· 4 min read · Features

Why now is the time to upgrade your workforce management technology


With all the challenges of COVID-19, is this really the time to invest in management technology?

On New Year’s Eve we finally waved goodbye to 2020. Though things remain tough, with the vaccination programme gearing up we can at least see a way forward.

Perhaps now we can think about a return to some kind of normality. But just what kind of normality will it be? The likelihood is that we’ll still be dealing with the immediate impacts of COVID-19 for much of the first half of 2021. But what of the longer-term impacts?

It is clear that there is no point waiting for things to return to the way they were. COVID-19 has fundamentally changed almost everything. We are now dealing with a new normal in just about every aspect of our personal and professional lives. We have for years seen the emergence of shopping online and homeworking as new trends.

The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated those trends until, within a matter of months, they are now the accepted way that things are done for a significant number of people. Both of those things are now part of the new normal, and both have been enabled by technology. Indeed, without technology – from online team meetings to streamed events – life and work would have been very much tougher.

The fact that technology is now so critical to so many aspects of our lives is the principal reason why now really is the best time to look again at your workforce management systems. It’s clear that we’re not going back to some pre-COVID-19 style of work and leisure.

We need to both evaluate where we are right now, and to look to the future. The pace of change will continue to accelerate. Those simply waiting for things to go back to the way they were will be left behind. The good news is that the technology is available right now to help HR not only manage this transition, but to get ahead of the game. That needs to start with a re-evaluation of your legacy workforce management technology.

Here are five reasons why Softworks think you should be carrying out that re-evaluation right now.

Health and safety

The mental and physical wellbeing of your employees were both major issues long before COVID-19. Once again, both of these aspects have been given even more prominence by the pandemic. Technology now gives a business the power to safely manage employees, ensuring they stay healthy and can continue to deliver the services your customers expect.

If they’ve been isolating, when will it be safe for them to return? Do they need a return to work interview – and by what date? These and dozens of other enquiries can be handled by a workforce management solution, ensuring that you and your employees have followed the right procedures, protecting them and the business.

Planning and optimisation

Management systems allow you to have access to the real time information you need to make the best decisions to ensure you have the right people in the right place at the right time. Whatever the conditions, you need to be able to make sure that your organisation works at its most efficient, and therefore profitable, level. Workforce management solutions can automate many of these processes, leaving you free to manage any real-time issues which arise.

Managing the new ways of working

Working in an office or from home, flexibility is the new normal. But one person’s flexibility is another’s logistical nightmare. The pandemic has tested systems to the limit, as many employees have had to juggle childcare and other family commitments while working remotely.

Though some of the pressure has eased, the trend towards a more flexible way of managing work and home life is set to stay. Indeed, some employers have found that this is a productive balance for business and employees alike. However, it still needs to be managed. Legally you need to know who is working what hours and where. By automating these processes you can do away with spreadsheets and manual processes, and yet still gain all the potential benefits flexible working brings.

Giving employees control

As with health and wellbeing, putting more control of their working lives into the hands of employees has also been an emerging trend. Once again the need to manage flexibly in a crisis has both accelerated this trend and shown just how vital technology can be in delivering solutions that work.

Self-service solutions and apps give the employee the opportunity to manage many aspects of their working lives, from scheduling their availability to booking leave, absences, and updating personal details. Once again this frees up HR to deal with other pressing day-to-day demands. Apps are an increasingly familiar technology, both innovative and easy to access. In most cases a short introduction to the App is all that’s needed to get employees up and running on it.

Planning for the future

The post-COVID world will almost certainly mean new priorities for many businesses: new policies and procedures to take account of new ways of working. You should look to find workforce management systems which have the flexibility to adapt to your own ways of working rather than the other way around.

By providing you with more accurate data on your workforce, you’ll have been in a better place to manage the key elements which deliver success for the business, whatever new priorities may emerge. There will also be immediate cost savings. At Softworks we’ve seen organisations achieve savings of five per cent of their payroll costs per year thanks to improvements in accuracy and the optimisation of rosters.

To say that COVID-19 has been a challenge is an understatement. It has fundamentally changed the way we work in ways which are set to remain the new normal. But technology has proved itself to be able to rise to the challenges, improving many, many aspects of employee management. The future may yet be more challenging still, but with the right employee management systems you can meet these challenges.

From new flexible working patterns to the empowerment of employees, such systems allow HR to manage change and look forward knowing they have the resilience to meet those changes whatever the future may look like. One thing is for certain, there is no going back. The new normal is here and now, and you need to be ready to make it work for you and your business.

Robert Doherty-Bigara is relationship manager UK at Softworks