Faced with shrinking profit margins, demand volatility, faster turnaround times, capacity or skills gaps, and other market dynamics, today’s distribution and supply chain management (SCM) companies can increase throughput and productivity with a strong engagement strategy.
You may be thinking that employee engagement is a fleeting buzzword, or worse, a difficult strategy to execute. Yet to look at it another way – are you accidently disengaging your workforce? And if you are, could you be putting yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to achieving your goals?
Ultimately, your employees power your supply chain and having the right business technology solutions and processes can make your employees happier, more productive, and less likely to miss work or leave the company altogether. Because people are so important, this article will describe ways to avoid disengaging your workforce as well as highlight four best practices any organization can follow to create a more engaged – and effective – workforce.
The importance of employee engagement
Why should you care about employee engagement? More specifically, why is a concept that may seem to be just a “nice-to-have” item on leadership’s wish list really such a smart strategy for your business?
A closer look at various research findings shows why employee engagement can become a new competitive advantage:
- Organizations with highly engaged employees experience 22% greater productivity, according to the Harvard Business Review.
- Companies with sustained levels of employee engagement have shown operating margins three times higher than those of companies with the lowest levels of engagement, according to WillisTowersWatson.
- Higher engagement and retention have been proven to contribute to culture of mission and purpose, Deloitte said.
As compelling as these results are, it may surprise you to learn that a sizeable gap exists between the goal of engaging the workforce and where most companies stand today. For example, a recent Gallup poll revealed that only 32% of U.S. workers say they are engaged, nearly 51% t report that they are not engaged, and over 17% state that they are actively disengaged. As a result, these organizations fall short in reaping the full business benefits employee engagement can deliver. Ouch.
Four ways to truly engage your workforce
But if the old adage is true, every challenge really is an opportunity in disguise. This means distribution and SCM companies have a great chance to improve employee engagement – and get a leg up on the competition.
One extremely effective way to achieve this goal is with workforce management technology. Consisting of solutions related to scheduling, time and attendance, absence and leave, analytics, and more, workforce management helps organizations improve the way they manage, motivate, and retain a high-performing workforce.
Workforce management is so valuable because it addresses inefficient, manual processes that could be contributing to a disengaged workforce. For example, consider paper-based time and attendance processes that don’t let employees see how much time they have off. Or scheduling practices that don’t let workers view shifts, request changes, or balance their preferences. Unfortunately, these approaches may inadvertently disengage employees and lead to low morale, decreased productivity, and turnover.
When it comes to increasing employee engagement, workforce management can help distribution and SCM companies achieve this goal – as well as several better business outcomes – in four important ways: scheduling, self-service, mobile technology, and absence/leave management.
- Scheduling: Effective scheduling solutions do so much more than simply automate once-manual processes. They provide advanced capabilities such as shift swapping, selecting shift preferences and availability, and even self-scheduling. All of this goes a long way to keeping employee morale high and creating a more satisfied, engaged workforce.
- Self-service access: In addition, distribution and SCM companies can use workforce management technology to provide employees with real-time access and control over information related to HR, benefits, payroll, schedules, and leave balances. Such access improves productivity, minimizes turnover, and even helps avoid grievances or legal action.
- Mobile solutions: Companies can also “extend” these same self-service capabilities to employees’ mobile devices, providing anywhere-anytime access to real-time information and personalized data – wherever and however employees prefer.
- Absence management: With solutions focused on absence and leave, employees can manage sick time, vacation time, late arrivals, and more with full visibility, all in one place. Plus, these solutions streamline complex labor laws, helping your organization stay compliant while reducing time-consuming administrative tasks.
The right business technology solutions for the right results
As you plan for a more effective, results-oriented 2017, don’t search too far for radical solutions that may or may not address existing your challenges. Instead, make sure you’re not inadvertently disengaging your workforce and focus on ways to optimized key elements related to people, process, and technology to truly engage and empower employees. And when you do, you’ll put yourself in a better position to achieve superior business results while gaining a new – and sustainable competitive edge.
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