We spoke with Workforce Software CEO Mike Morini, a 30-year industry veteran who’s spent much of his time growing and scaling enterprise software companies. He previously held executive positions at SAP, Aria Systems, OutlookSoft, InterWorld and Verbind.
How do you think today’s labor market and economy are affecting the way employers think about and use workplace technology? What about employees?
Smart employers understand that if they want to remain competitive in a tight labor market, improve organizational responsiveness and become an employer of choice, they need to implement workplace technology and/or upgrade their operational systems and workforce management tech.
In the current workforce, workers of all ages and generations are aware of the value technology has on making it easier for them to perform their daily work, enjoy greater scheduling flexibility and control, stay connected with their managers and other team members, and enjoy an overall better employee experience. With lower barriers to job change, employees have more options to seek employers that offer these desired benefits.
By 2025, Millennials and Gen Z will make up two-thirds of all workers. These individuals were raised as digital natives with high expectations for the availability of information, ease of use, personalization of their work experience and are often skeptical of their company’s technology choices. Gen X, while not raised with tablets and smartphones, was raised with personal computers (and later, the internet) and are generally quite comfortable with new technologies. Even many of the Silent Generation have adopted smartphones and mobile apps, and are inclined to use them daily.
If employees of any of these generations see their employers are not modernizing or providing them with digital management and communication tools they can use from their phones, they experience increasing frustration, which can ultimately lead to being less engaged, less productive and eventually they will move on in search of a company that can provide what workplace tech they need in order to be successful and happy in their role.
Many companies are cutting back on spending with an economic downturn looming. What do you think is the most impactful or beneficial technology for these companies to invest in? What has proven successful in the past?
Even with economic uncertainty, companies should be investing in workforce management technologies because they have the highest return on investment — delivering measurable savings through labor optimization, reduction of manual errors, better control over over time, productivity improvements and reduction in employee attrition. These cost savings can be funneled back into programs or operational objectives versus payroll leakage or unproductive spend. Leaders continue to invest through economic challenges to further their competitive advantage gap when competitors cut back.
Seek HR tech solutions that don’t require significant capital investments but match the employee experience and business objectives for incremental improvements. For example, beginning to leverage communications and training that are accessible from mobile phones is beneficial for both employees and employers. Leveraging the power of mobile to provide direct messaging capabilities for two way communication between managers, direct reports and colleagues to easily reach each other, creating an environment where employees can serve their communication and information needs in way that’s similar to what they do in their personal lives. Linking workers with their peers can also accelerate responses and reduce frustration in a way that workers are already accustomed to operating in their personal lives — a win-win for employers and employees. Enhanced communication creates a more connected, engaged and productive workforce.
Leveraging modern HR technology can also support cost avoidance during economic downturns. Through modern HR tech, companies can be provided with real-time sentiment analysis, insights to scheduling trends (late arrivals, overtime patterns, absenteeism), conditions leading to safety issues and other data about their employees and the workplace. This allows managers to understand what is needed and take appropriate action to improve the day-to-day work experience and proactively address any issues.
For instance, fatigue management systems can monitor hours worked, tasks performed, breaks taken and time off scheduled to flag employees that may be at risk of becoming burned out or who are at a higher safety risk. Tools like instant mobile surveys that gather employee feedback in the moment are also available, making it easy for managers to take action on adaptations employees want.
With up-to-date technology in their workplaces, employers can be more cognizant of their workforce’s challenges and needs, as well as give employees the opportunity to be more productive and efficient in their work.
Questions of workplace culture and employee experience are also emerging amid continuing labor shortages. What are your thoughts on the role that technology can play there?
There has been a permanent and profound change in employee expectations and what employees value when it comes to workplace culture, flexibility and the employee experience. With labor shortages impacting operations and constraining growth, technology can be a critical enabler for company success by supporting employee satisfaction, engagement and ultimately worker productivity.
Tech can provide two-way communication methods that can have an impact on feelings of connection, input and impact as well as the ability to support greater scheduling flexibility, especially for the deskless workforce. This scheduling flexibility has allowed deskless workers to have more control over their schedules so they can accommodate personal and/or work obligations — just as their corporate colleagues have enjoyed the benefits of remote and hybrid work. Without these investments in enabling technologies, many companies have the desire to implement practices that support worker desires but lack the ability to do so.
For example, if union rules or specific skills requirements make shift swaps impractical to implement, technology can be deployed in accordance with union rules or specific skills required and manage shift swap requests in conformance to specific rules. Many existing systems and manual scheduling processes don’t accommodate these needs. Without investment, employers are left to manage the gap between company needs and employee desires for more flexibility and control.
Implementing new technology enables even complex rules and auto routing of requests to give employees a better work-life balance while still meeting the needs of the company to run efficiently. The ability to offer benefits that employees want demonstrates they are valued by their employer.