Global workforce needs are changing in surprising ways.
In the last few months, we have witnessed a tectonic shift in working models, which was expected to disrupt productivity in a big way. But the results were mixed, with many organizations, mid-level leaders, and frontline workers rising to the occasion. Industry analyst Josh Bersin went as far as to opine that “COVID-19 may be the best thing that ever happened to employee engagement” – employees now feel a sense of agency, empowerment, and focus as they work from home and take more ownership of their schedules/task flow.
It is essential for companies to listen to this changing tide and respond.
As your workforce seeks empowerment (for example, self-driven upskilling through online programs have spiked by 282%), you must chalk out a roadmap to meet their requirements and capitalize on this opportunity. There are three simple ways to achieve this.
1. Get the basics right with a hassle-free attendance process
Time & attendance was among the first operational basics to see an overhaul during the pandemic. Early on, 83% of HR leaders said that they would limit or sequence employee attendance at physical workspaces to contain the risk of contamination. There are two discrete trends here:
- Frontline employees returning to work in sectors like retail, F&B, on-field customer support, citizen services, etc. need a safe way to register their daily attendance. Any error would reflect in their wages, which is something companies cannot afford in a volatile economic climate.
- Desked employees need a seamless switch from on-premise attendance systems (like fingerprinting, biometrics, etc.) to a WFH-friendly app. You must also minimize the risk of attendance fraud in order to maintain WFH productivity.
A self-service attendance process through a mobile app offers a simple but effective solution.
It would allow employees to register attendance at a click, even if the app was offline. Later on, it would synchronize the data both for the employees’ visibility and their shift/team manager’s records. You could couple this with GPS to ensure that employees are actually at their place of work, be it at home or on-site.
2. Make expectations crystal clear in a period of widespread uncertainty
Vague targets and shifting goalposts were always a deterrent to workforce engagement.
How can employees be empowered to be productive if they don’t know what they are striving for?
Five years back, Gallup found that only about half of employees strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work. Not much has changed since then. A COVID-19-related survey confirmed that less than 50% of managers are effective at making work expectations explicit.
Now is not the time to be held back by such a foundational issue. Unclear data on targets, shifts, and productivity goals could lead to:
- Inefficient planning – employees don’t know how to best plan their remote workday.
- Dissatisfaction – employees cannot figure out their mounting pile of home chores due to lack of work schedule clarity.
- Poor outcomes – employees stay online and put in hours, but these aren’t aligned to any real business outcomes.
A mobile self-service application provides a complete, at-a-glance view of an employee’s work day, week, and month to facilitate self-driven planning. They can better orchestrate leave, shifts, and hourly tasks – benefitting themselves as well as your company.
During a period of crisis and general uncertainty on all fronts, employers that can “anchor” their workforce with a sense of clarity and visibility stand out.
3. Managers are employees too – empower them with data and tools
Managers are part of your employee base too, and critical ones at that.
They act as a bridge between organizational culture/senior management decisions and the frontline. By empowering them with the right set of tools and data, you generate a trickle-down effect that spreads across your entire workforce. However, research suggests that companies may not be listening to their managers’ voice during this critical time. Only 31% conduct surveys, and a meager 13% conduct focus groups.
This needs to change.
A self-service mobile application for managers can help to connect with employees better, actively looking for signals of low engagement, dissatisfaction, or missed opportunities. Right now, the majority of managers are handling a 75% remote workforce, which requires astute foresight and mapping capabilities. A data-powered mobile app gives them the tools to get it right.
When did an employee start their shift? Who is on the bench, and what is the best workforce mix? Are employees safe and on-location? A mobile app answers all of these questions and more, simplifying a manager’s daily decisions.
Another aspect of manager empowerment is giving them the tools to communicate. Less than 50% of managers are reported to display “exemplary communication skills,” a lot of which can be attributed to fragmented tools and communication channels.
So, your mobile app should also come with a built-in communication service that lets managers check in with employees without having to switch platforms.
The rise of the empowered employee was inevitable.
Trends such as new work, the gig economy, and 100% WFH were already pushing the reins towards the individual employee, even before the pandemic. It is now the employer’s job to equip their workforce adequately so they can gain from this opportunity in the best possible manner – even as we navigate these challenging times. Self-service is a small but critical piece of this much larger puzzle, one that can enable daily efficiencies, remove common bottlenecks, and empower your people to bring their best self to work every day.
At Herd HR, employee empowerment is a guiding principle for our innovation efforts. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know how we could help build a “Tap, Scroll, Swipe, Done.” self-service workflow for your employees.