The definition of workforce readiness changed due to COVID-19. In order to keep employees and customers safe, businesses were forced to alter what, how, and when work got done. First, workforces muddled through the initial lockdowns and closures. The next stage was to adapt to the disruptive realities. Everyone had to find ways to get on with business with health and safety in mind. As a result, mobile apps became a huge factor in helping maintain a productive and ready workforce throughout the pandemic. Today, workforce ready apps continue to be critical for communication and engagement in a variety of workplace settings.
Below, we offer suggestions for maintaining a ready workforce through 2021.
Workforce Readiness, Redefined
The past year saw a huge increase in the adoption of contactless procedures, from remote work to contactless clock-ins to online ordering. In many cases, this meant learning new ways of engaging in day-to-day work. In 2019, you might have been a front of house server; today, you’re running deliveries for the restaurant’s ghost kitchen.
As a result of these new realities, companies have had to provide costly resources, training, and support to their employees. Mobile apps and cross-training have become more important than ever, both internally for workforce management but also externally for attracting and keeping customers. These are trends that continue today, and which aren’t likely to let up anytime soon – if ever. Norms and expectations have changed.
Technology has been critical for business continuity between departments, across physical distances, and even across different time zones. To be considered workforce ready, employees are now expected to adopt technologies such as mobile chat and messaging apps. Flexibility, adaptability, and a willingness to learn new job roles are likewise important traits in this new normal. Those with a poor attitude toward learning aren’t likely to get very far. On the other hand, employees and leaders who embrace change are likely to do quite well.
Maintaining a Ready Workforce Throughout Change
If you’re in the restaurant or grocery business, chances are good that you’re doing more of your business online than you were just a year ago. You may even have some employees who work remotely, but most of your workforce likely works on-site. You may or may not use contactless clock-in or remote messaging apps.
With these things in mind, below are some actions to consider in order to maintain a ready workforce through 2021 and beyond.
Policies and Procedures
- Keep evaluating which critical employees need to come to work versus those who can work remotely. You may need to adjust these policies as the pandemic and its severity and impact lessens. Do you have a plan in place yet for having everyone return to work?
- Explore new ways to measure effectiveness of remote work, part-time work, employee productivity, and engagement. You may want to consider team building activities to bring your workforce together after the difficulties of COVID.
- Your human resource priority areas will need to be updated as the situation evolves. Now’s the time to consider vaccination plans and benefits for your employees, if you haven’t already. For example, some companies are allowing workers to get the vaccine on company time.
- Many companies plan to support remote work through 2021 to reduce on-site burdens and protect employee and customer safety while vaccines are distributed. Do your employees know what to expect?
- If you intend to continue remote work through the end of the year, develop a “Dos” and “Don’ts” guide for remote workers, especially for any new staff you might need to bring on during this time. Make sure they feel like a part of the team and give them plenty of resources and guidance new employee orientation.
- Consider setting up a formal digital upskilling program on all aspects of remote work, based on what you’ve learned thus far. In this new normal, some employees may expect the option to work remotely through 2021 and beyond.
Workforce Ready Apps and Technologies
- As more of your employees return to the workplace, consider how you can use your existing technologies to support their safety and well-being. For example, does your corporate office support contactless clock-ins? Even if you don’t use mobile clock-in for your grocery staff, it might make sense to employ it at your corporate office.
- It’s not too late to invest in and reap the benefits of remote work technologies, software, or platforms, especially those that focus on team execution and team communication. They need to be secure, efficient, and easy to adopt. They should also suit your business needs over the long term.
- As employees return to work, make sure your managers aren’t stuck in a back office drafting schedules. AI-driven employee scheduling can keep managers on the floor, where they can support your workforce and help keep customers happy. With mobile apps, managers can monitor sales and labor from anywhere.
- If you’re in state with fair workweek or special COVID-19 laws, you’re likely drowning in paperwork. The right software can help you deal with these things proactively, so that you can prevent non-compliance from ever happening in the first place.
Mobile Apps for a Ready Workforce
These days, mobile apps are becoming an indispensable part of workforce management. Not only are employees expected to utilize mobile devices and kiosks for their everyday jobs, but more and more are coming to expect certain conveniences, too. The ability to request time off from their phone or swap shifts online, for example, can mean all the difference to hourly workers. If you don’t already have an online system that allows employees to request time off, swap shifts, or even pick up shifts at nearby locations, you’re behind the curve. You should also strongly consider switching to a WFM system that seamlessly integrates online document storage (for things like certification compliance) with data-driven schedules and employee timecards.
With TimeForge, you get all of the above and more. Our human resources tools allow you to quickly disseminate policy documents and collect signatures, while our mobile apps allow easy team communication to keep staff and management on the same page. You get perfect, AI-engineered schedules in mere minutes, all supported by fair workweek and labor compliance features that proactively alert you to help you avoid penalties and keep your labor expenses under control.
Next up: get tips for making sure your workforce is ready for recovery.