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What’s the easiest way to plan better employee schedules?

July 24, 2014

Guest blog post by Jennifer Ardery, Product Marketing Manager, Kronos, Inc.

Begin with an accurate forecast. You can’t use guesswork to align labor to demand. At a minimum, you should look for historical trends. forecastingSeasonality may be the biggest variable at your organization or day of the week, or maybe the same local event affects your business year after year. There are typically patterns that drive fluctuating demand, but they are difficult to find manually. Having the flexibility to re-forecast when unexpected occurrences arise is important too.

An accurate forecast is the foundation for creating a best-fit schedule – requiring less staffing changes once the schedule has been posted. Forecasting demand to come up with an equitable workload plan is important in all industries, although the benefits can be experienced differently. I’ll cover a couple of examples.

Healthcare

Traditionally, hospitals use the static, budgeted census, to determine how many nurses are needed to satisfy patient demand. However, it is common that on one day, a unit will have a staffing shortage, but need to send staff home the next day due to over-coverage. This practice often results in generating inadequate schedules that require numerous daily staffing changes as it does not take predictable, fluctuating demand and historical data into account.

Leading organizations require more intelligent volume forecasts to plan best-fit schedules that align staffing to demand. By predicting future patient volumes, staffing managers:

  • Gain confidence that resources are properly scheduled to meet fluctuating demand by day, month, and shift;
  • Experience reduced reliance on overtime and expensive agency resources by minimizing over- and under-staffing; and
  • Increase employee and patient satisfaction as resources are scheduled when and where they need to be.

Retail

Today’s leading retailers typically require forecasted demand down to 15-minute increments. Store managers may be able to manually estimate the number of employees needed to cover an average week or month, but most likely not for a particular shift on a particular day. Typically, automated forecasting solutions use algorithms behind the scenes to allow store managers to create accurate forecasts based on a wide range of definable metrics, including sales, transactions, customers served, units sold, etc.

By aligning labor with anticipated customer demand, you can help ensure that both employee and customer needs are fully met. An accurate forecast will help:

  • Schedule the right person, in the right place, at the right time
  • Keep your budget in line with expectations by reducing overstaffing
  • Improve productivity, customer service, and sales conversion by avoiding understaffing

Retail_Forecasting

How do you forecast at your organization? Does it help build better schedules?

What happens in Vegas…

July 16, 2014

Guest blog post by Lauren Farah, Product Marketing Specialist at Kronos, Inc.

VegasWe all know the old saying “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” and that was a big part of the city’s appeal (thanks to some marketing geniuses.) Yes, the strip is lined with beautiful resorts, top chef restaurants and amazing shows for every age (Céline Dion anyone?) – but many people travel to the City Of Sin to indulge in all things, well, sinful. One could spend three wild, sleepless nights in the dry 100+ degree desert heat, and leave all the guilt behind. But I hate to break it to you, times have changed. And I am not just talking about really smart phones capturing all the hazy memories and leaving them in an embarrassing place in social media for all eternity. I am talking about the Vegas trip that no one will want to forget.

This year’s KronosWorks is taking place at the ARIA resort in Las Vegas from November 9-12, and our users will want to bring back as much information and memories back to the office (yes, I said office) as they can cram in their craniums, and there is a lot to be crammed. KronosWorks is the annual Kronos customer conference that not only provides users with education sessions, individual discussions with experts and executives, and endless networking opportunities with fellow users, but also hands on training workshops and labs.

Now, I am not saying that hands-on training is the best part of the conference, because believe me, everything about this conference is beneficial, but the benefits of training in front of your own demo environment, with an expert instructor is almost crazy to pass up. Which is why this year, we are introducing a track of sessions specifically for our Kronos Workforce Ready® customers with an emphasis on the hands-on training labs. So, What Are the Benefits of Hands-on Training? This training style increases retention from 20% to 75% while your critical thinking also greatly increases, allowing you to apply the training to your specific business.

I hear and I forget

I see and I remember

I do and I understand

Confucius

At Kronos, we don’t want to be the only experts of your workforce management solution – we want YOU to be your own expert too. We want our customers to be masters of workforce management, running the business as efficiently and effectively as possible – that’s what will put you ahead of the competition and allow your business to flourish.

So what are you waiting for? Register today and benefit from our early-bird specials!

Who Doesn’t Love the Marauders Map in Harry Potter?

July 14, 2014

Guest blog post by Melissa Tetreau, Product Marketing Manager at Kronos, Inc.

“This map shows everyone. Where they are, what they are doing, every minute of every day.”

I recently read an article posted on fastcolabs.com called How (And Why) To Hack Your Office With iBeacons. The article tells the story about how a Digital Advertising company, Huge, is beginning to use iBeacon technology in the workplace –for example “Being able to guide an employee or guest to a specific conference room could cut out a lot of wasted time.”

Throughout the article I kept wondering how there weren’t more documented cases like this. With such hot topics – location services and Harry Potter – how come more companies weren’t trying to make the magical Marauders Map a reality?

For the readers that are unfamiliar with the Harry Potter, allow me to explain the Marauders Map. The map is a magical map of Hogwarts – naturally. At first glance, it is simply a blank piece of parchment; but with a little magic it becomes a detailed layout of Hogwarts. The map displays the location of everyone within the castle and its grounds, and includes the location of passageways and instructions on how to access them. As a character in the movie simply states, “This map shows everyone. Where they are, what they are doing, every minute of every day.”

Unfortunately as common folk we do not have access to magic spells and wizardry, but we do have the ability to build great technology. As Kronos works to solve problems within the workforce management environment, this article gives great insight into how location services can be brought indoors. Tracking people, tracking supplies, and tracking rooms are all cases that could potential add value within companies willing to adopt this type of idea.

While tracking people may have a negative connotation, it opens doors for those people willing to see the bigger picture. “For example, if we gather the location data of all our employees, we can identify high and low traffic areas. That data could then be used to inform climate/lighting controls for specific areas, resulting in a more ‘green’ office.”

To read the full article – which I highly recommend – click on the article below:

How (And Why) To Hack Your Office With iBeacons

The Big Game(s)

July 8, 2014

Guest blog post by Jim Manfield, Product Marketing Manager at Kronos, Inc.

In the United States the Super Bowl is watched by millions and millions of people. Often at parties. And surprise, surprise, it lowers productivity on Super Bowl Monday, a day many wish was a national US holiday. For those who make it to work, much of the day is spent discussing the game with coworkers. Or swallowing advil. Many more call out sick, take a personal day, or don’t show up at all: http://www.kronos.com/SportsWorkBalance/ . The effects are clear and have been discussed in many forums on many occasions. Here’s an example: http://www.mrt.com/business/article_7ef95db5-650c-5f80-9b23-ec0cf1fdff37.html .

But what happens when your team plays in multiple big games?! We’re currently in the final stages of World Cup 2014. Germany, Brazil, Argentina and the Netherlands have made it to the semifinals. Do you think work has been affected in those countries?

Each team plays their 6th game in the last month in the semifinals. Assuming their fans have only watched their teams’ games (given what I know about futbol fans, I’m sure this is not the case), that’s at least 540 minutes (9 hours) of game action so far. I’m oversimplifying what with all the pre-game party time, half time, injury time, extra time, penalty kick time; that’s a lot of time! And in Germany and the Netherlands, given that the games have mostly taken place during the late night or early morning hours, I’m sure there have been plenty of absent or tired workers.

In Germany, they’re trying to accommodate their fans: http://www.thelocal.de/20140602/should-your-boss-let-you-come-in-later-in-world-cup . Maybe the same thing is happening in the other countries too. Regardless of the impact on productivity, how can a company handle these new “come-to-work-late” policies that might be in place for a month or so? Or continue to enforce no-show policies for those that are late or don’t show up after the games, or during the games? With an automated system of course: http://www.kronos.com/absence-management/absence-software.aspx !! A system designed to provide automated enforcement of any absence related policies.

Now if only it could make Super Bowl Monday a holiday!!!

Staffing for early Independence – Avoiding Arthur causes labor management crisis

July 3, 2014

Unpredictable weather has always been a factor in the northeast US. More often than not, the winter months are when New England especially is susceptible to weather-related interruptions of plans, traffic, school and work cancellations, etc. So when an early July hurricane unexpectedly comes barreling up the east coast, it’s a big deal. When it is scheduled to arrive on July 4th in Boston, you get a July 3 & 4, 2009 Boston July Forth Fireworks Spectacular Images by Jay Connordifferent type of fireworks…

Yesterday the city of Boston decided not to postpone its annual Independence Day celebration, which includes the outdoor concert by the Boston Pops Orchestra and massive fireworks display. Instead, the city decided yesterday, July 2nd to move the festivities up to today, July 3rd. What a nightmare for scheduling all of the labor needed to support the change.

  • Public works, city workers and vendors setting up for the tens of thousands of visitors for the fireworks lose an entire day of work, likely requiring overtime and additional staff
  • The police and transportation workers that are needed not only to support and provide security for the event but the logistics of managing the traffic. Most businesses are open in the city today (whereas many are closed on the 4th). Many roads are planned to be closed at noon today, likely causing nightmare traffic scenarios
  • The retail, dining and hospitality businesses who must also make drastic last minute schedule changes for the tourists and visitors coming in today, vs. tomorrow.schedule1

Automated scheduling can be a huge time savings here. On the fly schedule adjustments, identifying employee availability & potential restrictions, managing pending overtime costs efficiently with projected hours features are all benefits of a workforce management system with advanced labor scheduling. Even sending an “all hands on deck” text message to employees that can help fill shifts via a mobile phone is now a reality with these systems.

4th-of-july-in-boston-4So while Arthur may bring some rain tomorrow, Boston will celebrate our independence as usual. The Pops will play at the esplanade and the fireworks will light up the sky over the Charles River, thanks to the many workers scheduled to work extra hard to make it happen.

Happy 4th of July!

Kronos Compliance Court Now in Session at SHRM 2014

June 24, 2014

Guest blog post by Kristen Wylie, Product Marketing Manager at Kronos, Inc.

More than 14,000 HR professionals are gathered in Orlando this week for the annual SHRM Conference and Expo. As wage and hour lawsuits skyrocket, it’s no surprise that this year’s conference agenda includes more than 25 sessions focused exclusively on compliance. Here at the Kronos booth, we’re educating attendees on how workforce management solutions can help reduce compliance risk.

SHRM1Organizations of every size across every industry can be susceptible to wage and hour and other compliance violations. No company wants to be charged with criminal or legal suits. But labor laws are complex and frustratingly fluid, making it increasingly difficult to manage compliance. Consider this:

SHRM2No matter what the compliance issue, when an employee files a claim or an auditor shows up, you need to respond with confidence and speed. In our booth at the SHRM conference, we staged a “compliance court,” helping attendees to evaluate how prepared they would be for an audit or investigation:

  • Are you compliant with I-9 regulations?
  • How would you respond to an audit from the EEOC?
  • Can you ensure time cards are in accurate and complete reflection of actual hours worked?
  • What documentation do you have for your defense against wage and hour claims?
  • How will you address the variety of regulations presented by the affordable care act?
  • How do you gather enough detailed information to determine if an absence qualifies for FMLA?

Kronos Workforce Ready customer Pioneer Metal Finishing showed SHRM attendees how to successfully navigate our compliance court by being prepared with accurate workforce data. Disconnected software applications and manual processes for managing employee data – one system in HR, another in payroll, and another for time and attendance – mean your data may be out of sync and out of date. Pioneer explained that with Workforce Ready, organizations are better able to identify, monitor, and resolve compliance risk before issues have a chance to spark wildfires and result in fines or lawsuits.

What’s Your Mobile Strategy?

May 29, 2014

Guest blog post by Kristen Wylie, Product Marketing Manager at Kronos

Recently Kronos celebrated a corporate milestone: achieving $1 billion in revenue. CEO Aron Ain hosted a town hall employee meeting that reviewed, among other things, our product direction. Aron covered social collaboration, gamification and other recent and future product enhancements that will help us achieve the next billion dollars in revenue.

FitbitWhat’s driving our product vision? Our internal development efforts focus on product innovation, but we often explore the latest technology developments around us, and then adapt that technology for our own industry. Aron pointed to the FitBit (a wearable fitness device) on his wrist and explained that he and other Kronos executives were personally evaluating wearable devices to better understand their practical uses. He shared his belief that wearable devices hold great promise for workforce management utilization in the future.

By leveraging the latest technology, including consumer technology, we can more efficiently help our customers evolve the way their workforce interacts and connects with their organizations. According to Aaron, this forward-looking approach enables us to offer customers new capabilities before they even know they want it or need it!

A great example of this approach is our mobile apps. As HR industry analyst Josh Bersin noted in a Forbes contributed article a few months ago:

“It’s amazing how mobile computing snuck up on us. In the six years since the first iPhone was introduced the computing landscape radically changed. There are now four times as many mobile devices as PCs in the world, and more mobile phones than people in the US. … Why is this disruptive? Because HR buyers want software their employees will use. Mobile is becoming a critical buying criteria.”

tabletscreenMobile didn’t “sneak up” on Kronos because we were already aware of the market trend. Whether enterprises will actively roll out a mobile app or are preparing to meet the inevitable demand from employees for a mobile solution, Kronos is ready with a proven solution today. The Kronos Workforce Ready mobile application provides managers and employees with immediate, instant avenues to their workforce management solution, wherever they may be. This app, available for iPhone or Android devices, is a natural for companies whose people are frequently on the move, want to address common tasks quickly and easily on their mobile device of choice, and need to maintain productivity and functionality across the entire workforce management spectrum – from time and labor management to human resources, and payroll.

mobile graphAccording to the 2013 SMB Mobile Solutions study, a review of mobile usage by organizations with 50-1,000 employees from analysts at the SMB Group, 84% of small and mid-sized organizations already use mobile collaboration apps such as email, calendars and contacts. Many are also starting to use mobile apps for business-specific functions. In fact, 68% indicate that mobile solutions are “critical” to their organizations.

Mobile workforce solutions enable remote workers (sales, field service workers, home health aides, etc.) to enter timekeeping information and view schedule changes from anywhere, at any time via mobile devices. Employees working onsite but away from their desks at an office, factory, store or hospital can use mobile apps to process overtime requests, make time-off requests, adjust staffing, and perform other tasks in real time. Likewise, managers can manage scheduling and payroll when it’s most convenient.

What is your mobile strategy? In a recent webinar with Kronos covering the top technology game changers for workforce management, the SMB Group provided the following guidance for organizations as they prepare a mobile workforce management strategy:

  • Assess your current mobile readiness
  • Determine highest value mobile use cases for your business
  • Identify the types of employees and managers that need to use mobile apps
  • Select mobile apps that integrate seamlessly with your workforce management solution
  • Use partners as needed for mobile guidance, implementation, management and support
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