2023 Trends in Workforce Management
The latest trends in WFM are heavily influenced by digital transformation and the advancement of technology, with more and more companies leveraging technology to automate manual processes and optimize the workflow.
Developments relating to human focused elements are equally as important this year. Employees are the lifeblood of any organization and more employers are recognizing the importance of their wellbeing, engagement, and opportunities for development.
With that in mind, below are some of the most popular workforce management trends for 2023.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence in Workforce Management
Automation is transforming the way companies manage their workforce, with AI and Machine Learning advancing things further. In fact, market research company IDC have predicted that the global AI market will exceed more than half a trillion USD by 2024.
The best workforce management software today enables various elements of daily operations to be automated, significantly saving on valuable resources, and this is essential in the current economic climate.
While the trajectory in retail spending has improved steadily since the height of the pandemic, October 2022 saw a sudden decline of 1.8% in the euro area and 1.7% in the EU compared to the figures from September. Austria, Croatia and Belgium were the countries hardest hit.
Research by McKinsey shows that 58% of European consumers cite rising costs as the main worry, and 43% are doubtful about economic recovery. In addition, almost 40% have reduced spending on non-essentials and almost 70% have said they will shop less or not at all in the near future.
With revenues at risk, it is vital to use tools that make WFM more efficient and save costs.
Automating Manual Processes
Automation is possible with WFM software and can be used to speed up many manual processes in payroll, attendance tracking, compliance, report generation, and other areas.
This reduces the time and effort required to complete tasks and improve employees’ experience, as common sources of frustration (i.e., repeating the same tasks over and over) are eliminated. It also frees up their time to contribute to higher level objectives.
Chatbots are not only for customer service; their use for internal purposes is on the rise. AI-powered chatbots can be used to answer employee queries, provide feedback, and offer personalized advice, ultimately helping to improve engagement and productivity.
AI in Recruiting
More companies are using AI for parts of the recruitment process. AI-powered recruitment systems can scan through large numbers of resumes quickly and effectively, looking for key words that match the job description and filtering based on criteria such as education requirements.
They can also be set up to alert recruiters when a suitable candidate applies, making it easier to find the right person for the job, and they can automate the assessment and interview processes.
Companies are leveraging analytics to gain insights into the workforce and make fast, data-driven decisions in many areas of WFM. By 2029, the big data analytics market is projected to exceed $655 billion, an increase of $455 billion from its value in 2021.
WFM analytics can use attendance and scheduling data to handle labor shortages by reporting on key variables such as overtime or unstaffed shifts in order to optimize shift allocation. This is especially important when managing hourly workers due to the high churn rate among this population.
A recent survey revealed that one third of European employees are planning to quit their jobs in the near future, and since staff turnover in retail has historically been high, this is cause for concern. Affected companies may therefore need to rely on WFM tools to optimize staff allocation (and automation to help make up for the vacant roles).
Below are some other examples of the use of analytics.
Wide-scale trends become visible thanks to analytics, such as patterns in employee sickness, as well as which skills are in demand and which roles need to be filled. There are many ways to use these insight, including the optimization of employee scheduling and resource allocation.
Analytics can predict all manner of things based on historical data, helping with practices such as scheduling and scenario planning. Even data about employees’ behavior, gestures and emotions is used to make predictions about their future actions.
The area of people analytics includes everything from performance management to the predictive example mentioned above. It assists with human capital development and reduces the risk of churn, so it’s no surprise that 70% of executives have stated that it’s a top priority.
As beneficial as these technologies can be, there’s likely to be more red tape involved as regulations are introduced on ethical grounds. For example, a new law was introduced in New York City that requires organizations to have annual bias audits, as well as disclose their hiring metrics publicly. Time will tell as to what other regions will be affected.
Prioritizing Wellbeing and Employee Engagement
Organizations are more aware than ever about the importance of wellbeing and how it impacts productivity. We have already seen big changes in this area throughout the pandemic, and this trend is only going to grow.
In one survey, 84% of respondents stated that at least one workplace factor had a negative impact on their mental health, and 81% said that in future, they would look for workplaces that support mental health. Organizations must therefore meet this demand.
As mentioned, technology helps by providing personalized feedback and promoting collaboration. It also helps to automate the performance review process, making it easier for employees to get the feedback they need. Below are some more tactics we can expect to increase over the coming year.
There is a lot already being done in this respect. Promoting work-life balance is vital since employees expect to be treated like humans rather than machines. That’s why flexible working hours remain popular, allowing employees to manage their work and personal commitments more effectively – something that any parent needs.
Microsoft recently introduced a policy of ‘unlimited’ time off for its salaried workers in the US, where employees no longer have to officially record vacation time. They are also offering additional leave for sickness, mental health, and jury duty.
Policies like this communicate to employees that they are trusted, and Microsoft will likely reap the benefits.
Workforce management solutions make it much easier to adapt to these wide-scale changes. Our workforce software supports flexible hours and distributed teams.
Addressing HR Burnout
Due to all the pressure that HR staff have undergone throughout the turbulent times of the pandemic, burnout and exhaustion is now extremely common. According to SHRM, 42% of HR teams are struggling as a result of excessive responsibilities; it appears that while HR staff have been looking after everyone else, their own wellbeing has been neglected.
Organizations will be seeking to address this now that the global situation has stabilized. SHRM also reported that Darcy Gruttadaro, director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health, stated that 70% of the responsibility for managing burnout lies with the organization and not the individual.
Proactive rest involves taking breaks throughout the day to maintain productivity, morale, and mental well-being. Some employees choose to spend that time on stretching, in meditation, or simply talking a walk. Its purpose is to re-energize them, boosting their focus and productivity throughout the day.
Gartner state that for rest to be ‘proactive’, it must be available, meaning that there are a broad range of options for rest. It must also be accessible, meaning that employees are encouraged to make the most of it without guilt; and finally, it must be appropriate i.e., it must meet individual needs.
Gartner reported that when rest is ‘available, accessible, and effective’, employee performance increases by 26%.
Improved Learning and Development Opportunities
Naturally, engagement and wellbeing go hand in hand. Learning and Development is therefore becoming a priority area. Employees need to be given opportunities to learn and develop their skills and if they do not have those opportunities, they will look elsewhere.
Various sources state that investment in L&D is increasing in large organizations, but concerns about the effectiveness of training persist.
Recruiting and Retention Trends
As mentioned, technology is increasingly used to streamline the recruitment process and more investment is going into L&D. What other trends are emerging in this area?
Skills Based Hiring
First of all, organizations are moving away from looking at qualifications as a top priority, with skills based hiring increasing instead. The individual’s potential, skills and values are becoming major factors that employers look for, and therefore, organizations are looking to hire employees from non-traditional backgrounds more frequently.
A UK-based analysis has shown that pay differences between employees with a bachelor’s degree and those without are minimal in many cases, and there are many roles in which individuals without a degree can earn equal to or more than those who have one. An added benefit of this approach is that it provides more opportunities to those from disadvantaged backgrounds, so that they may be judged based on merit.
Reallocating Existing Employees
Given the recession, having the option to reallocate employees to other tasks helps optimize the existing workforce. Of course, this is cheaper than hiring new employees to fill the gap, but it also prevents them from feeling stagnant in their roles, thus boosting retention.
Using ESG Reporting to Attract Candidates
Just as organizations demonstrate their values for marketing purposes in order to connect with their customer base, the same is happening when seeking talent. Forbes has suggested that businesses will start using environmental, social, and governance reporting as a tool to attract talent whose values align with that of the company.
Cloud Based Workforce Management Tools
To best manage HR processes, a workforce management solution needs to be cloud based. There are many benefits to such systems, which is why the market is due to grow over the coming year. In fact, Gartner predicted that in 2023, 99% of new sales of WFM software would be of cloud based solutions. This is partly driven by a ransomware attack that struck a prominent HR company in 2021, compromising the data of millions of employees. The response was to migrate to the cloud due to the risk that legacy systems pose, and many other organizations are following suit.
To summarize, automation technologies including AI and analytics continue to gain traction with both markets projected to grow phenomenally in the years to come. Any tool that can automate repetitive tasks has the potential to greatly reduce costs, while freeing up employees’ time so they can work on more meaningful and creative tasks.
Wellbeing continues to be a top priority and employees now expect organizations to accommodate their needs around mental health and overall wellbeing. HR burnout is a big problem that needs addressing, and proactive rest is one way to help overworked employees move through their days more easily.
Finally, new recruitment trends include the transition to skills based hiring, upskilling employees in order to reallocate them to high priority tasks, and using ESG reporting to attract candidates with shared values.
We are the leading provider of enterprise workforce management software, helping organizations around the world increase employee productivity by having the right people at the right time against the right costs. Contact us today to discover how our cloud based solutions reduce the workload of payroll management, time and attendance tracking, compensation management, labor scheduling, task management, and much more.