Thank you to our board member, Bob Clements, for today’s guest post. Bob is a senior vice president at Axsium, and spends a great deal of his time consulting with organizations about their workforce management (WFM) strategy. Below, Bob talks about the benefits of extending WFM technology to employees’ phones. This capability exists in lots of WFM platforms, including Kronos, but some organizations are still leery. What about yours?
We are obsessed with our mobile phones. Just about everybody – regardless of age, income or occupation – has a phone in their pocket or purse that we use to check a text from a friend, answer an email, play a game, find the answer to a trivia question…you name it, we have an app for it, and we will find any excuse to use it. In fact, a 2013 study found that we check our phones 150 times per day!
Yet, as widespread as mobile phones are and as big of an impact as they have on our daily lives, most hourly workers are forcibly still living in the dark ages when it comes to using their mobile phone to manage their work-life. Want time-off? Write it down on a piece of paper and hand it to your manager. Hopefully, he or she can read your handwriting and won’t lose it. Don’t know when your next shift is? Call your workplace, get someone to stop working, and have them read your schedule off the wall. Need to find someone to cover a shift for you? Good luck!
Why does this situation still exist? Hourly employees have mobile phones. In fact, if asked – and many employers do via employee engagement surveys– most hourly employees would love to have the ability to use those phones to check their schedules, review their timesheets, request time-off, swap shifts with colleagues and more. Workforce management (WFM) vendors have offered support for mobile phones for the last several years. The ability to offer mobile WFM is already in the systems most employers have today; it just isn’t being used.
Hourly employees are in the dark ages because their employers are afraid. In the world of wage and hour litigation, mobile phones are scary. A few years ago, an hourly assistant for Oprah Winfrey collected $32,000 in overtime because she used her cell phone to take calls and answer email after hours. More recently, a Chicago police officer brought a lawsuit against the city for time spent answering calls and emails after hours on his mobile phone.
Given these cases and others like them, many employers have refused to consider letting their hourly employees use their mobile phone for anything that touches a corporate system for fear that it could be considered work. For some systems, this makes sense. However, for others, mobile interaction is for the convenience of the employee and should be embraced by employers. WFM is one of these systems.
Today, employees check their schedule by calling their workplace or write time-off requests on a slip of paper. Such activities require an insignificant amount of time, occur infrequently, and are initiated by the employee, not the employer, and are not considered work.
Changing the medium from voice or written communication to a mobile app does not change the nature of the activity. Checking a schedule or requesting time off does not become work just because someone uses a mobile phone to do it. On the contrary, a mobile WFM app is a convenience – a benefit – for employees as it makes things like checking a schedule faster and eliminates the chances that their manager will lose the slip of paper with their time-off request. In fact, embracing mobile WFM empowers employees to take a more active role in their schedule. This gives them more control of their work-life balance, leading to better employee engagement and a happier workforce.
To overcome the fear of mobile WFM, the missing ingredient for most employers is a policy that governs the use of mobile phones. This policy does not have to be long or complex. In fact, it should be as short and simple as possible. It needs to clearly communicate what mobile phones may and may not be used for at work and after hours as it relates to corporate systems.
With a clear policy and technology that most already have in house, employers can bring their hourly employees out of the dark ages and put their schedules in the palm of their hands which is exactly what hourly employees are asking for.