetime with their managers or office-based decision-makers and have first-hand information about more effective ways to work or barriers to desired outcomes. To avoid an ‘us and them’ culture, organizations should use technology to provide employee pulse checks or instant mobile surveys straight to employees’ phones, and in turn send real-time notifications to managers about potential employee satisfaction or even operational issues. The best way to find out how things could be improved is to ask the people who have to experience it every day.

The case for flexibility

By 2025, Millennials and Gen Z will make up almost two-thirds (64%) of the global workforce. These workers have different expectations from those of previous generations—namely, they want a voice in decisions, a sense of purpose, and a workplace that prioritizes their wellbeing. As digital natives, they also expect modern technology with state-of-the-art user interfaces, digitized communications, and easy access to the information and resources they need to be successful in their work.

Above all, these modern workers crave flexibility. They want to be able to control their schedule, swap shifts, and see their schedule to boost their work-life balance. But from union rules and compliance restrictions to manual processes and outdated technology, risks of expensive errors, noncompliance, and inefficiencies can prevent managers from implementing these changes. Fortunately, modern workforce technology can build total compliance into its scheduling software, ensuring that employees can both easily pick or swap shifts while guaranteeing that they meet company policy, union, and regulatory requirements.

Ultimately, business leaders need to treat their workers as well as they treat their customers. As staff shortages and economic instabilities carry on, advanced workforce technologies provide a business advantage by transforming the employee experience and boosting motivation, productivity, and performance. Businesses that harness digital solutions to engage and retain their workers will be the first to attract new hires and, as a result, drive better business and customer outcomes.

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Sandra Moran is Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at WorkForce Software.