Apps-olute Power: Next-Gen Workforce Management
Smart operators realize that adapting to innovation not only improves service, but empowers the workforce to streamline operations and make better decisions. Many companies are finding systems with app-based solutions are a vital part to having access to real-time, company-wide data and being able to address issues as they happen.
To remain competitive in the future, hospitality companies need to understand that “data is the way,” says Saxton Sharad, founder and president of Post Script Hospitality, (http://postscripthospitality.com). Once they embrace this concept, companies should assess the biggest needs and find technology solutions to meet them.
“It’s important to get the most value out of every technology,” he explains. “So how can you use a software solution to answer more than one of your problems or across multiple departments?”
HotSchedules (www.hotschedules.com) warns there is a difference between having a “regular” application dashboard that sends alerts and a truly intelligent restaurant management system. The company stresses that operators should look for operating systems using data to make suggestions based on continuous learning. An ideal system should be able to consolidate all the information managers need in one place; use data and learning to recommend steps to address problems; and alert managers to take action before indicators become issues.
Kenn Pluard, owner at Kenji’s Ramen & Grill in Vancouver, Wash., (https://kenjisramen.com) agrees that “real-time data is hugely beneficial.” He stresses the importance of knowing immediately when something has gone wrong, and being able to check on metrics instantly. For Pluard, this includes being able to track and manage labor — an issue that spans both restaurants and hotels.
At The Carbon Bar (https://thecarbonbar.ca) and Union Chicken (www.unionchicken.com), restaurants based in Toronto and owned by Yannick Bigourdan, there was a need to fill last-minute shifts when people called in sick or scheduled vacation. The company turned to Hyr (http://hyr.work/us), a mobile app that allows hourly paid professionals in hospitality to pick up shifts on demand.
“The app allows us to post open shifts we need filled, even at the last minute, and people can apply for the job through the app,” Bigourdan notes.
Businesses can view applicants’ résumés. Hyr pays the employees and invoices the restaurant.
Empowered employees prove proactive
Giving employees the ability to check schedules, request changes, swap shifts and monitor payroll from mobile phones not only empowers them, but also streamlines processes for management.
Urban Solace (http://urbansolace.net) started using Open Sim Sim (www.opensimsim.com), an app for scheduling and messaging, in July 2017. Prior to this, general manager Emma Elmes was using Google calendar for staff requests, and doing scheduling on Google Drive. She admits to spending far too much time just trying to get shift coverage.
The technology also flags scheduling conflicts and uses a color-coded system for different jobs so there is less error, she explains. It even offers a messaging feature so that she can create alerts if a new shift is open or for staff to send messages to managers about swapping and dropping shifts.
This same type of technology can be used by any size of operation, as Pluard demonstrates at Kenji’s Ramen and Grill. With only one location, the company uses Upserve’s Breadcrumb POS and management software (https://upserve.com) on iPads, where employees clock in and out, and the system integrates with 7Shifts (www.7shifts.com), an app that allows employees to request shift trades and send messages, Pluard explains.
“I go in every two weeks for payroll, to run reports and can see the number of hours worked, how many breaks someone took, and if something looks off — like an employee forgot to clock out — it will flag it,” he says. “It also helps to keep overtime in check, and with rising labor costs, it’s important to keep labor down.”
The hotel industry is utilizing real-time scheduling technology as well. Wilderness Resort (www.wildernessresort.com) uses Dayforce HCM (human capital management) from Ceridian (www.ceridian.com) that offers time clocks, payroll and benefits all in one system. Employees can view their schedule via mobile app or desktop access and can request time off. Managers can see when an employee clocked in and out, as well as receive notifications when someone is getting close to overtime, says Kate Anger-Seep, director of accounting at the company. Managers can even call employees via the app if they don’t show up for a shift.
Today’s mobile workforce
While many scheduling apps offer messaging abilities for staff, there are other options for corporate messaging, including Nudge Rewards, used by Eurest (www.eurest-usa.com) part of The Compass Group based in Charlotte, N.C., which operates 2,600 corporate cafés including Microsoft and Bank of America. The company piloted the Nudge Rewards (www.nudgerewards.com) app with 15 units in an effort to communicate with and inspire front-line employees, says Mike Fiato, VP of experience at Eurest.
“Nudge said we would get a 50 percent adoption rate, and we got 80 percent in the pilot. Not only did employees sign up, but they were opening the messages,” Fiato says. “It allows employees to communicate with each other and share ideas and best practices.”
Using a similar concept, Roedel Companies (https://roedelcompanies.com), operating 11 hotels in Wilton, N.H., is using Beekeeper (www.beekeeper.io) to share best practices, and it will also be posting schedules in the future, says David Roedel, business development. The company is beta-testing an app that allows staff to take polls and post work pictures and accomplishments. The app includes polls and surveys for employees and will be rolled out to the rest of the company in coming months.
“We want to tie in human resources and benefits so people can ask questions and get answers in real-time,” he says. “This is the direction we want to go. To empower people to make decisions.”