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Technology-driven strategies to reduce rostering and payroll complexity 

20 Jul 2020

Article by Ceridian’s Head of Asia Pacific & Japan, Stephen Moore.

The complexity of workforce planning has likely intensified for Australian companies due to COVID-19. In macro terms, organisations must adapt to new and rapidly changing regulations while continuing to meet existing government requirements while, at a micro level, managing employee scheduling complexity in a semi-virtualised world. All while keeping costs down.

One constant which applies pre, during and post the global pandemic is that an employee’s experience with pay directly impacts how they feel about working for their employer. 

According to research from Ceridian’s 2019 report on the Australian pay experience, 41% of employees felt issues with salary or pay was a main driver of workplace dissatisfaction. 

This would indicate it’s important that organisations find a streamlined way to pay and empower their workforces whilst balancing the plethora of change impacting the business. 

Prior to COVID-19, many industry sectors - notably retail and hospitality - faced challenges with workforce rostering and labour spend. According to Nucleus Research, organisations using manual scheduling processes increased labour costs by 2 to 8% due to unintentional schedule padding prior to COVID-19. 

As Australian organisations start to welcome their employees back to the physical workplace, it’s critical for employers to track, manage, and gain greater control over when and where people are working, both to manage costs and to avoid overloading employee’s rosters and sacrificing customer experience.

Automation can help organisations work smarter - assisting with rostering and predictively analysing work, demand and task assignment, whilst providing the data necessary to help make better decisions crucial to business revenue and growth. 

These decisions would typically benefit time available for more strategic pursuits, as well as furthering company culture and employee retention.

Employers should look to technology-driven strategies to help them to remain compliant to rapidly changing government regulatory frameworks as well as support and predict emerging workforce needs, while optimising efficiency and labour spend. 

These strategies include:

Adopting a data-driven model to forecast and plan for demand 

Employers can use historical data and apply predictive analytical capability to more accurately forecast staffing needs and ensure the right people are assigned to the right tasks. 
 
This level of predictability will minimise potential scheduling risks by allowing managers to align assigned labour with demand within proven and compliant operational parameters. 
 

Gain greater control of unplanned hours

Organisations can better manage rostering by tracking employee hours worked to avoid unnecessary overtime. 

Advanced workforce rostering technology can auto-schedule the entire workforce, considering pay rates, available hours, tenure, skills, etc. to build optimal rosters to help avoid overtime and unforeseen penalty rate expense. Having timely visibility to monitor trends can help to control, and often reduce, costs.
 

Automate rostering 

Automation can assist with accurate planning and scheduling to alleviate the amount of time managers spend on building out rosters. 

Time previously spent on this task can be refocused to critical activities such as training and coaching employees and identifying opportunities to improve productivity. Schedule integrity and award compliance is built into the automation algorithms.
 

Provide self-service rostering options

According to Gallup, empowering people to have greater control over their work lives can lead to a 21% increase in profitability and 59% less turnover.  

With remote or distributed workforces, it’s even more important now for employees to have convenient access to rosters, the ability to swap shifts, update their availability, and submit leave requests, with minimal interaction from managers.

Mobile rostering underpinned by a compliant rules engine gives employees more control over this and saves both the time and cost of management involvement. 
 

Stay on top of rostering and payroll compliance

Organisations need to operate within the evolving directives set out by government. For example, in July metropolitan Victoria returned to stage three pandemic restrictions, which meant businesses had to quickly revert to early-pandemic ways of operating. 

Technology can enable businesses to scale up or scale down as necessary, as well as alert managers of discrepancies and inherent inefficiencies such as having too many employees scheduled at any given time.
 

Improve payroll accuracy 

One of the most critical activities, and sometimes most difficult, is ensuring employees are paid correctly, and on time. 

Advanced payroll systems utilise compliant feeds from workforce systems such as award interpretation engines, and apply continuous calculations, enabling payroll administrators to access their data throughout the pay period. This gives them more time for reviews and audits, ensuring less rework and greater accuracy. 
 

Task management and identifying business-critical tasks

Weaving task management into labour planning and rostering will ensure employers have the right number of hours allocated to complete a task. 

At the same time, it is important to ensure that only employees with the right skills will be performing the right job. Better task-level insights will also help managers understand where the gaps are in order to improve efficiencies and put renewed focus on more business-critical tasks.

At a time of labour market volatility and high workforce stress, it is essential that companies look to employ intelligent technology and management strategies to drive efficiencies and control costs. Failure to do so will put such organisations at competitive risk.