Flamingo Flowers, Blue Diamond Garden Centres and DX Network Services benefit from seamless and efficient workforce management with HFX’s cloud time and attendance and rostering solutions
HFX, one of the UK’s leading developers of cloud-based workforce management solutions, has announced a record first quarter, with nearly £1m sales to new clients in the retail sector, including Flamingo Flowers, Blue Diamond Garden centres and DX Network Services, the delivery company. All three organisations have selected HFX‘s cloud Time and Attendance (T&A), as well as its Rostering and Cost Management solution, to manage large numbers of employees working across multiple locations.
Flamingo Flowers, a supplier of flowers and vegetables to leading supermarket chains including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, has selected HFX’s solution to manage 1700 employees across its five UK locations and headquarters in Stevenage.
DX Network Services, the parcels delivery specialist for the legal profession and passport office, has over 4000 employees across 70 UK sites, while Blue Diamond has 30 garden centres. They have also selected secure biometric fingerprint terminals to manage access control as part of the HFX’s integrated Time and Attendance solution.
All three companies have invested in HFX’s Rostering, Budgeting and Cost Management solution to create and track cost-efficient rotas for staff, both to meet seasonal demands and to ensure compliance with working hours regulation and staff wellbeing.
Nicola Smart, COO at HFX said; “We have seen a massive increased demand for our cloud workforce management solutions. Cloud technology is accelerating the move away from large scale, monolithic enterprise suites to ‘Best in Class’ applications that provide ‘plug and play’ capabilities enabling organisations to put together a solution that meets their own individual requirements with ease.
“Our Rostering and Budgeting solutions reflect the New World of Work – companies can capture multi-dimensional attendance data in many different ways – by time, location, activity and cost centre. Having this information at their fingertips enables companies to plan resources and have the right staff working at the location, at the right time, to deliver their services or meet production targets profitably while ensuring staff wellbeing at the same time.”
Waiting for payday has been a universal and shared experience around the globe for over a hundred years with almost everyone in paid work typically waiting between 1 to 4 weeks until they receive the rewards of their endeavours.
This concept was so ingrained within our working life that until recently it has rarely been questioned. The problem though, is that whilst workers wait up to a month to be paid for their work, the reverse is true for purchasing where consumers are mostly required to pay in advance or on delivery.
Personal budgeting is one way of bridging this divide, but for minimum wage employees, an unexpected car repair or appliance failure can easily torpedo your careful planning.
The economic meltdown in 2008 put further strain on the financial well-being of workers across the world and pushed many into the arms of the payday loan market which grew rapidly as a result.
Whilst its advocates promoted the loan as a means of bridging the gap between payday, the reality was the eye-watering interest rates simply compounded the problem and forced many workers further into debt.
However, today organisations are starting to re-evaluate how and when their employees are remunerated in the emerging New World of Work. Some companies such as Wagestream provide tools and services to enable employees to get access to a proportion of their salary before payday avoiding the need for them to rely on expensive short-term loans.
The New World of Work will continue to challenge and change the way we work and the often-heard response “Because this is how we’ve always done it”.
The office attire, colloquially referred to as being “suited and booted”, has been the default and often mandatory office uniform from as far back as the 19th Century. It gained a new life in the 1980’s with the concept of power dressing as a means of projecting authority and power but today, according to a survey by Travelodge, only 1 in 10 workers wear a suit to work.
This dramatic shift has less to do with fashion changes, rather a reflection on the changing attitudes to organisational structure and colleagues in the work environment.
Historically, you could often ascertain someone’s seniority by the clothes they wore, and this was often encouraged to distinguish management from employees. But this visual reinforcement of the hierarchical structure and decision making is outdated in the New World of Work.
Hierarchical structures functioned well in a world where change happened slowly, and decisions filtered down from the top. But today, change is happening fast, not just in terms of business models, but also in terms of technology and markets. Old hierarchical structures struggle to identify and adapt fast enough to remain relevant and competitive.
The trend is for Managers and CEO’s to be more embedded and collaborative with their teams to enable them to identify and guide the company through rapid changes.
Breaking down corporate barriers also means leaving behind the paraphernalia that divides and instead adopting behaviours and appearance that unites teams and helps foster open debate and discussion.
Unsurprisingly many CEO’s are ditching the suit and choosing Jeans and T-shirts to reflect a more open and approachable style. Breaking away from the office dress code makes a clear statement that the organisation embraces individual thought rather than uniform group-think.
Workforce Management Software (often shortened to WFM) addresses a specific need within an organisation regarding the operational planning, deployment and management of staff. WFM is generally sandwiched between HR and Payroll solutions with integration to each other. However, whilst HR and Payroll are generally admin solutions, WFM focuses more on the operational needs of the organisation.
WFM often incorporates several core modules
Time and Attendance:
This provides the ability to record the attendance of staff often in real-time through data collection devices (Card or Biometric) and calculates the time a colleague has been at work, any absences, lateness and overtime.
This information is then passed (via integration) to the payroll system avoiding the need to manually enter and calculate hours to pay. This automates much of the manual activity, removes payroll errors and ensures equal and fair treatment of staff.
From an operational perspective it ensures managers are alerted if staff do not turn up for work enabling them to find immediate cover. From a management perspective it provides managers with data on lateness and absence so that they can take appropriate and timely action.
Naturally, every organisation is different and operate different polices. An advanced Time and Attendance module can cope with different environments and policies. For instance, in an office environment, they may operate a Flexitime policy and want to track hours worked, TOIL and ensure the Flexitime rules are adhered to.
An organisation with seasonal peaks and troughs may implement Annualised Hours for staff and require the Time and Attendance to manage this specific policy. Not all Time and Attendance solutions provide this flexibility.
The ability to plan your staff resources effectively can often be challenging for managers particularly where there is a need for specific skills at particular times of the day/week.
Almost every workforce management solution provides rostering, but this can be limited to basic planning (Shifts). Advanced solutions such as HFX enable more detailed planning and provide the ability to plan where the staff are going to be deployed (location), their activity, Cost Centre, Department or Client and even cost the plan against a budget for that team/department/cost centre.
This enables managers to ensure the right people are at the right place with the right skills at the right time. From an operational perspective this ensures that the work is completed on time and to budget. From a financial perspective it enables the organisation to ensure that project/contract is profitable whilst reducing the cost of overtime.
For those organisations that are heavily task/contract focused, it is important to ensure that staff productivity is monitored to ensure the organisation is providing an efficient and profitable service.
Measuring productivity varies from organisation to organisation, but generally focuses on measuring the time and/or cost of completing an activity (e.g. “packing”) or outputs (e.g. “widgets made”). Advanced workforce management solutions provide technology that enable staff to “Book onto” a task/activity and/or the number of outputs generated within that time-frame.
This real-time information is used by Operation Managers to identify non-productive areas, investigate and implement plans to improve efficiency such as training, technology or process improvements. From a finance perspective, managers gain valuable insight into the costs of production, activities and overall in terms of fulfilling contracts.
Additional Modules within Workforce Management
Often Time and Attendance solutions capture data via card or biometric devices. Many organisations see the benefit in using a single system to manage not just attendance but also access to the building and secure areas. The advantage of using one card (or storing one biometric template) is obvious and so some workforce management providers have an Access Control module to facilitate this.
Visitor Registration is also a logical extension to workforce management so that a single system can track all people within the organisation (full time, part time, contractors, visitors etc) for the purposes of security, health & safety and roll-call (in case of fire).
Some providers also have a Lone Worker module so that staff who are remote or visit customer sites can be tracked to ensure their safety and also enable remote attendance recording.
Those organisations with varying demands (over the period of a day or week) often want to optimise their shift patterns so that they align with business demand. This often yields significant savings by eliminating “dead time” (where staff are at work but have nothing to do) and overtime (where lack of planned resource to meet demand requires overtime or agency staff). Workforce Design solves this complex problem by ensuring that requirements are met whilst considering fatigue, risk, human factors and legal requirements.
In conclusion, Workforce Management solutions enable organisations to become more efficient though effective planning, accurate recording, automation, decision support and analytics. However, few are able to meet the breadth and depth of functionality required to address all aspects of workforce management.
HFX provides a complete suite of next generation cloud workforce management solutions.
Best of Breed Workforce Management Solutions are now increasingly chosen over the traditional Best of Suite HCM providers.
Research by Navigo reveals that overwhelmingly (69%) choose a Best of Breed provider to meet their needs rather than a suite. It also discovered that 50% more organisations were “Very Satisfied” with a Best of Breed than those who purchased this as a module of HCM.
This maybe a sign that changes in the workforce are occurring more frequently and organisations need more agile and adaptable solutions. This seems to be confirmed by the study with the average age of a 5 years for a WFM solution compared with 7+ for HCM Suites.
Whilst a rapidly changing workforce environment may be a contributing factor, it is cloud technology that is accelerating the move away from Best of Suite towards a new paradigm of “plug and play” applications in the cloud.
Historically Best of Breed applications where held back by limitations with integration. Many applications didn’t “play well” with other applications or even devices. But this is changing fast.
In the 1980’s your choice of printers was often dictated by the word-processor (or even computer) you purchased. But the introduction of “software drivers” removed this restriction and now with “plug and play” no-one worries about whether the printer they purchase will work with any of their applications.
This revolution in technology – largely forgotten – is being played out within modern cloud applications. Today we share content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other cloud platforms without even thinking about the enabling technology that seamlessly integrates these applications together.
Web and cloud integration technologies make integration simple, secure and in many cases real-time. Data flows seamlessly between applications and without the need for organisations to involve their IT departments.
Historically IT departments would spend significant internal resource trying to knit on-premise applications together to avoid users having to dual key data into separate applications. Now, many modern cloud providers provide integration plug-ins to other vendors without the need for any internal work. Likewise, the adoption of Single Sign on (SSO) standards has meant that user experience across platforms isn’t impacted.
This represents a watershed moment in vendor selection. Historically organisations had to weigh up the trade-offs between a fully integrated suite that didn’t quite meet their business requirements versus a Best of Breed option that didn’t quite meet the “joined up” experience that users required.
With next generation cloud “Best of Breed” applications removing this barrier, organisations no longer need to sacrifice business need over user experience.
It also enables organisations to adapt more quickly to changing situations and without the costly and long delays required to replace a monolithic application. If a specific solution cannot be adapted to the new way of working, then it can be replaced without needing to replace the entire suite.
Ultimately organisations are looking to become more agile and the new world of “Cloud Plug & Play” has enabled them to do just that.
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