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Tag Archives: Workforce

July 20, 2017

How do you do Workforce Management when you are a Small and Medium-sized Business?


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You might be tempted to think that all this talk about workforce management doesn’t apply to you because it really only benefits the big guys. And yes, it does present massive and significant benefits and savings for large organizations, and some workforce management systems are designed only for large enterprises and really don’t offer any scale or real value to smaller organizations.

But what might surprise you is that not all workforce management systems are the same; some are designed to offer smaller and mid-sized organizations the same advantages and benefits.

I’m talking about a workforce management model with modules for time and attendance, absence management and scheduling designed specifically for small and medium businesses with exactly the functionality needed—no more, no less. And it is to these models that smaller enterprises should look to when choosing a vendor. Models that not only work best for this size of organization, but also ones that offer a scalable deployment model ensuring that as your business grows and expands, the solution mirrors this; growing as you grow, building as you succeed.

Over my years in the industry, I’ve seen just how dramatically a workforce management system can reduce pain points like compliance or simplify many of the most time-consuming and labor-intensive HR tasks with very little managerial or administrative effort. And the financial rewards are huge; reportedly for every $1 invested in a workforce management solution, there is a return of up to $10.99.

I believe we are seeing not just employer expectations of talent, but talent and employee expectations of the workplace. And workforce management plays a crucial role in this which is why it is imperative that all organizations, irrespective of size, understand all aspects and benefits of this incredible tool.

Want more insight on the value and benefits of workforce management? Then start here.

June 19, 2017

How Absenteeism is Killing your Bottom Line


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Productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the United States, or roughly $1,685 per employee. Such figures are alarming and should be motivating for organizations to take measures or they’ll end up needing to impose damage control.

But what I’m finding, is that opportunities to address this issue are often overlooked; that not everyone working in HR is aware that a system can be put into place that will look at the problem and automatically minimize both the occurrence and the consequence of an absent employee.

Vacations, bad weather, sick kids, jury duty, military leave, and so many more legitimate reasons for missing work are fully justified. Although, if you’re not properly tracking and adhering to legislation and policies, compliance failure and your reputation are at stake.

While we all need to miss work at times, there are some offenders or policy abusers who disrupt productivity with their abrupt absences. You’ll experience the premium cost for yourself with the administrative burden, and likely decreased morale stemming from the potentially higher workloads of those who do make it to work.

For example, how do you treat the following?

  • Tardiness: does it count against an employee’s allowed absences?
  • An employee facing a difficult personal situation: is your policy flexible? If it is, what measures have you taken to ensure against claims of favoritism or discrimination if employees feel that certain employees are treated differently?
  • Managers with differing expectations: some might be very strict and stick to the letter of the law, while others might be seen as more relaxed or understanding. Like my colleague has written about before, managers often have unintentional bias. Do you have a process that can highlight those employees who take advantage of your organization, or employees who are habitually late? Do you reward those who follow the rules?

Tracking occurrences will pinpoint problems and even positive behaviors. By establishing patterns like tardiness or the habitual ‘long weekend’ offenders, you can use the insight to identify those involved, estimate losses due to their behavior and have automatic notifications or warnings in place.

Don’t settle for the silent bottom-line killer of accepting absenteeism and make tracking occurrences part of your workforce management strategy. Schedule a discovery call to see how tracking occurrences can lead to positive employee behavior and protect your earnings and output.

June 9, 2017

Attracting, Developing, and Retaining Talent in the Modern Workforce – Are You Ready?


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Changes in the world of work, evolving employee expectations, and advances in technology are creating a perfect storm that is transforming today’s workplace. Pitched against a backdrop of growing skills gaps, the pressure on organisations to rethink their talent approach – and systems – is intense.

The Fosway Group, in partnership with Skillsoft and SumTotal, recently undertook a research project designed with the single aim of shining a spotlight on the realities of the modern workforce. What we found is both compelling and illuminating. If you feel your HR, talent, and learning efforts are behind the curve when it comes to dealing with these challenges, then you’re not alone. Our research shows that only 44% of professionals feel their talent management strategy is “ready.”

After 20 years of analysing HR, talent, and learning data, it’s been fascinating to take a deeper look at the macro environment and the key factors affecting organisations today; most of which are completely outside our control. But if they aren’t acknowledged and adapted to, will leave organisations without the people and the skills needed to take them forward.

Some key findings from the research include:

  • In only 16% of cases is organisational culture not a barrier to when looking to improve talent management processes.
  • 86% find managers’ skills and attitudes an issue when meeting the expectations of the modern workforce.
  • In the most vulnerable areas of digital, soft skills, leadership, and management skills, less than 15% of respondents think they have all the skills they need to succeed today, never mind tomorrow.
  • Around 67% of our survey respondents say that workers now need to learn – and get up to speed – more quickly.
  • 44% report that employees are working more often using a mobile device as their primary tool.

There are so many buzz words swirling around our industry at the moment – gig economy, Millennials, skills shortages, war for talent…the list goes on and on. Behind the hype are some stark realities for HR, talent and learning professionals. We need to respond positively to really engage with the workers of today – and tomorrow.

To get your hands on this invaluable report, download your copy here.

May 31, 2017

Payroll Rocks the World! 10 Takeaways from APA Congress.


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I recently had the opportunity to attend the American Payroll Association (APA) Congress in Orlando, Florida. It had been a couple of years since I last attended. It was great to see and interact with many old colleagues, industry analysts, partners, customers, and enjoy four days of being the unabashed time & attendance geek I am.

Payroll Rocks the World was the theme of this year’s Congress and, in my opinion, was very appropriate as collecting time & attendance and paying your employees is the bedrock of an organization. At the end of the day, employees expect to have their time accurately recorded and paid correctly for the work they do. If it is not, then they have little-to-no motivation to be productive or even show up for work. So yeah, payroll is the rock star of any organization!

The agenda was chock-full of great presentations and keynote sessions.

So what did I take away from the Congress?

Lots.

So à la David Letterman, here is my Top 10 list of trends that all payroll professionals and organizations should have on their radar:

1.       Time & Attendance and Payroll are slow to the cloud.

Due to a number of factors, these business processes have been one of the slowest to make the move. However, this is changing as organizations start to realize the benefits of moving to the cloud, such as lower internal costs, access to the latest system releases, less dependency on IT and much more.

2.       Data security, data integration, and legislative changes are payroll’s biggest challenges.

Time and payroll data is highly sensitive by nature and payroll professionals need to ensure the security of the vendors and solutions that they select. With companies expanding through acquisitions and inheriting various systems, integrating these with the existing systems can be very complex. Payroll professionals today not only have to keep track of legislative changes in their home country, but also in every country that they do business. This is a daunting task for most organizations.

3.       Getting basic HR details in a global organization is hard.

“All I want is a Global Headcount Report!” was a common complaint heard many times in sessions or in speaking with attendees. With the challenges of growth through acquisition, country specific systems, and older platforms, getting basic data such as a global headcount or total wages and salaries report is no longer a simple task. Organizations are looking for one system to be the single source of record for this type of reporting. This is not a replacement for country specific payroll and HR, but rather a master system to handle consolidated reporting requirements.

4.       Fair labor Standards Act (FLSA) proposed changes for the salary threshold of exempt employees is still on hold.

A decision is expected towards late summer. However, there is a possibility that the Department of Labor may submit a new proposal with lower thresholds than in the original proposal. Stay tuned…

5.       Your workforce is changing.

The Millennial generation is not going to accept legacy and manual processes. In order to compete for top talent, organizations need to align their processes and systems to meet the challenges presented by this new generation.

6.       More and more organizations are starting to track location worked for mobile employees.

With increasing complexity in tax reporting for workforces that may work in multiple jurisdictions during the course of a year, more organizations are looking to improve their ability to track where both blue- and white-collar employees actually work.

7.       Standardize policies and systems.

Treat all employees fairly and equally. It is best to have the “system” enforce policies such as attendance. This removes the manager from the process and makes the system the “bad guy.”

8.       The rise of the contingent workforce.

Not only are we seeing more generations in the workforce now than ever before, but we are also seeing more contingent employees being embedded into daily activities. Employers are bringing in specific skill sets on a contingent base to fill gaps in their workforce either for a specific duration or on a project basis. The mix of full-time and contingent labor is causing challenges collecting time & attendance and ensuring that all are paid correctly.

9.       Comp Time for the private sector in the US may pass into legislation this year.

Comp Time allows an employee to bank overtime instead of having it paid out automatically. The legislation for the public sector in the US was passed a few years back, but it now looks like this will also become an option for the private sector. Assuming this does pass in the near future, it will add more tracking requirements for employers. Start planning now!

10.    Self-service is a must, especially for younger employees.

Self-service gives your employees the flexibility they need to better manage their work-life balance. For example, employers should avoid forcing employees to work overtime. Sometimes this is not avoidable but where it can be, a better approach is to put the overtime shifts out to bid allowing qualified and interested employees the opportunity to work rather than just forcing someone to. With the Millennial generation, self-service tools will be key to longer-term tenure.

If you are involved in managing time & attendance, scheduling and absence management or payroll for your organization, I highly encourage you to join the American Payroll Association or your country’s payroll organization such as the Canadian Payroll Association, Australian Payroll Association, South African Payroll Association, or The Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (UK).

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.

April 26, 2017

SumTotal Advances in Nucleus Research’s Workforce Management Value Matrix to Leader Quadrant


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“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein

It is with great joy and pride that we say SumTotal entered the Leader quadrant in the Nucleus WFM Value Matrix 2017; a feat that was in no small part accomplished by the fact that the new features in our SumTotal Talent Expansion Suite make us the first in the industry to bring workforce management, talent, learning, and recruitment all together into one platform.

And it is this that we are most proud of – because it is our goal to be of value to our customers and this news means we are doing this.

How?

Firstly, our SumTotal Workforce Management covers time and attendance, scheduling, absence, and leave management, giving customers the ability to conduct predictive analyses and develop workforce models, and individual managers can benefit from a holistic, real-time view of data from within their system.  Additionally, our SumTotal Core Platform provides a virtual system of record and combines SumTotal-originating data with data from any other system it integrates with to unify Workforce Management.

And how is this of value to you?

Well here’s just a sample.

  • Job/role-based scheduling which provides greater flexibility to accommodate employees’ schedules.
  • Occurrence tracking means employers can now track and auto-send warnings and communicate demerits to employees; it also helps eliminate supervisory biases, and even auto-generate messages prompted by positive events, too.
  • Our time and attendance solution can handle a high level of complexity in absence and leave management. Now an employer can get very detailed cost center position tracking, like say for example an airline manufacturer can look back and figure out who drilled any given rivet, and when.
  • Our time clocks, which cost approximately two-thirds the price of competitors’ devices, don’t force users to return to a kiosk to complete self-service actions such as absence requests.

Secondly, regardless which Workforce Management deployment model a customer chooses – SaaS-delivered via multi-tenant cloud; privately hosted in SumTotal, or on-premise, they all have access to our latest releases with new features and enhancements which, as indicated by Nucleus, is unique among vendors in this year’s WFM Value Matrix.

Because our suite is multi-tenant ready, it is possible to use the tenant model in either private cloud or on-premise to facilitate a distributed enterprise. Again, the value here is that an organization may want to have each of their business units/countries/subsidiaries in a single tenant, yet still share the same consolidated deployment. Now you can have a rapid deployment model as the initial tenant rollout, which can then be template and deployed to additional tenants delivering maximum administrative and control for each business unit/country.

And we aren’t finished. Our latest release includes even more upgrades including a new user portal, fully integrated shift trading capabilities, standardized archiving, and a major upgrade in our advanced reporting.

We will continue to strive to succeed and provide the best value to our customers. To learn more, please download Nucleus Report’s latest WFM Value Matrix.

April 3, 2017

Competency Models and Employee Development – A Perfect Match!


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As a manager, I was often asked by my direct reports for help – to tell what them what skills they needed to develop so they could be eligible for a promotion or what they need to do to become a top performer in their current role.

I usually encouraged them to work on those skills in which they were weak; but I realize now what would have been more valuable was if I had competency models – organized and structured paths that I could have used to help these employees both improve their performance and prepare for their next position.

For example, an employee who is currently a sales professional but wants to increase their performance and hopes to eventually become a sales manager, comes to you and asks for guidance. What advice would you give them?

Not sure?

That’s what competency models are for –  now all you have to do is  simply take a look at the competency models for each role – you’ll find that relationship building, product knowledge, strategic planning and decision making are among the competencies recommended for these positions.  Then think of the employee, who you know is really strong on product knowledge and relationship building,  and you offer coaching and feedback so they can develop their strategic planning and decision making skills.

They get the correct career guidance, and you, as the manager, can feel happy that you have provided the relevant L&D opportunities. A win-win.

But competency models aren’t just great for performance coaching, they help organizations unite core talent management functions: learning, performance, succession, and recruiting.  With a common language in place, competency models define what success looks like across all roles and functions.

As the desire for increased development and career mobility continues among employees, it makes good business sense to develop and implement competency models.

And here’s the good news for SumTotal customers – our latest enhancements to the SumTotal Talent Expansion® Suite include new competency capabilities which provide a self-service way to explore competencies for current and future jobs targeted as part of employee career plans. Additionally, our core and job-specific competencies make it easier than ever to identify skill gaps and build personal learning plans which will prepare for the role they want in the future.

With so many benefits to creating and implementing competency models, what is stopping you?

March 29, 2017

Unified SumTotal Suite Enables Digital Workforce to Develop, Lead, and Achieve


We just unveiled a range of new features and additions to our SumTotal Talent Expansion® Suite.

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What do these enhancements mean?

As well as supporting our mission to deliver beautiful technology, they mean we can stay true to our commitment to empower employees – allowing them to become more informed, engaged, and better able to take ownership of their own career paths.

How?

By giving you and your employees:

1.      Enhanced Career Planning and Job Matching capabilities.

Employees are a company’s single most important resource. With these enhancements, we’re introducing new capabilities which will enable employees to feel more engaged, while simultaneously making them their company’s biggest ambassador.

For instance, career maps are created which will identify the steps needed to be taken to progress and what, if any, gaps exist that could hinder such progression. We also added new dashboards, which provide at-a-glance competency metrics that highlight any areas that need developing in both the current position and any role targeted as part of their career path.

This enhancement is invaluable not only because it will help HR departments demonstrate their commitment to employee retention and progression, but it demonstrates it to their employees as well. This also feeds into the goal of encouraging internal mobility – employees will remain loyal if they can see a clear path for progression within and enabled by their organization.

2.      The full benefits of Mobility

With the new SumTotal Mobile App, managers and employees can learn, manage, and give feedback, anywhere at any time.  Accessible anytime is everything from a complete employee profile to compensation and performance details to the ability to provide continuous feedback to colleagues. What’s more, employees can now access content using Windows 10 on their laptop and Windows Surface devices either online or offline.
Gone are the days of yearly reviews. This is the era of mini-reviews.

This 24/7 accessibility means users- at every level- can easily request and provide feedback “in the moment” via a tablet, smartphone, or laptop, regardless of location or time. For managers, it means they have constant feedback at their fingertips on individuals – information that allows managers to have continuous conversations on both positive comments, but also improvements an employee can make. In real-time.  Talk about optimizing your workforce!

3.      A streamlined and unified Workforce Management (WFM) user experience

We’ve given our WFM a new appearance, making it easier to use with a single sign-on and a new unified look and feel. We’ve also made it easier to integrate daily shifts and schedule changes and given you a new single timeline for managing and completing tasks.

By giving everyone a single point to search for other employees, reports, or activities we are using technology to do what it does best – improve and increase efficiencies in workflow. This will then, hopefully, translate to a correlating improvement in the organization’s efficiencies and output. Making it a win-win for everyone.

Want to learn more? Turn here to review more of our enhancements.

November 8, 2016

Engaging a Dispersed Workforce: 3 Tips for Managers


Managing people comes with a special—but for me, worthwhile—set of challenges. And managing remote employees adds another layer of complexity. But through my experience leading staff spread across different locations, I’ve learned a few tips for keeping people engaged and connected that I wanted to share with you.

SumTotal Managing a Dispersed Workforce

1. Make it about more than the job.

We know employees (especially top performers) are engaged and driven by work that gives them a sense of accomplishment and lets them feel like they’re contributing to the goals of the organization in a meaningful way.  As an effective manager, you should be able to check the box for every member of your team on this one.

 

But what about the other stuff – the work that is not a ‘perfect fit’ for their current skills or job descriptions? It takes a conscious effort to create continuous development opportunities for any employee, but with remote workers, this becomes a crucial way to keep them engaged. Make an effort to offer your staff stretch projects that grow some of their less-advanced skills and help them connect across the organization through collaboration with colleagues they don’t typically work with. But, you won’t know which projects interest them unless you…

 

2. Pick up the phone (or turn on the webcam).

This one seems like a no-brainer, but in today’s digital world people aren’t doing it! I once had a job where a welcome email announcing me went out to the team, I emailed with my new boss about projects and introductions, but she never set aside time for a real conversation until the end of my second week on the job – I went 10 days on the job without ever speaking to my new manager. In today’s hyper-connected world of emails, texts and instant messaging we’re actually interpersonally disconnected.

 

As a manager, you can’t keep a current pulse on your employee’s development interests unless you’re having regular real-life conversations – don’t rely on last year’s performance process to be your only guidepost for keeping them engaged. Quick check-ins might work in an office environment where you’ll connect with a team member in person when you’re filling up coffee or in an afternoon meeting.  As remote workers, we might think we’re staying connected with daily messaging chats but it just isn’t the same as personal conversation. With a dispersed team, you need to make an effort to create virtual ‘water cooler moments’ to keep your team engaged – whether this means picking up the phone, or turning on video during your next team meeting.

 

3. As the manager, step aside (sometimes).

With a dispersed team, I find opportunities to remove myself from a project and explicitly ask my team members to collaborate and serve as a sounding board for each other on projects where they wouldn’t naturally connect in that way. In the right instances, removing the hierarchical component can really boost a contributor’s ownership and engagement with the project.

 

With a lack of physical workspace boundaries, high-performing remote employees can be easily susceptible to ‘brownout’: putting their heads down and plowing through work at all hours of the day because work is accessible. Silently, their level of dissatisfaction climbs and engagement plummets despite their work product staying on track. Creating informal project networks within your dispersed team is a terrific way to keep them engaged, and the teamwork often spills over into other projects or discussions.

 

Get tips for managing and motivating remote employees from other HR leaders in this Peer Insight.

 

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?

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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?