It’s Time to Put Your People in Control
With vaccination programmes making good progress, nations gradually emerging from the cocoon of COVID-19 restrictions, and economies starting to bounce back, it is important that businesses take full advantage now of the lessons learned over recent months. Key among those lessons is the role of employee flexibility in driving employee experience, cost control, and productivity.
Necessity was the mother of invention during the pandemic, with all sectors wrestling with dramatic, near-overnight changes in restrictions and customer demand, and shifts in employee availability. Home working, additional training, new roles and responsibilities, and working at different locations have all whetted employee appetites for greater flexibility - as well as spotlighting performance opportunities for employers.
The flexible hybrid world of work is here, but the question for many employers is how can they make it work for their business?
The Benefits of Flexibility
From an employee perspective, the benefits of flexibility are quite obvious. The ability to integrate home and work commitments better, self-managing shifts and holidays, or selecting the times and locations in which they prefer to work, give employees the feeling of being valued and in control. From an Employer perspective, empowering employees to feel valued and in control will make them more engaged, productive and supportive leading to improved cost control, productivity and agility.
However, not all industry sectors can offer the same degrees of flexibility to all their people.
Many industries have experienced the benefits of home and hybrid working. Employees like me, working at home in the IT sector, are more productive and cost our employers less due to removing time and money wasted by long commutes. Likewise, retail and hospitality organisations have seen resource utilisation improvements through better alignments of colleagues with customer demand, and utilising hybrid workers to deliver customer sales and services support remotely.
However, many industries are unable to give all their employees the same degrees of flexibility. Manufacturers still need skilled employees on site to operate and maintain equipment, train operators need drivers and guards present, and contract service organisations need cleaners, caterers, and maintenance crews on-site.
In every organisation, some employee roles align with home and hybrid working, those working in administrative support roles and central operations positions for instance, but this brings into questions the issue of fairness and equality. Early in the pandemic some customers spoke about needing to implement new HR policies to balance the fairness of some employees continuing to work while others were furloughed, but still being paid.
Empowering Every Worker to Take Greater Control
While HR teams wrestle with the challenges of home and hybrid working viability and fairness, one thing that every organisation should do is empower ALL employees to take greater control of their work-life activity.
Mobile based self-service tools benefit employees and managers alike, whether they are salaried or hourly workers. By empowering employees with real-time visibility and control of key work-related tasks business can improve employee engagement and automate processes, resulting in higher retention, better customer services and greater productivity.
Through a mobile app, hourly employees can record their work preferences (the hours they are willing and available to work), swap-shifts with colleagues, and pick-up additional shifts. And additionally, every worker – hourly or salaried – can benefits from viewing balances (lieu time, holidays, sickness, overtime, etc.), booking holidays, and managing and approving their timecards.
Everyone benefits - employees feel valued and managers, HR, and payroll teams spend less time dealing with administrative tasks and answering employee queries.
One important consideration with respect to flexibility is clarifying its definition from an employee and employer perspectives. Very often these understandings can be different, leading to dissatisfaction on both sides. Flexibility from an employee perspective may mean having consistent and predictable work schedules, built around their availability. From an employer perspective, flexibility may mean having the ability to deploy staff where and when needed to meet customer demand. Common ground is likely to be found somewhere in the middle of two, but clear and open communication needs to be applied.
Whatever steps your business chooses to take in terms of giving greater flexibility and empowerment to your people, workforce management technology will play a critical role in helping you and your business simplifying processes and maximise the benefits you receive.