One constant theme in any conversation about improving employee experience is the need to create a culture in which frequent, open, and relevant conversations are happening between employees and their leaders. Equally important is to create a work environment, enabled with the right infrastructure, that makes it easy for employees to collaborate with each other.
For many organizations, one of the challenges to making this happen is the increasing extent to which their employees may be working virtually some or all the time. Managers may only see employees in person occasionally. Coworker relationships are built and maintained via phone, email, texts, and video chats. Holding a team meeting to communicate important news has moved from the cafeteria to real time online streaming platforms. As a result, technology solutions to enable employee communications have become a critical part of organizational IT infrastructure.
For employers, there is good news and bad news when it comes to technology solutions to provide their employees with real time and easy to access information. The good news is that there are lots of tools in the marketplace to choose from for knowledge management, document management, video chats, meeting management, voice over IP, online communities, etc. These tools all play an important role in enabling more efficient communication and better collaboration between people. The bad news is that the proliferation of these technologies in the typical organization can cause even more employee frustration and confusion if the solutions are deployed in a way that makes it difficult for the employee to determine how to access the information or process what they need when they need it. Single sign on is nice, but it’s still a pain to jump between different environments when you have a quick task to perform.
At Kronos, we are in the position of being both users and developers of technology that is intended to make it easier for employees to be productive. As a result, we’re particularly sensitive to the need to help employees work their way by paying attention to how few clicks we can put between employees and their goal when engaging with our technology.
That human design orientation applies to the technology we build, the technology we buy for our own use, and the choice of the technology partners we choose to extend our functionality. To that end, Kronos has collaborated with Microsoft to provide an integration between Workforce Dimensions by Kronos and Microsoft Teams, the hub for teamwork in Microsoft Office 365.
This integration will enable employees and their managers to easily and more quickly accomplish common Kronos transactions such as requesting time off while they are operating within the Teams platform – or within Microsoft Outlook – from a laptop or mobile device. Employees can utilize a chatbot to perform tasks such as checking their paid time off balances, requesting time-off, or checking their schedules.
Managers can leverage the artificial intelligence capabilities of Workforce Dimensions to evaluate time-off requests based on staffing demand, accrual balances, skills and certifications, compliance, and other key variables. They can ask the chatbot if everyone has clocked in or where an employee may be working on a particular day. Managers can extend the power of the integration by using a Microsoft Power BI connector that empowers them to combine workforce data with operational data, such as safety or productivity, to simplify data exploration and create high impact visualizations that identify and illustrate underlying trends in real-time.
For organizations using Teams for collaboration and Kronos for their workforce management, it just became a little easier to manage folks’ requests for flexibility. One small step for chatbots, one giant leap for employee experience.