Post-pandemic HR: Mastering remote workforce management (WFM)

4 March 2021 - Reading time: 5 Minutes

HR

Recent economic uncertainty has caused thousands of job losses and exposed some people to non-standard work models for the first time. These unprecedented changes now show signs of becoming long-term.  Organisations are also suffering from a shortage of specialist skills – especially digital – opting to borrow contingent workers, build existing talent as well as buy (hiring permanent workers) to create the desired mix. Across Europe, about 1 in 5 employees is a contingent worker and this is expected to rise. 

The switch to mobile, remote and flexible working, combined with a mix of permanent and contingent talent, presents challenges to effective workforce management (WFM). From tracking time and attendance, measuring performance and productivity, ensuring accurate remuneration and aligning talent to objectives, modern WFM demands a smart, real-time solution. This blog outlines how HR teams can master HR through remote WFM and thrive in the ‘new normal’.

Smart workforce management

As the relationship between employer and worker has become more digitised, WFM must adapt, unlocking strategic value and mobile capability as well as scheduling functionality. Best-of-breed solutions integrate with existing Payroll & HR systems to automate workflows and provide a single source of truth for planning and analysis. This empowers managers to coordinate remote staffing resources, maximise productivity (ROI) and manage costs in real-time. It also ensures the data used to run payroll is compliant, accurate and timely - bearing in mind that personalised payroll is in demand and many workers may be on different contracts. With a real-time 360-degree view of the workforce, managers can proactively make decisions that meet workload demands whilst developing talent. 

Automated time, attendance and absence management

Physically reporting to work is obsolete for much of the current and emerging workforce but capturing time and attendance (T&A) and absence remains critical for capacity insight and accurate remuneration. Smart WFM builds a culture of accountability for all workers, whether permanent or contingent, using solutions such as digital fingerprints or clock-in software. This ensures accurate automatic payroll processing and identifies patterns or issues (under/over staffing or managing frequent absence, for example). Through real-time T&A, HR teams gain personnel insights that increase the accuracy of cost accounting, enable KPI monitoring and assess current and future personnel needs. 

Planning and task management

Many employers are missing out on the benefits of contracting flex workers because of the perceived time and complexity of legalities. There are now workforce planning solutions that make ‘cherry-picking’ the optimum blend of workers to align to fluid business goals simple, quick and compliant.  

Powerful workforce planning software gives employers real-time visibility, cost control and the confidence to make sound decisions. By viewing all available workers, mangers can draft every conceivable scenario including personnel costs. This proactive approach keeps budgets on track, removes the guesswork from planning and enables the right mix of building, borrowing and buying talent. Making changes becomes an agile and accurate process, giving organisations the competitive edge. Assigning tasks to the right people becomes highly strategic, taking into account each employee’s / contingent worker’s profile (qualifications, availability, experience, salary etc.). This also engages workers, develops talent and improves output / ROI.  Through data analysis, HR can evaluate a range of metrics such as hours worked by task, customer and order and all related costs.

 

Performance and collaboration 

Intelligent talent management software (or competency management) continually develops your permanent and contingent people throughout the employee lifecycle. As a result, relevant training and personalised talent development programmes reduce churn whilst helping employees be the best versions of themselves. It’s important to view contingent workers as potential long-term or permanent employees based on the overall value they bring, allowing you to build a continual stream of strong, loyal talent.

Remotely monitoring performance, goal setting and team collaboration requires an innovative and human approach, facilitated by social and mobile tools. Centralised dashboards clearly define goals (personal and business), achievements and accountability. Wherever workers are based, 24/7 access connects diverse teams and time is also monitored to measure productivity (rather than for ‘checking up’ purposes). For effective and efficient communication, moving to shared, open platforms instead of email nurtures a transparent and objective-led culture. Virtual collaboration and trust are key to keep teams engaged and productive. 

Summary

Remote working has been steadily growing across multiple industries/sectors, greatly accelerated by the pandemic. New models of working look set to stay, including the blend of building, buying and borrowing talent. 60% of European companies employ flex workers or are considering doing so in the future. This helps cover the whole talent spectrum by scaling up and down the workforce as necessary. In reinventing HCM, HR teams must embrace the rise of diverse and dispersed workforces.

Automated WFM solutions are the only way to efficiently manage all types of worker, from permanent employees to freelancers, aligning talent to tasks and business goals to continually improve performance. As a result, payroll and contractual compliance can be incredibly complex. An automated solution will track time and attendance, calculate remuneration and free up managers and Payroll & HR teams to fulfil strategic projects. Agile, remote WFM solutions serve the whole organisation through proactive planning and task management, on-going performance management and employee engagement. Connected and collaborative workforces will be critical for success in the new normal.

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