Evolution-of-Mobile-Workforce-Management-Solutions

In today’s lean hotel industry, managers can’t afford to be desk-bound. They need mobile tools that allow them to manage operational issues immediately and efficiently from any location as they engage with guests and staff. Other factors that will drive demand for mobile in 2015 are regulatory compliance and the rise of app-savvy millennials as a key and growing segment of the labor force. The tech world is responding with mobile solutions that promise to transform the way hotels manage their employees while empowering those employees with the tools to better control their own schedules.

Mobile is becoming more and more prevalent, whether it is through smartphone technology, tablets, or through mobile computing. As the cell phone’s memory capacity has increased, a great deal of information that used to be stored in a computer is now available in the palm of one’s hand. Mobile technology has brought transformative change in the consumer world – social apps have changed how we communicate, ride-sharing apps the way we move across town – and the hotel industry has increasingly been adopting guest-facing mobile technology in response. But mobile also provides the tools to help organizations manage their workforces with greater agility, driving productivity and efficiency, improving employee engagement, and, ultimately, increasing guest satisfaction.

A Dynamic Workplace
It’s a much more dynamic world and workplace today. In a streamlined hotel industry, managers can’t afford to stay at their desks; they need to be out on the floor cultivating relationships with their guests while at the same time responding to staff issues in real time. What these managers have to accomplish on a minute-by-minute basis lends itself well to a mobile world, and there are a growing number of apps to support their needs.  And critically, the mobile environment presents new means of fundamental communication between management and staff.

At any given moment, in fact, managers can tap into a wealth of information regarding staffing availability and demand. Through mobile dashboards on their smart phones, they have the ability to approve scheduling requests on the go; create and broadcast messages to ensure a shift is adequately manned; and monitor staffing issues, with automatic alerts to everything from call-ins and late clock-ins to workers who are approaching breaks or going into overtime. As new features are introduced that make these mobile dashboards increasingly customizable, managers can determine the most important and actionable metrics to track.

How Millennials are Changing the Game
In a year that will see millennials become the largest percentage of the workforce, deploying mobile tools will be essential to employee engagement and satisfaction in 2015. Millennials live in a mobile world. They are app-savvy as consumers and want the same immediacy and convenience at work. More are choosing nontraditional career tracks, and they want flexible schedules that help them maintain a better work-life balance.

Mobile workforce management tools can empower these employees to manage their own schedules – to respond quickly to accept, swap or drop shifts; review schedules easily; notify a manager of sick leave; request time off from any place at any time; and, ultimately, create the work-life balance they seek. Scheduling, then, becomes not only more streamlined and flexible but more collaborative, which will be crucial in dealing with a millennial workforce.

Greater Agility
Through mobile technology, managers can make quicker, more informed decisions more frequently throughout the day. They can access information on performance levels on a smart phone at any moment, enabling them to intelligently manage their workforce to meet guest demand.  A food and beverage manager, for instance, can compare the number of guests served to projections, and adjust staffing on the spot to meet quality and service expectations on a busy shift, decrease excessive labor costs on a slow shift, and drive bottom line results. Using mobile technology, instead of supplying workers with an assigned list of rooms at the beginning of a shift, housekeeping managers can get alerts from workers as they complete a room, then send them their next assignment, easily accommodating special requests from guests and other last-minute needs.
 
On-the-Spot Training
Also thanks to mobile, gone are the days when all restaurant servers arrived for a shift at the same time so that managers could go over the day’s specials, a particular wine to promote, and other information pertinent to that shift. Now, all of that information can be sent to each server’s mobile device, allowing more flexibility in staff scheduling while helping to drive the top line.

Other hotel workers, too, can capitalize on mobile technology to instantly access information they need to deliver high quality service. While today a new housekeeping employee can learn how to properly make a bed by watching a training video on a computer screen, tomorrow, if that housekeeper needs a reminder of the procedure while servicing a room, he or she can bring up the video on a mobile device for a quick refresher. Likewise, front-desk workers can access a video that teaches them how to check in a guest and view it right on their smart phone. Heart of the house staff can learn on the go to support improved performance and operational results.

The ACA
Many anticipate that new entitled benefit rules under the Affordable Care Act will lead to an increase in part-time employees with multiple jobs. Should the threshold for benefits under the ACA remain at under 30 hours, for instance, the advantage of mobile technology will be that management can be notified immediately if workers are approaching that limit, giving them greater control over the hours employees are working. Before mobile, management was often not aware of an employee’s overtime until the next day. Information that once had a lag time of 12 to 24 hours is now instantly available, which will have a positive impact on the costs organizations absorb. A mobile advantage for the newly part-time workers will be the possibility of managing their job details for multiple employers from a central database.
Looking Ahead         
The rise of mobile, the pressure to operate lean, and the lifestyle sought by millennials are converging to change the entire dynamic of how people work and how they’re employed. In the approaching freelance economy, workers will have the ability to work for multiple employers, schedule more hours, and take more time off when they feel like it. This will lead to a rethinking of the relationship between the employee and employer.

Already, we’re seeing a shift in some markets to more part-time, more casual employees, and that will be well supported by a mobile information world. A manager who needs five servers for a particular function will be able to broadcast that message out not only to staff but to everyone qualified to do the job. Workers, for their part, will be able to pick their shifts rather than be assigned to them as long as they have the requisite skills.

The opportunities in a mobile environment are so significant that there is minimal downside. In the short term, implementing workforce management mobile technology requires dealing with the divide between those workers with smart phones and those without, between those who have a millennial mindset and those who are used to a more traditional employment structure. But this challenge will resolve itself as smart phones grow ever-more ubiquitous and as baby boomers leave the workforce.  There is more and more demand for mobile in the workplace, and companies that implement the technology find their managers and workers embrace it very quickly.

Compliance, scheduling, and understanding performance are all areas that can be optimized in a mobile environment, and 2015 will see continued expansion in these areas.

As published by HotelExecutive.com.  The Hotel Business Review is a weekly journal of best practices in hotel management and operations and is available at www.hotelexecutive.com. HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. 


 

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