Operations teams are often the unsung heroes of their organisations with their remit encompassing an incredibly broad scope, covering everything to on-site security to the provisioning of office space and equipment. Operations management deals with the beating heart of organisations- literally the things which determine daily operational efficiency and the smooth running of the business. Whilst specific operations roles will be determined by the industry an organisation operates in, operations personnel all must deal with common themes of efficiency, security and procurement.
With Operations professionals playing such a vital role in the day-to-day running of businesses, it’s surely common sense that the systems and technologies you rely upon daily must be aligned to help you achieve your goals.
Unfortunately, the impact of inefficient or outdated people management processes are often overlooked from an operations perspective. Even when organisations take stock of their people management solutions and embark on projects of digital transformation, Operations is a voice which is rarely brought to the table.
In this blog, we explore a few of the major impacts poor people management processes can have on your operations function and why a specific focus on how these challenges manifest for those teams will be vital for the long-term health of your people-led and overall business strategies.
Operations is often closely linked with security and the flow of personnel throughout a site. In organisations such as those in the manufacturing sector which tend to deal with high head counts of staff and a reliance on temporary agency workers, it is absolutely vital to have an understanding of who can access worksites and how.
In large organisations, it is also commonplace to have manufacturing or distribution sites connected to main office blocks or areas of other disciplines such as design or R&D departments which may be of a more sensitive nature. To ensure adequate levels of security, it may be important to restrict employee access to relevant areas.
Your time and attendance processes play a huge part in ensuring high levels of security throughout your organisation, largely through the use of biometric or key-card access control points. Unfortunately, too many businesses are reliant on manual processes such as paper-based time sheets or guestbooks for tracking the flow of people in and out of the premises. Not only does this mean there is a lack of accuracy and integrity with the tracking of hours worked, but these processes are also easily circumvented by those who wish to avoid scrutiny by security. These breaches open organisations up to serious incidences of theft of data breaches and even worse- can represent a serious safeguarding threat for your people.
Security breaches offer a safeguarding threat to your people but can also lead to compromises in NDAs or the leaking of sensitive information, the repercussions of which will fall most heavily on operations and security teamTime and attendance processes often suffer from a reputation as a draconian, micro managing function but in fact, these processes form the backbone of your ongoing security processes and the safeguarding of your workforce. Time and attendance is a key people management process and cannot afford to be overlooked for operations professionals who want to make their sites and procedures secure.
Businesses across all sectors are currently contending with soaring business costs. This has necessitated a pivot towards wider cost-cutting exercises and an understandable heightened level of scrutiny surrounding jobs costing and labour allocation.
Ensuring you have the right people in place at the right time, not to mention ensuring the relevant skillsets are available for any given shift can mean that all too often, people teams find themselves losing valuable hours to manual processes. In order to achieve operational efficiency and compliance, businesses will need to look towards a degree of automation in their rostering and workforce management planning.
Balancing demand with capacity is one of the key challenges facing an organisation when it comes to rostering. Furthermore, the need for specific skillsets or certifications (first aid training, forklift certification etc.) can mean that ensuring the right talent is in at the right time is easier said than done.
Furthermore, organisations which rely on heavily manual processes for their scheduling can often find themselves wide open to complications that arise from sickness absences or no-shows. Without the reactive capability to source adequate cover ahead of time, businesses can find themselves hamstrung in terms of output, not to mention opening themselves up to potential compliance nightmares if certain health and safety roles aren’t adequately represented.
Soaring business costs not only place pressure on businesses from an operational perspective, but they can also contribute significantly to heightened levels of employee burnout, with constrained budgets meaning employees are pressured to do more with less- working with shoestring resources to hit targets.
should be a cause for alarm among businesses, highlighting as it does, the fact that “There is less management focus on health and wellbeing compared with the first year of the pandemic.”
This suggests a worrying disconnect between core business goals and the need to keep a weather eye on levels of employee engagement and wellbeing. Although operations as a function doesn’t traditionally deal with wellbeing concerns, they cannot afford to be blind to the consequences of a disaffected workforce, particularly with how it pertains to levels of output and productivity.
Lapse people management processes, particularly those which restrict employee reviews to a rigid, annual discussion, can leave a huge blind spot of visibility around employee sentiment and engagement for organisations. For operations teams, this means operating in the dark and expecting heightened levels of output which cannot be adequately achieved by an exhausted workforce.
The dominant need to drive down costs for businesses isn’t restricted to the allocation of labour. Modern organisations and their operations teams are faced with a labyrinthine task when it comes to jobs costing and reducing overall spend across their workforce.
Understanding where material and time needs to be allocated across various projects or sites can be the make-or-break point which determines the success of not only any individual jobs but also the ongoing financial security of an organisation.
For operations teams, the demands of driving costs down whilst dealing with the labyrinthine task of effective resource allocation across various sites and shift patterns (sometimes across a continuous 24-hour cycle) can often seem like an overwhelming task and one which cannot effectively be overcome whilst being hamstrung by outdates systems and technology.
Traditional jobs costing challenges have also been compounded in recent years by the upswing in remote working which has seen the workforce become increasingly disparate. This as added additional complexities for operations teams in that office equipment such as computers, monitors or office chairs have to be sourced and allocated to employees who work from home. The increased demands this places operations teams to be able to have effective oversight over where material and equipment is assigned in this relatively new working world, is one of the key reasons that older people management systems and processes may not be up to the task.
The people management function within business has long been considered to be a very hands-on, admin-intensive role. With this level of manual input comes an ever-increasing potential for errors and miscommunication - minor mistakes which can see businesses losing time and money putting out fires from mishandled administrative processes. Reports have found that in the UK alone, roughly £15 billion a year is lost due to errors in tracking documentation, with businesses losing vital manpower and time to correcting mistakes.
For operations teams, HR can therefore represent a potential black hole of spiralling costs and inefficient processes- all of which can contribute to being a huge sink of both time and money. Older workforce management solutions are particularly guilty of compounding these problems, demanding that HR and administrative teams dedicate a significant portion of their working week to manual inputs and cross-checking.
Many organisations are also languishing with systems that have little to no interplay between each other, meaning that teams have to dedicate regular time to collating information manual between different parts of a process. From an operational perspective, this means that key individuals across the workforce are effectively hamstrung and prevented from enacting more meaningful strategies. Investing in newer people management technology can help you drive transformational change and reduce waste.
A huge demand on operations teams comes from the need to reduce business waste. Ultimately, this is the culmination of the various pressure points we’ve described previously as wastage can be quantified as everything from labour expenditure to fatigue and the misallocation of resources.
A key danger of business waste is how insidious it is. Wastage of all kinds affects the bottom line of any organisation but an inability to recognise and deal with the root cause of inefficiencies can lead to businesses suffering irreparable damage. Even measures to overcome wastage such as the sourcing of new systems and technology can end up incurring needless costs
People management is an area where inefficiencies can become widespread. Older systems and technologies can also have a way of concealing gaps in processes and obscuring the origin points of issues, meaning that they become bedded in before the organisation is even aware of the need to make a change.
What this dictates is the need to introduce a closer relationship between your people management and operations functions. Although the two disciplines aren’t traditionally considered in the same sphere, it’s clear that legacy or outdated systems and technology in your people management processes can have long term impacts on the health of organisations and their ability to achieve operational excellence.
The broad scope of operational requirements and the ongoing need of all businesses to reduce costs and achieve greater degrees of efficiency in their processes has presented a unique set of challenges for operations teams to overcome.
What is clear is that people management represents an area of daily business operations which is often ripe for digital transformation. An overreliance on manual inputs or being beholden to outdated and sluggish systems and technologies can often create gaps in visibility which lead to inefficiencies in the allocation of labour and other resources.
We’ve created our range of Advanced People Management solutions in order to help organisations overcome everyday challenges holding back their people management function and to support all areas of the business in delivering sustained excellence.
From Time and Attendance to Payroll, HR and Performance Management, Advanced’s People Management solutions have been created by experts in the industry in order to help organisations and operations professionals transform the way they engage with their people and to eliminate the administrative and technical demands which prevent teams from achieving their core goals.
To discover more about how Advanced People Management can help your operations teams overcome hurdles presented by poor people management processes, get in touch today.