In the age of Brexit, can workforce management tools fulfil their promise and drive British productivity?

Brexit; the mother of all evils, or the gateway to autonomy and prosperity? There is no doubt that this will be a topic debated for years to come with no exact answer. Indeed, the only certainty is the uncertainty. But can British businesses use this uncertainty as the spur to get back to basics – improving efficiency and effectiveness?

The labour workforce for any business is often their most expensive, invariably the most valuable asset. Management need a workforce plan in place to deliver on the business strategy, and consequently to drive profit and increase market share. Without a workforce what is business?

With GSK’s post-Brexit announcement of a £275m investment in a still “attractive” Britain, the argument is that now is the time to be proactive, to invest in the workforce, and to be ready for new doors to open. Employee productivity in British business is, more so than ever, under scrutiny.

The devil is of course in the detail. ‘What gets measured, gets done’ is the (mis) quote from management guru Peter Drucker. Technology should help facilitate and drive employee productivity. A recent survey completed by Capita HR Solutions found that UK businesses, on average, have eight different software packages in situ to record information on the workforce (Capita HR Solutions Customer Survey [2016]). The costs associated with this are myriad; technology maintenance, process inefficiency, technical support, administrative updates and service maintenance. The IT Service Catalogue is weighed down with too many options. Duplication is rife, and this latter, intangible cost is often overlooked. We’ve always done it this way. 

Workforce Management can consolidate much of this duplication, and provide some fundamentals to help drive employee productivity and manage costs. At this fundamental level, this looks like:

  • Visibility of employee availability to enable tight and effective rostering, and therefore enabling line managers to make better informed decisions by having real-time data available
  • Reduction of unplanned Overtime Payments
  • Ability to view hours used against hours forecasted 
  • Quick identification of top heavy or under-performing areas of the workforce
  • Automatic integration into Payroll and other 3rd party software packages
  • Empowerment to employees via self-servicing and home working options

Workforce Management is no longer just about providing time management data on staff – rosters, rotas, clocking in and out, when’s my break etc; the business is demanding more. In the UK, many different working practices form part of the day-to-day operations that affect millions of employees, such as;

  • Employee Flexi-time schemes
  • Time Off In Lieu (TOIL)
  • Annualised and Banked Hours
  • Zero Hour Contracts
  • Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)

Implementing, let alone managing, such practices is complex. Yet these working practices are now standard. Your Workforce Management solution can, or should, manage this complexity through a logical and intuitive process, preferably tailored to the unique nature of your business, and seamlessly capturing the extended workflow, such as payroll integration, bonus payments, shift premiums and fluctuating, average, holiday entitlements.

Workforce Management software should be seen as a business critical application. A tool that can be used throughout the business, from the shop floor requesting leave via mobile phones, through to an Executive team having instant, real-time visibility of employee headcount and productivity levels. In the age of HR expected to provide analytics to the business, workforce management software can provide genuinely actionable insights into your workforce and its productivity. In the post-Brexit era, a return to world class productivity is essential for the British industry to be competitive in a global economy.