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Tag Archives: workforce planning

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.

September 19, 2014

The Fear of Paid Time Off (FOPTO)


Is the fear of missing out (FOMO) becoming a workplace epidemic? If the newest research from the U.S. Travel Association is any indication, it just might be. According to the survey, 41% of American workers do not plan to use all their paid time off (PTO) in 2014, despite it being part of their compensation plan. Yet, the bulk of people surveyed (96%) recognize the importance of using PTO.

So, where’s the rub? Why are we opting out of leisurely paid time off with families and friends?

Doggy Vacation

Why do we have FOPTO?

As mentioned above, I think a lot of it comes down to our fear of missing out. Here are a few examples from the study that back my argument.

  • Too much work, not enough time.
    According to the study, 40% of American workers say the heavy workload awaiting them upon return to the office is a top challenge in taking paid time off. I understand. The pre-and post-vacation frenzy is not something to look forward to. In the past, I have found myself scrambling to get everything done in order to take a few days off. The stress of a big workload should not prevent us from taking the time off we deserve. Don’t just plan for a vacation, plan for your absence at work. Get up to speed on deliverables at activities a few weeks before you head out of town, not the day before. Constantly remind your colleagues and managers that you’re taking time off so you don’t have to worry about the last minute requests.
  • No one else can do it.
    An astonishing 35% of employees will not use their time off because they believe “nobody else can do the work while I’m away.” To me, this either comes down to one of two things: 1. poor planning and communication, or 2. knowledge and information hoarding. The “no one else can do it” excuse is easily avoidable. Managers and other team members should be able to step in and cover during times of need. Proactive planning, supported by good learning and training programs, will help fill the void and lift the burden off the people feeling bad about taking PTO.
  • Fear of being replaced.
    More one-fifth of the respondents said they didn’t want others to see them as “replaceable.” One could argue that the “fear of being replaced” is what started off the vicious cycle of not being able to take vacation. Out of sight, out of mind, isn’t necessarily a good thing. Good leadership and communication can help people overcome the anxiety of being replaceable.

Why you should take PTO:
It’s time to put our fears aside, PTO is vital to our overall well-being. Time away from the office gives you the chance to reflect, relax and recharge. People who take time off have increased focus, productivity, energy and happiness. It allows you to experience new things, gain new perspectives and reconnect with friends and family.

Plus, studies have shown that people who miss one year’s vacation have higher risk of heart disease.

It’s time we reclaim the work-life balance.

What do you think?

 

December 16, 2013

HBR Study: Organizations get huge payoff from HR Analytics


Workforce analytics are essential business tools to measure and improve workforce performance. In fact, companies with advanced workforce analytics in place are three times more likely to lead their competition in customer satisfaction, quality and productivity. Those are the take-home messages of recent Harvard Business Review sponsored by SumTotal (download report). Continue reading