Use it or Lose it

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August 3, 2017

Use it or Lose it: Let’s Talk about Workforce Engagement in Manufacturing

  • What if you had at least ten opportunities each day where your employees were 100% engaged?
  • What would you do with that time?
  • What would you have to say?

I’ve spent the better part of the last 25 years in HR and the HR technology industry. This includes time as a practitioner, software developer, business owner, and sales consultant. My primary areas of expertise are Talent Management and Recruitment, but all that changed recently. I now run a part of the Workforce Management business for Infor. Before this unique opportunity presented itself, I believed that the Talent Management application was the very best place to engage and motivate employees. This was the area where companies have the greatest opportunity to foster change and productivity.

Man, was I wrong.

Think about this. What system in your enterprise do employees interact with every day, and in most cases, multiple times per day? It sure isn’t your payroll or HR system, and it’s not Talent either. Here are the facts, every shift worker on the manufacturing floor uses a timeclock, a kiosk, a browser or a mobile phone to – clock in, take breaks or lunch, view schedules, request PTO and/or track time against a work order. Employees do this or they don’t get paid – we all like to get paid therefore engagement is natural. For the millennial-worker it’s also about acknowledging contribution and team-oriented validation.

So, what should Manufacturers do with this opportunity?

At Infor, we’ve invested heavily in the employee engagement concept. This comes in the form of industry specific applications and a commitment to beautiful design. Further and in the digital age, employees better consume and act on information in smaller portions or bytes. The days of the legacy Time and Attendance vendor with proprietary clocks and cumbersome employee experiences are over.

Digital transformation is upon us and with it, the industry’s first Digital Workforce Platform – Workforce Xi. Through the lens of the Talent Management and Recruitment industry, the decision that every employee makes to either use, or not use, a business application is now a factor of its digital capabilities. With that, Workforce Management presents the most compelling opportunity to engage employees each day and in the context of the specific job that they do. A few examples are as follows:

  • Proactive Communication: by designing platforms to push data and trends while there is still an opportunity to correct future course, is critical. Whether it’s simple alerts to avoid overtime or communicating shop floor productivity in real-time, we want employees and managers to know that cost can be avoided and throughput improved with a modern strategy for WFM.
  • Relevant Information: it’s increasingly important to keep interactions with any business system as relevant as possible. Due to frequency, keeping data specific to role and job in the Workforce Management area is critical. If data is relevant to how production volume and quality is measured, and how they contribute to the broader goals of the company – not to mention how they’re rewarded and paid – they will be inherently more engaged in the overall process.
  • Naturally Consumable: How many times have you logged into an application and just gotten confused on where to go? Applications not only have to be proactive and provide relevant information, the employee must easily understand what they are seeing and how to interact with it. Ease-of-use is critical and the format in which data is delivered must be familiar.
  • Connect Beyond Time and Attendance: Many organizations are using legacy Time and Attendance solutions that aren’t connected to other strategic WFM components to complimentary business solutions within their own organizations e.g., ERP or MES. To achieve employee engagement, Manufacturers need to collapse workload, labor standards and scheduling with timekeeping, as well as with materials and machine data, supply chain, and CRM information. Take advantage of a captive audience and provide information from every part of the business. If your Workforce Management platform isn’t connected in a digital format and with more than just timekeeping information, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

A truly digital workforce will have access to relevant and contextual information that takes them well beyond recording time, or coming to work based on a predetermined schedule. Today’s employee demands access to every data point in their world, at the exact moment it’s needed and on any given day. This is the definition of a modern, and engaged employee. This can also be a legitimate competitive advantage for the manufacturers that properly address the gap. And, because Workforce Management is such an ingrained part of the employee work-life, it offers a compelling use case for improved engagement.

Mike Brandt, Director, Workforce Management Industrial Manufacturing, Americas, @michaelgbrandt

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