hfx awarded G-Cloud 10

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hfx are proud to announce our approval onto the G-Cloud 10 procurement framework which allows public sector organisations to quickly and easily procure proven cloud solutions and services without the costs and delays involved in standard procurement processes. Not only does G-CLOUD reduce costs and delays, but it enables modern public sector organisations to on-board agile and effective solutions that empower them to rapidly transform their organisations, adapt to change and take advantage of proven technology in the workplace. hfx previously were awarded G-Cloud 8 and 9 and have been providing flexitime and access control solutions to the public sector for over 40 years.

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CIPHR and HFX announce partnership to provide cloud-based flexible working and staff time management solutions

ciphr and hfx

HFX, a leading provider of SaaS flexitime and workforce management solutions, has signed a partnership agreement with CIPHR. The new partnership includes integration that brings together HFX’s cloud-based workforce and time management solutions with CIPHR’s range of HR, Recruitment and Learning solutions.

Rob Oehlers, head of customer experience at CIPHR said; “HFX’s cloud-based products are a significant extension to our own HR SaaS solutions. HFX’s innovative approach to managing staff working time means their products are flexible, based on real world experience and extremely useable.

Nicola Smart Chief Operating Officer at HFX commented: “CIPHR’s mid-market focus is an important segment for our products and services. We find that the flexibility that we can provide with our cloud-based model works really well in this market where agile companies are keen to maximise use of specialist technology. We are delighted to be working with CIPHR.”

Imperago solutions comprise: 

Imperago Flexitime Management, is the market leading solution that is the preferred option throughout the public sector and local government organisations.

Imperago Time & Attendance (T&A), which is a powerful, flexible and cost-effective solution that is both user-friendly and extremely easy to maintain. Imperago T&A is an all-in-one Service-as-a-Solution package that covers software, hardware, support and maintenance on a pay as you go basis with no upfront capital outlay. Imperago T&A is ideal for companies across all vertical sectors with 200 to 50,000 employees, particularly for those with shift-based workers.

Imperago Access Control provides a ‘light touch’ approach to securing and monitoring access to workspaces that requires very little infrastructure and significantly reduces the amount of cabling required. The door controlling devices offer the option of either biometric (fingerprint) or proximity readers and are manufactured in the UK to HFX’s detailed specification.

Imperago EveryOneCloud connects people and devices at whatever location, and logs time, supporting workforce planning and Time & Attendance solutions, enabling organisations of all sizes to monitor their staff and productivity. A cloud solution, EveryOneCloud can be ready to go within minutes, with no need for servers, software installation or heavy up-front costs. It integrates with and sends data to T&A, Payroll, Student Attendance and Workforce Management solutions (including rostering & shift management).

Imperago Workforce Design, the missing first step when implementing T&A solutions, is a powerful algorithm that provides staff-friendly and efficient rosters and shifts in a fraction of the time of a manual worksheet. It enables ‘what if’ modelling and scenario planning with ease.

About CIPHR

CIPHR is a leading UK-based provider and developer of HR software as a service (SaaS), offering a scalable solution that covers the entire employee lifecycle. Our systems’ features include people management, employee self service, absence and time management, payroll, recruitment, communications and reporting.

The CIPHR Connect ecosystem of trusted business applications, including HFX, that integrate seamlessly with CIPHR’s powerful HR and recruitment solutions, enabling you to connect people data across your whole organisation.

For more information about CIPHR’s HR, recruitment and learning solutions visit CIPHR

About HFX

HFX cloud suite includes Imperago™ Time and Attendance, Access Control, Workforce Design, Annualised Hours and EveryOneCloud Attendance Monitoring/Location Management.

HFX Imperago solutions provide seamless integration with major HR and payroll systems. Highly customisable, HFX Imperago solutions can be configured to meet exact requirements and can support unlimited numbers of work patterns.

HFX is the leading provider of flextime™ in the UK. Used by over 1400 customers across the UK, local authorities, other public sector bodies and commercial organisations benefiting from HFX solutions include: Home Office, Merck, Methodist Church, Dartmoor National Park, Adidas, Buhler Sortex Ltd, The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), Eaton Limited, MoD, National Farmers’ Union, Hertsmere Borough Council, North Lanarkshire Council, Exeter City Council, Isle of Man Government, MoJ, Met Police, Flintshire County Council, Office for National Statistics, UK Intellectual Property Office, NHS Business Services Authority, Science and Technology Facilities Council.

EveryOneCloud – a 12 year demonstrates how simple it is to use

Our latest cloud solution for Attendance Recording, Presence and Location tracking is simple to setup, simple to configure, simple to use. It literally is child’s play. To prove it we asked a 12 year old not just to use the system but to record a demo of it.

With EveryOneCloud you can be up and running within hours collecting attendance data and/or tracking location and presence using any of our cloud devices including Hand Readers, Face Recognition Readers, Fingerprint readers, card/proximity (rfid/hid/mifare) or leveraging our Android mobile app or telecheck solutions.

Download the EveryOneCloud Brochure

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The Money is Not Enough

silver and gold coins
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Whilst we often avoid the cliché’ it is generally recognised that the combined knowledge, skill and talent of your workforce is the engine of corporate success. Attracting and Retaining talent is a relentless task that will become even harder as employment levels continue to rise and competition for talent becomes greater.

However, I suggest that simply offering Money is not enough nor is it a sound strategy for attracting or retaining the talent of today.  The first reason is obvious; money isn’t unique or special. Any company can simply match or exceed your offer. The second reason is just a reflection of our times; The 80’s dream that students would retire in their 50’s and live a life of leisure for the following 40 years has disappeared. Today they can expect to be working for 50+ years and want to do something meaningful and rewarding not just in work but outside of work. They value time as much as they value money.

The problem may seem daunting but the solution is very much alive within the public sector where pay is often very limited and they have no option but to explore other means of attracting and retaining staff.  Their solution is Flexitime – providing staff flexibility around what times they work during the week. This popular approach helps attract and retain staff who otherwise might be attracted elsewhere through the promise of extra money.

Flexitime is a “integrated” solution because staff can blend their work patterns and home patterns, and this is more beneficial than simply a pay rise elsewhere that would disrupt their home patterns (whether that be dropping the kids off to school, going to the gym or a myriad of other activities). It fully integrates staff to the organisation whilst providing the work-life-balance they value.

THE NUT IS BIGGER THAN YOU THINK

This will often lead into a discussion about whether the solution is a sledgehammer and the problem being just a nut. Staff turnover varies from organisation to organisation but the average is 15%. In general, you feel the pain less because attrition occurs over a year – imagine the pain if 15% resigned in a single week!

In general, it will cost you one year’s salary to recruit and train a new member of staff. This does not allow for all the knowledge lost that cannot be quantified though figures. But the numbers add up.

Of course, not all attrition is due to conflicting work patterns which is why staff exit interviews and surveys are important so you can assess the issues and impact of solutions.

But what if you could decrease attrition by a third? What impact would that have on productivity, reduced recruitment and training costs?

Then there is staff recruitment. Do you survey those that decline a job offer? Are you losing the best candidates because of inflexible work patterns? Does when people work matter more to you than how well they do their work?

How many staff take sick days because of personal diary conflicts? Almost impossible to measure but almost certainly it occurs in every organisation with inflexible work patterns.

THE VALUE OF TIME

The final discussion is often about how valuable flexitime is to staff. The answer of course is that depends on the individual, but only by extent not by absolute.

An employee on £10 per hour will earn about £19,500 per year (gross) and spends 2 hours a day commuting to work during rush hour. By working flexibly, he can cut his journey time from 2 hours to 1 hour a day by avoiding the rush hour. That’s worth (deducting his holiday time) £2,400 per year NET. The equivalent in gross salary would result in an 18% increase.

In another example, an employee that commuted by train to work could save between £500 and £1,500 a year by traveling off-peak.

So, benefits for staff are not just about fitting in personal plans but also saving time and in some cases saving money.  And in these examples, many companies would struggle to match the cash value that translates into flexitime.

ITS ABOUT TIME

Whether the discussion is about how to reward staff when times are commercially tough or how to attract and retain staff when times are good, it’s about time to start discussion now.

Some tips to get you started;

  1. Analyse the figures for staff turnover and categorise the reasons. Your exit interviews need to be carefully constructed to gain genuine and informative information.
  2. Similarly, you need to follow up your application rejections to gain insight.
  3. Get a deeper view of sickness. Not just occurrences but durations.
  4. Implement the Bradford Factor to get another layer of detail.
  5. Identify the staffing groups that easily map to flexitime
  6. Be clear about what times are flexible and what are not.
  7. Create a policy with clear and transparent rules.
  8. Ensure you have a system in place that eases administration, provides transparency and helps demonstrate the benefits.

 

Flexitime – Attract and Retain Talent

Organisations that deploy flexitime create a strong bond with their employees through personalised schedules that meet not only the employers business needs but also the employees preferences. This blended and personalised relationship not only retains key talent but also attracts new talent in a highly competitive market.

Fatigue is the Phantom Menace

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The construction industry is a major engine of GDP (over 100 billion in economic output) and employs over 2 million people in the UK. However, it suffers more than many industries in terms of accidents and injury. With more than 43 fatal accidents in 2017 (4 times more than the average across all industries) and over 5,000 non-fatal accidents it is no wonder that this industry more than others is regarded as high risk.

Add to this the other 65,000 work related illness (Stress, Depression, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Respiratory and Skin conditions) and it is clear that Health and Safety needs to be embedded at every level of the organisation and especially integrated into the planning process.

Clearly there are unique and challenging circumstances with construction sites; the dynamic and changing environment and the lack of inherent infrastructure all combine to frustrate the best safety plans. What was safe yesterday may not be as safe today. An unoccupied area yesterday may be occupied today. Multiple activities concurrently taking place create varying risk each day.

Add to this “P&P” (Pressure & Penalties) that now pervade the industry to deliver to tight deadlines or face a financial hair-cut and mitigations that incorporate a 6 or 7-day week and/or long hours for workers and there is little wonder that injuries are higher.

But beyond the hard hats and high vis what can be done to reduce this blight upon the industry?

The first is the recognition that Fatigue is your greatest enemy. Fatigue impairs your ability to process information, slows your reactions and decreases awareness and attention. In short it reduces your ability to accurately estimate risk. In fact, 20% of major road incidents are the result of fatigue and many of the most publicised accidents (Exxon Valdez, Herald of Free Enterprise, Chernobyl, Clapham Junction, Texas City and Challenger) have been linked to tiredness.

To put it simply in many cases fatigue is a predictor (“lead” indicator) to an accident (“lag” indicator).
The maxim “you can’t prevent what you can’t predict” is very pertinent here. If you can understand the causes and drivers of accidents (fatigue) and you can assess likely fatigue in shifts/patterns, then you can reduce fatigue and prevent the associated outcomes (accidents)

The second is to recognise that long hours/weeks are not the friend of tight deadlines but its nemesis. Accidents create downtime and lost productivity. They CAUSE delays. However, because there is not a 100% correlation between fatigue and accidents, there is a tendency to roll the dice when pressure and deadlines encroach. But you cannot build an enduring business or industry upon this strategy. It is not a replicable/repeatable route to success. You may dodge the bullet more than most but sooner or later it will hit and may create not only contractual or financial strife but also long term reputational damage.

The solution lies with new technology and software that ensures you have the right people in the right place at the right time with the right skills. These planning systems can build in cover for absence/training and holidays, so you can ensure both and safe and optimum levels of resource to meet deadlines without the need for overtime/extended work periods. The benefit of planning effectively also delivers dividends through reducing fatigue, overtime costs, absence and accidents. Indeed, some solutions such as hfx already have fatigue factors built into the system to reduce risk and provide assurance.

Another risk factor within construction sites is keeping track of who is on-site and where they are. Again, technology has come a long way with mobile apps that allow supervisors to register staff onsite, fully self-sufficient clocking terminals that are solar/battery powered with 3g for data transit, and beacons/tags that allow the site manager to know exactly who has turned up and exactly where they are in real-time. These solutions are the next generation “high visibility” tools allowing the site manager to know who is where without the need for line of site or audio contact.  If there is a situation the site manager can instantly view the location and presence of his team and act immediately.

The ability to Plan and Track workers in real-time can not only reduce accidents but also provide a constant feed-back loop to enable planners to constantly improve their planning based on outcomes. This process is not only critical to ensure health and safety but also though analysis, improve quality, productivity, delivery and reduce downtime, accidents and delay.

Download Staff Tracking and Attendance Brochure

Alpha6: Complex Rostering Reduced to Six Steps

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Defining the problem:

In many organisations business activity comes in ebb and flows based on demands from their customers. Whilst this can be forecast to some degree based on orders, shipments, contracts and seasons of the year etc, there is a high degree of complexity in ensuring sufficient staff are rostered to reflect the level of activity. This complexity arises from the working rules, policies and practices that limit staff assignments; Union Rules, Health and Safety Rules, EU working time rules, breaks between shifts, maximum shift lengths, holiday rules and internal policies all constrain the ability to map the right number of staff to achieve the right level of activity at the right time.

The result is that many organisations tend to roster to meet a constant somewhere between the ebb and flow of the activity levels (if indeed they have measured these). The problem is compounded as managers often do not consider absences (such as holiday entitlement) when they device the roster.

The consequence of these omissions is that often staff are over-rostered – e.g. present when there is little or no work to be done and absent (under-rostered) when there is a high demand of work. The result is that overtime and agency workers are deployed to meet the demand or else the organisation maybe damaged in terms of reputation, Service Level Agreement or in terms of financial penalties.

One way of avoiding the risk is to factor in the costs of overtime and agency work to avoid delays but this makes the organisation uncompetitive and risks losing customers or failing to acquire new business as a result.

Fool’s Gold:
in the past electronic solutions have been developed that attempt to map shifts and rosters to demand through complex algorithms and brute force mapping. The solutions have often been expensive, highly complicated with only IT personnel able to tweak rules and parameters and often long delays between each attempt to identify the correct pattern. The systems often return unworkable rosters that will not meet union rules and are based on a singular fallacy that there is such a thing as a perfect roster. An optimal roster can still be an unworkable one based on the internal preferences and policies of the organisation. These preferences often cannot be codified in a fully electronic system and the missing element is the human factor.

Alpha6 Methodology
Alpha6 is a methodology and process that has been developed and honed over 20 years to create optimal rosters that both meet the requirements of the business and the written and unwritten rules around staff working times. But most importantly it also includes the human factor in guiding the process from each step forward. Alpha6 done manually is not pain free; it requires training, skill and collaboration from other team members.

Alpha1: Demand to Requirements
The start of the process is to identify the demand levels and translate them into requirements. Demand are the activities that need to be completed over a week broken down by between 15 and 60-minute intervals. The activity could be building a widget or packing etc. The important element is when these activities need to start (e.g. when the shipment arrives) and be completed by.

From this Raw business level view of demand, you can with knowledge of the duration each activity takes, and quantity translate these into a requirements grid. Again, this is by 15 to 60-minute intervals over each day for a week. You know have a set of requirements of how many staff you need by each 15-60 segment of the day and week.

However, there is an immediate sense check to do on the requirements grid. Staff do not come into work for just 15 minutes so we need to look at how sensible the requirements and apply some annealing – softening of the requirements.

So, for example, your faithful transposing of demand into requirements (say by 15 minutes) may show as follows: 8:15 = 5, 8:30 = 1, 8:45 = 5 – you will not be sending 4 people home at 8:30 so amending the requirements to 8:15 = 4, 8:30 = 4, 8:45 = 4 will iron out the undoable without impacting significantly either on cost or productivity

Alpha2: Constraints
Understanding and documenting the constraints will save you huge amount of time.
These include the contracted hours of staff, their holiday entitlement, average time off work due to training or sickness, the minimum and maximum shift lengths that have been agreed internally, the number of shifts that can be worked in a row, the minimum and maximum off duty days that can be used.  There may also be rules around how many nights can be worked in a row that is different from how many earlies or days.

Alpha3: Shifts and Requirements
With both the requirements and constraints identified the next process is to select a number of shifts that fit within the constraints identified that can satisfy the requirements. Without an electronic system, you will need to narrow down these shifts before you attempt this stage. In general, the process of mapping shifts to requirements is a two-way process where adapting shift start/end times and durations becomes a learning process. At the end of the process you will have identified the number of shifts and the type of shifts that meet the requirements. By aligning the shift durations and quantity you will be able to calculate the number of staff required to full fill the requirements.

Alpha4: Planning for absence
Whilst Alpha3 provides the number staff to fulfil the requirements it does not consider staff holiday, absence and training. If you need 60 staff to fulfil the requirements, then you must also factor in their holidays and cover. If staff have 20 days holiday a year then that is 1200 days holiday which is an additional 5 staff required (because cover staff also get holiday). This cover needs to be spread over the period of a year and applied to any “tension” days or shifts (e.g. it may be that staff are more likely to take off Saturday and Sundays as holiday or night shifts). You may also factor in things like training or sickness. The main calculation here is how much to plan for versus how much to deal with through overtime. In some cases, your calculation might reveal you need 4.5 people for cover. In this scenario, it might be more cost effective to roster 4 more people and deal with .5 as overtime.

Alpha5: OFF DUTY
With your completed staffing level you now start with a pattern, one week (row) for each staff member. Thus, if you have a requirement for 67 staff the pattern will go for 67 weeks and there will be 67 lines in your pattern (with columns Mon to Sun). Obviously, staff do not work 7 days a week but given the requirements we know how many staff are needed on any given day and subtract that from the number of staff calculated. At the bottom of the pattern we know the total number of off duties for each day of the pattern. The process now is to plug in the required number of off-duties on each day for each row of the pattern. However, in general the 2 golden rules are that staff prefer weekends off and want a minimum of 2 off duties in a row. A roster that has off duty/on duty/off duty is likely to be rejected by staff.  The best approach is to start from Saturday/Sunday and work backwards/forwards ensuring that all off-duties are included. Be cognisant of the period between off duties and the rules about how many on duty shifts employees should work in a row. The key point here is that staff generally care more about when they are NOT working than when they are working. Getting this right is a critical stage.

Alpha6: ON DUTY
With the Off-duty roster completed the next step is to plug in the on-duty shifts. Based on the previous steps you will know how many of each shift need to be done on each day. However, an early typically cannot follow a night shift and you need to be cognisant of any rules about how many night shifts can be worked in row.  You now have an optimised pattern that meets the business needs whilst also being employee friendly.

HFX Imperago Workforce Design incorporates and automates the Alpha6 process reducing this process from 3-5 days to 15 minutes.