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May 11, 2017

Running with blinders on – reducing unintended bias in the workplace


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Sometimes lessons present themselves in unexpected places.

During a recent live BBC interview with international relations expert Professor Robert Kelly, on the possible impeachment of the South Korean president, two children suddenly burst into view.  Despite the interruption, Professor Kelly tries to continue with the interview, but it is clear that the news anchor has lost all interest in the subject and instead can’t help but focus on the source of the interruption.

Within hours, the clip went viral.

The video raises several questions about parenting styles, working with children, and perhaps most significantly, why everyone assumed the woman who followed the kids into the room and frantically rounded them up was the nanny?

This assumption, has everyone pointing fingers at one another and some commentators going so far as to suggest that we are all guilty of stereotyping. The family themselves aren’t too bothered, and when interviewed, en masse this time, they simply laughed it off. But it does serve as a stark reminder that no matter how open minded or non-judgemental we may feel, we do tend to categorize people.

In the workplace, this can lead to manager bias whereby a person is treated differently because of their age, race, ethnicity, or gender. This bias, or “blinder,” can be a huge challenge for organizations around the globe.

The question therefore is what measures can an organization take to ensure that the “blinders,” whether conscious or unconscious, are removed from workforce decisions?

The answer is technology. We all need to be using smart, common-sense technology to connect ‘people’ data to ‘numbers’ data and then basing decisions on this, rather than human instinct.

A simple example of this is to leverage a workforce management capability like occurrence tracking. Occurrence tracking gives managers, at their fingertips, objective data that removes subjectivity from tasks like performance reviews by including information like number of absences, how many times they helped their peers with shift trades and so forth.

Another example is scheduling. From within scheduling, managers can leverage capabilities to assign tasks by seniority, skill, and certification rather than selecting an employee because the supervisor is friends with them.

Additionally, providing employees with the self-service capability allows them to indicate their availability and therefore have a say in the schedule, rather than leaving it to a manager’s assumptions. Such assumptions can lead to bias if, for example, a manager decides that a student cannot do an early morning shift because of school.

With “blinders-free” data, managers can not only make decisions that are unbiased and based on fact rather than opinion, it also provides them with tangible evidence for any decisions. As the BBC video shows, we have a long way to go before we can completely and accurately say that bias no longer exists. But in the meantime, we can continue to use technology to progress and move toward a “blinder-free” workplace.

Read about some other trends and continue the conversation with us by requesting a demo.

April 28, 2017

National Living Wage


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This month the National Living Wage increased and will continue to do so until 2020 when it is projected to rise to at least £9 per hour, as detailed in the initial 2016 agreement.

This will result in a significant number of implications but the primary impact will be on hourly workers. Industries such as healthcare, residential care homes, and in particular manufacturing, will experience short- and long-term consequences from the annual incremental increase. In the short term, operating costs will rise adding to an organisations bottom line, while going forward the exponential cost of overtime and the potential of increased risks will serve to only further escalate operating costs.

Regardless of how you feel about it, the harsh reality is that organisations are struggling to manage the administrative burden of their large workforces in the light of persistent upheaval.

The substantial HR challenges the National Living Wage regulations present should not be underestimated. At SumTotal, through years of experience, we know that a Workforce Management (WFM) solution can and will provide your organisation with essential assistance.

How?

WFM software provides your organisation with the data and insights which in turn empower you to better manage your workforce.

Here are just some of the ways WFM helps:

  • Tracking time – letting you know if employees are punctual in completing their schedule, thereby ensuring you are not paying employees for time not worked.
  • Prevents “Buddy Punching” – our time clocks work on a personal identification system putting an end to friends/colleagues punching in for an absent employee.
  • Scheduling – the reporting system will provide the data to ensure you always have the optimum number of employees allocated, thereby reducing overtime costs. Additionally, “shift trading” means employees can now be assigned shifts based on availability and skill thereby reducing opportunities for human bias or error.

In short, a WFM solution can reduce operating costs, reduce payroll costs and provide invaluable assistance to workforce planning.

To learn more about SumTotal’s WFM solution or get a free demo please click here.

March 28, 2017

Participate in our Exciting New Research with Fosway Group!


Got a spare 20?

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I’m talking about minutes, because that’s all it takes to complete a Fosway and SumTotal survey, but the results will give us a wealth of data.

Data we will then use to paint the most current and accurate landscape of learning and talent management in organisations across EMEA.

Why is this information important to us?

Because we will use this invaluable material as we continue to design and create world class eLearning and HCM tools. Our thinking is, how can we know what you, the customer, wants unless you tell us? And here is your chance to do so. Your time to let us know what is working and what isn’t, what we need to change and how we can change.

And hey, if you haven’t got 20 – how about 5 or 10?

You don’t have to finish it in one sitting, you can return to the survey and resume where you left off – just don’t forget to save your data as you complete the form.

And I know how hectic your schedules are so why should you invest time answering our survey?

For loads of reasons, but primarily because this is a great opportunity to have your say, your voice heard, in a project run jointly by us and Fosway, Europe’s #1 learning analyst and who, for over 20 years, have provided unique insight into the world of corporate learning technology and innovation.

Be a part of the solution, the future.

When do you get the results?

The results will be officially announced by David Wilson, 16th May at our EMEA Perspectives event, but all those who participated in the survey will receive their own results report first.

To complete the survey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SSST17

December 19, 2013

Welcome to the SumTotal Blog!


No one wants to be defined as “capital.”  People are not widgets or transactions. Employees are not automatons and their knowledge, expertise and contributions within organizations are not transactional.  So why does the term “human capital” persist? It shouldn’t and we are on a mission to eradicate it.

Continue reading