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How CEOs can Leverage Technology to Optimize their Workforce Management

Technology can have a big impact on reducing inefficiencies and driving productivity in the workforce in virtually any sector. Yet many organizations are not fully tapping the potential of technology to strengthen their workforce.

A survey by Korn Ferry found that many chief executives have a lack of confidence in the people in their organizations, while putting a higher value on technology and tangible assets. More than 60% surveyed said technology would be the firm’s greatest source of competitive advantage in the next five years, while almost 70% said this technology will soon create greater value than people will.

Jean-Marc Laouchez, Global Managing Director of Solutions at Korn Ferry, said leaders can have a “tangibility bias” that encourages them to prioritize thinking, planning and execution on tangible assets rather than people. This could become a barrier for progress in a world of complex and dynamic changes in the workforce. “Soft skills such as the ability to lead and manage culture, will become critical factors of success for companies in the future of work as they need to maximize their value through people,” said Laouchez.

Organizations can use new technologies not only to optimize processes, but also to optimize their human capital. Advanced HR departments are now using analytics at the C-suite level to optimize human potential and labor through precise scheduling and understanding employee motivations. They’re also testing new organizational structures and philosophies around management. CEOs should take a stronger role in optimizing their workforce management by supporting initiatives and directing capital to the appropriate investments.

Timothy Manhardt, practice manager at Kronos, said leaders should look to automation, accessibility and education as primary drivers of improvement and optimization. Businesses also can tap into new solutions to deliver work-related information directly to the smartphones of employees. Mobile self-service tools also can boost engagement tools and enable employees to have more ownership in daily decisions. The key is to leverage technology not for the sake of technology, but to enable people.

“OPTIMIZATION ISN’T JUST ABOUT TECHNOLOGY, IT’S MORE ABOUT SUPPORTING THE PEOPLE WHO USE THE TECHNOLOGY.”

“Optimization isn’t just about technology, it is more about supporting the people who use the technology…Combining systems, processes and people to achieve meaningful change, especially when the intended outcome is to improve productivity and support employee engagement, is a complex task that must be nurtured,” said Manhardt.

Meghan Biro, CEO of recruitment site TalentCulture, said technology can have a profound impact on productivity with real-time communication across devices, and easy tools for collaboration and sharing data. Due to an increasingly mobile and remote workforce, more companies are investing in technologies that allow virtual team members to stay better connected on a more reliable and secure level.

Big Data and workforce analytics also are helping organizations foster stronger employee engagement and productivity. Instead of relying on their HR personnel to report on employee triggers, new solutions designed by analytics professionals and data scientists help companies understand how to interpret the data and take some of the guesswork out of HR. “Businesses have the data on hand to better understand employee’s behavior, motivations, successes and concerns. The challenge is to learn how to interpret the data that’s collected,” said Biro.

Leveraging technology to optimize workforce management may may require CEOs to influence some changes in organizational structure. Biro says with the growing millennial workforce, there are more flat organizations with little hierarchy where “managing up” is part of the workforce management system.

“It is clear that large, slow moving, siloed organizations are susceptible to disruption—and they may never see it coming. Companies that embrace a more streamlined, fast-moving culture already are reaping the benefits,” said Biro.

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About Craig Guillot

Craig Guillot
Craig Guillot is a business writer based in New Orleans, La. His work has appeared in Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, CNNMoney.com and CNBC.com. You can read more about his work at www.craigdguillot.com.