Leadership

How Workforce Management Systems Can Impact The Employee Experience & Employee Safety

By Mike Morini, CEO of Workforce Software

While employees may interact with most HR systems once a month or just once a quarter, there is one HR system that employees are logging into multiple times each day: workforce management systems. These systems facilitate the interactions that matter most in the work-life of an employee.  Workers use this software to report how many hours they work, request time off, record what they are working on, and view and adjust their work schedules. Workforce management systems not only help companies manage time and attendance, absence, and scheduling more efficiently, but they are also a key touchpoint between a company and its employees. 

COVID-19 has brought many new complexities to managing the workforce. A recent survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs found that one in four workers in the United States have considered quitting their job due to safety concerns and other factors including flexibility, sick leave, and mental health support.  Hourly workers who cannot work from home clearly have the most fear and risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.  The survey also revealed that these workers feel less attached to their jobs and are more likely to consider leaving to search for safer work.  This means it’s more important than ever for employers to stay connected to their employees, keep them safe, and provide support and flexibility for them to do their best work during this time.  Workforce management systems can help companies accomplish this by improving the safety and experience of their employees in many ways.

Managers should be checking in with employees frequently during these difficult times.  One way to facilitate this is with an automated pulse survey.  If employees are coming back to work for the first time, a survey can be used to ask how they are feeling about returning to work.  Before employees start their shifts, employers can confirm that they have the protective equipment they need, and at the end of their shift employers can check in again to ask whether they felt safe.  These automated check-ins can help employees quickly raise concerns that managers can then follow up on in person. 

With illness and the fear of coming into work, it’s not a surprise that companies are seeing a huge rise in absenteeism during the pandemic.  Governments are passing and amending many laws to protect workers who need time off because they are sick or need to care for family members. These laws can vary widely on a state or even city level, adding even more complexity to employee management. A workforce management system can help companies ensure that these laws are applied correctly so administrators stay compliant, managers know what is allowed, and employees can take the time off that they need. 

Workforce management systems also provide tools to support last minute shift changes when emergencies arise.  Self-service shift-swaps allow employees to swap shifts with other employees on their own, providing flexibility that helps them better manage their day-to-day lives.  For employees who step in to cover for their co-workers, companies can implement incentives that are automatically applied to employees’ paychecks based on time worked.  Some of Workforce Software’s customers, for example, have been giving small bonuses or free lunch to employees who come in seven days in a row. Others apply temporary hazard pay premiums for employees who are working in situations with the greatest risk of exposure.  Many allow employees to donate time off balances to coworkers who don’t have enough time off to take the mandated 14-day quarantine after exposure to COVID-19.  These extra programs and benefits can be automated with a workforce management system and show employees that a company understands the risks they are taking by returning to work and values workers’ heroic contributions. 

Workforce management systems can also be used to help keep employees safe in this new COVID-19 world.  Health screenings have become very important and companies are looking for ways to automate this process.  Pre-shift health screenings can be incorporated into the shift check-in process as people prepare to come into work.  Employees can be prompted with a standard set of questions a few hours before their shift and the system can prevent them from checking in to work if they don’t pass the health screen.  If employees are exposed or diagnosed with COVID, contract tracing questionnaires and reports can be used to identify and notify others who have been in contact with the employee. 

When COVID hit, one of the top questions we received from customers at Workforce Software was how to make their clocking in and out process touchless. Hourly workers frequently use physical time clocks to check in and out of their shifts.  We are seeing companies move away from fingerprint biometrics to touchless options like proximity badge readers that can be swiped without touching the clock itself or mobile check ins. This helps eliminate another physical touch point and, therefore, another potential risk of exposure.

During this unprecedented time, leaders want to do what is best for employees to keep them safe and show them that they care about their well-being.  This is even more important and challenging for the workers who are on the front lines and going into work every day. A workforce management system can make it easier for managers and employees to stay connected and safe, and make their experience as positive as possible, as we navigate this new normal.

Mike Morini is the CEO of WorkForce Software and a 30+ year software veteran experienced in scaling enterprise software companies.  Mike has helped shape and guide multiple fast-growth companies in the cloud arena including previous CEO, President and COO positions at SAP, Aria Systems, OutlookSoft, InterWorld, and Verbind. Mike earned a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and splits his time between New York and Marina Del Rey, CA with his wife Constance and their dog Biggie Mo. Mike is passionate about taking care of our veterans and serves as a board member and advocate for Merging Vets and Players.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.