5 ways workforce management technology is helping employers deal with disruption during COVID-19

workforce management technology

Businesses are finding innovative ways to use their workforce management technology to help deal with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Clients here and overseas are using Tanda technology to help communicate with their employees about important shift changes, safety measures and team morale. Here five key workforce management issues businesses should be prepared for over coming days, weeks and months.

1. Managing leave and sharing out shifts fairly

With expected increases in the number of people self-isolating to quarantine the virus, employers will need systems in place to deal with a surge in leave applications and be able to handle the differences in sick leave, carer’s leave, annual and discretionary leave and leave without pay.

Technology is already widely available to allow for easier approval of shifts and timesheets, the ability to add and edit leave and add manual allowances.

It’s important to ensure you purchase a platform that is compliant with Australia’s very complex industrial awards system and has not been designed for different overseas employment regulations. On top of this, because of COVID-19 there will be businesses trying to deal correctly with JobKeeper initiatives and state payroll tax changes.

An emerging trend is businesses putting a bigger emphasis on shift equity so they can retain great staff. A good technology platform will allow your business to easily see a breakdown of hours for each staff member then equitably share shifts among staff rather than have to drop some people off the roster.

2. Tracking self-isolation periods and COVID-19 test results

Some employers are using workforce management technology created to track regulations and wage award requirements to monitor their safety processes for COVID-19. Many essential services have begun managing their shifts in smaller teams, to ensure that even if members of one team were to become sick there would be a replacement team available.

Many businesses already use workforce management technology to set up overtime risk alerts so staff don’t exceed maximum hours allowed by their awards. Now, this existing technology can be used to help businesses keep a record of staff COVID-19 test results and monitor staff self-isolation expiry dates.

This solves one of the major logistical challenges of scheduling employees when it’s possible that entire groups of staff could be legally required to self-isolate at any time.

3. Monitoring profitability to keep businesses viable

Given the frequency of new announcements from all levels of government, businesses must have fast response times for fundamental operational changes. This makes it more important than ever to be able to make early cost-saving decisions based on reduced demand.

Uncertainty about the duration of business closures means employers who are on the front foot with modelling the outcomes on wage cost have a significant advantage. Workforce software allows these businesses to rapidly model the wage cost outcomes of their decisions, to help them remain viable.

Tanda’s Live Wage Tracker allows clients to track their wage costs every 15 minutes. By connecting this to their point of sales technology, live sales data is compared with staff costs so businesses can track exactly how they are performing throughout the day and use the data to make staffing decisions.

4. Making working from home easier

With webcams and microphone headsets flying off the shelves, people are preparing for the possibility that home-based working is here to stay. This will speed up the adoption of remote work technology such as Tanda’s Remote Clock In which allows staff working from home to clock in with their mobile devices.

New legislative requirements mean many employers still need to record hours of work even if they’re performed from home. The ability for employers to instantly switch from a workplace time clock to a remote attendance app means no extra admin burden. Employees can record multiple shift start and stop times if they split their day up at home, record breaks and note what activities they performed.

When Australia is back to “business as usual” many people will seek more flexible work arrangements. So, while employers are rightly focused on the here and now of making the “new normal” work for their businesses and employees, it’s important to keep an eye on long-term trends.

If businesses can function smoothly over the next few months, employees may question whether they need to come into the office every day to work effectively. If things are quiet now, it could be an opportune time for employers to look at how their processes work and whether they are set up to handle ongoing flexible work arrangements.

5. Keeping on top of team communication and morale

Communication and team morale are vital in uncertain times. Workforce technology can play a key role. Our clients are keeping staff in the loop using Tanda Chat via the mobile app. This Chat function is in beta test mode with a full rollout expected within months.

With the Chat function employers can message individuals or entire teams, sharing key updates and important documents like training files or new safety and sanitation policies and easily communicating changes to the business such as reduced opening hours.

These messages are easy for all team members to see in the app when you give group messages, or you can give private one-on-one feedback to staff.

On a practical level, the Chat function allows employers to remind a team member to clock out if they’ve forgotten to do so, to set up reminders about sanitising frequently touched surfaces or to report interactions with potentially unwell customers for ease of tracking.

The function also allows team morale-boosters if they are working from home, for example by being able to say happy birthday to a team member.

Colin McCririck is the Chief Technology Officer in Australia for global workforce management platform Tanda, a world-leading solution for workforce management, profitability and compliance. Founded in Australia in 2012, Tanda has grown from a Brisbane start-up to a global organisation assisting more than 6200 businesses and their 300,000+ employees with rostering, attendance, labour insights and workforce success. They deal in workforce management platforms, and one of the key parts of their platform is it gives employees and employers a really simple way to communicate about shifts, issues etc via an app on their mobile phones. Business enquiries 1300 859 117.