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The progression of workforce management in Canada

August 23, 2018
Posted in Resources
August 23, 2018 GraemeH

Workforce management solutions offer companies a way to increase productivity, reduce labor costs and accelerate business growth.

That said, adoption trends for workforce management solutions can vary significantly from region to region and country to country. This is largely influenced by the maturity of the market and how ‘ready and able’ businesses are to take advantage of the considerable efficiency gains available.

In the UK in support services delivery, as a concept ‘Workforce Management’ (WFM) is mature and it’s common for organisations to turn to workforce management systems to help them improve employee engagement, deliver a better customer experience and ultimately achieve their corporate goals. This has been driven by tougher trading conditions, significant competition and access to technology skills attracted to the UK economy. The UK’s adoption of WFM technology is estimated to be: In the other markets Innovise trades within, there are some notable differences and this is echoed by other organisations when surveying opinion.

When asked in which of these three phases of workforce management your organisation resides, a survey of Canadian businesses revealed the following1:

Operational versus tactical

Organisations in the tactical phase have generally incorporated the automation of workforce processes such as time and attendance management. However, those in the operational phase have taken this further to include scheduling, absence costing and workforce planning.

The next steps in the operational phase are to put more processes and tools in place to support and manage workforce-related activities including mobile access for employees, real-time insights into cost, productivity, overtime and absences. Another key factor for operations is the addition of forecasting software.

Interestingly, the most challenging workforce management activity in Canada was cited by 81% of respondents in a recent survey as: having access to real-time costs and productivity 1

Enabling strategic and informed decision making

The need for insights into real-time costs and productivity, coupled with the desire for accurate forecasting is a commercial imperative within leading guarding businesses in Canada. Demand is growing to view and interpret information instantly. The result of this is that key performance information is available while patterns and trends can be identified.

With easy-to-understand dashboards, graphical representations and evidence-based reports, Innovise’s solutions are used to control service delivery and maintain high levels of compliance with contract performance. The information they deliver lead to more strategic and informed decision making across an organisation.

Commonly used workforce management activities

It’s been revealed that the most commonly automated workforce management activities within Canadian organisations are1:

  • Electronic or web-based timesheets
  • Time data collection devices (clocks, PCs or mobile)
  • Configurable timekeeping rules to enforce time management policy

In Canada, these are often disjointed solutions that don’t connect centrally or offer any real insight into the operation of a contract, financial performance or SLA compliance. Canadian operations are investing significant amounts of time and effort trying to extract the necessary information which their peers across the Atlantic are able to achieve at the push of a button.

It seems obvious therefore that Canadian businesses should simply procure solutions like Timegate that are well established and offer significant time and money, as well as insight to their business, so why isn’t this happening?

To the earlier assessments we have shared, supporters of this technology within the Canadian security companies are not seeing this technology as offering strategic value. Only 5% of businesses understand the strategic value it can bring which probably explains why such a small number of organisations dominate the Canadian security market. In short, there is inadequate momentum but as the value is more widely understood, this strategic theme picks up pace quickly.

Similarly, the technology focus is on robotics and IoT. Guarding operations identify robotic alternatives to humans and remote services as the priority and it is crowding out wider investment both in terms of thinking and available budget. It is synergistic investment though. Technology of this type spurs wider investment in ‘people’ as all of this technology needs managing and so the workforce mix changes. The organisations who do not hire the requisite talent centrally cannot compete. This technology therefore requires you to hire more central people even if you are limiting or replacing the need to hire hourly paid workers.

An alternative view is that tight control over payroll costs and overheads will afford greater investment opportunity as well as ensuring waste within the organisation elsewhere has been minimized. A workforce management system will typically be positioned as saving a business 2-5% depending on the creativity of the vendor. Even if it saves your corporation 0.5% of payroll let alone turnover, it will be freeing almost all the necessary money to execute enterprise change to move to or integrate robotics and other technology.

The future

Innovise are projecting a tougher set of conditions for Canadian guarding operations. We are not alone in this view so we will not provide an expansive opinion in this article, but we do think that as the market consolidates and conditions toughen further for Canadian service providers, this attitude to investing in WFM solutions will change very quickly. The functionality in tools like Timegate eliminate the overheads associated with manual processes for time-sheeting and processing. By driving automation and governance through a rules-based engine, Timegate helps drive up profitability.

A complete workforce management solution

The more automation you can introduce the bigger the benefits. From pre-employment through to payroll, Canadian businesses use a myriad of solutions, if they are disjointed or poorly integrated they are not offering you the automation and indeed may be less efficient or higher risk than a manual process.

To really identify savings as a guarding operation, consider the entire employee life cycle. Now consider the turnover of staff. Maybe you don’t know your attrition rates and what this is currently costing you? If you don’t you should. The costs associated with finding, hiring and losing employees are material and invariably they are the statistics that distinguish the winners and losers in the market place.

UK organisations work with Innovise to determine people-centric solutions; not just addressing this facet of WFM but also those which are empowering and engaging employees making it easier to find talent and bring it on board, and importantly to retain talent. Whilst working for you, they will be more productive and help you retain your clients as well as meet all of your contractual obligations. All of this is readily available within Timegate and is easy to implement.

What will change?

A common view amongst many market commentators in Canada, and as shared by Innovise above, is that tougher trading conditions are upon us. In such times the weak will not survive.

“It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”

Warren Buffett2.

Weak doesn’t mean small. Weak means badly organised, inefficient and in the context of a service sector, with clients and employees that don’t offer loyalty because it’s not deserved. There is time to change this. This is the time to act.

What are some of the risks? It is no surprise that south of the border, US organisations are seeing similar challenges but Innovise believe that the bad news here is that US organisations are ahead of our Canadian friends with this type of technology and thinking. Innovise believe US companies will venture north and acquire in Canada and will compete aggressively in the market. We also think Canadian guarding companies, if not made aware, would fail to respond to this in time. Similarly, we believe this is a 3 to 5 year event horizon, which is very short-term for this type of change.

Our commitment to Canada is that we won’t leave this unaddressed and we will be working to help organisations like yours understand what they can do; by demonstrating our tools, discussing your initiatives and helping you find out what you can do to remain competitive and see out the storm.

About Innovise

Innovise is a leading facilities management software supplier to companies across the globe including Canada, the US and UK. With offices in Canada and the UK, we help enterprises to achieve more with software built specifically for the facilities management and support services industries.

Our core platforms help businesses deliver significant reductions in the cost of operations and our global clients include ISS, Sodexo, Compass, G4S, Securitas, Aramark, Corp Security, Armourguard and Emcor.

To find out more about how Innovise can help your organisation contact us on +1 (0) 289-205-1000
Sources: 1Kronos: Canadian Trends in Workforce Management 2 Warren Edward Buffett is an American investor, industrialist and philanthropist. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world.