Your Workforce Tools Are More Strategic Than You Might Think

Apr 11, 2018

This is not a typical article about attracting talented job candidates or retention — while a rich topic, it has become a little tired. There are volumes of research on employee retention – some focus on affirmative strategies; others on mistakes and pitfalls of the world’s most revered companies. And what is clear is that turnover has a cost. In fact, SHRM estimates that every exit has an equivalent loss of six to nine-months of that employees’ salary.

Is the issue that companies just forgot how they initially attracted the employee, or is there something else at play?

Strategies for how companies attract talented job candidates should be similar to how they retain high performers. Exceptional employees have new and evolving expectations for how they collaborate with peers and contribute to corporate goals. Further, they seek choice and greater control when it comes to their work environment, including how they work with digital job tools.

What is workforce management?

Traditionally considered a lesser classification of HR software, workforce management (WFM) is neither HR, operations nor finance. It is wedged among all three, while also delivering ROI and high value to the corporate bottom line. WFM includes practical job tools for everything from timekeeping, scheduling, and forecasting to performance analytics. WFM should be woven deeply into the fabric of corporate culture as a lever for attraction and retention alike.

The hypothesis is simple. An engaged employee is a retained employee, and there is no job tool so pervasive as WFM to the employee. WFM is touched more frequently by the employee in any given day than most business applications will be in a year. Yet, most companies fail to recognize this. They view WFM as merely a time-clock mechanism, or possibly an electronic spreadsheet for scheduling.

If companies can fulfill promises made during the hiring process, such as good benefits and rich diversity programs, they are more likely to retain talent beyond the first six months. If they can enrich their lives and engage them in ways indicative of the modern market and digital age, retention turns quickly to loyalty. WFM does exactly that. It is a digital job tool that engages employees in a familiar way about subject matter that is important to them. Further, it enriches the work experience with data about individual contributions, thus making work more meaningful.

Avant-garde management

Thinking about WFM in this manner might be avant-garde but it is not a stretch. WFM is creating highly collaborative and digital work experiences with each of its interoperable parts. After all, a fulfilled employee, let alone an entire office full of them, is the most effective way to attract other talented candidates. Below are 9 concrete examples of how enlightened WFM applications can help companies attract and retain top talent

1. Digital: Exceptional employees are always thinking about work, and the lines between their personal lives and the job are getting more and more blurred. Digital job tools deliver mobile and social capabilities, and allow for analytical support in a highly intuitive, familiar way.

2. Collaborative scheduling: Talent today wants to contribute to the work plan and their role in it. Collaborative job tools that solicit input to these decisions make work meaningful. Employees can select days, roles, and the shifts that they desire to work.

3. Work preferences: Today, the need for flexible work arrangements is rated higher than any other job attribute. The ability to rank priorities for work availability, location, employment teams, holidays, and other factors are deeply valued.

4. Work feedback: Exceptional employees have perspectives about the work that they do. Sometimes the plan is not executed properly; sometimes the plan is poor. Companies that actively seek information from their employees are better prepared for the future.

5. Work collaboration: Sometimes employees do not always have the opportunity to interact around the work they do. Social platforms that are properly directed can have tremendous benefit to make each employee feel a true sense of community.

6. Shared calendars: The best workers care about the team around them and how they collectively impact work quality. Visibility to work and leave accommodations fosters better decision-making about impending schedules and empathy toward peers.

7. Time and rate attestations: We also know that employees appreciate the opportunity to review and approve their work effort. Where variable rates of pay are applicable and/or exceptions need to be corrected, employees are empowered to improve accuracy.

8. Shift and vacation bidding: From intern to C-suite, it is clear that every employee values their time and contributions to corporate goals. The ability to quantify that value changes day-to-day, and across pay periods. Bidding arrangements for work and leave are a key engagement tool.

9. Performance analytics: Lastly, today’s employees, especially younger generations, are both competitive and conscientious. They desire accountability and seek to be measured against their peer group. Frequent analysis of their contributions creates transparency about both process and outcomes.

Companies that have integrity also have harmony between their hiring and retention strategies. They recognize that the evolution of the modern market, and what exceptional employees demand, will require more frequent attention to the entire employee lifecycle. The most effective tool – one that likely exists at most companies – is WFM. It is a high touch opportunity and deeply pervasive – it is truly a beacon of hope in an otherwise tired pursuit to retain talent.