The New Associate
Blue Yonder is committed to helping its customers face the unexpected. To provide insights into the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on supply chains around the world, we are delivering a blog series to help anyone looking for support and advice. Our experts, who have spent years in the supply chain industry, share their insights.
There will be a new generation of associates entering the workforce post-COVID-19. Organizations need to be prepared for their changing expectations so they can continue to engage and retain their employees. This generation of workers understands and values technology. They are looking for employers who do the same. Organizations have learned how essential their frontline associates are. Now, it is important they empower them with better tools that will help maintain work-life balance, keep them engaged, provide role clarity, and improve their productivity.
We predict a rise in gig workers coming out of the pandemic, so flexibility will be key to meet the scheduling needs of employees. The new-age worker is more comfortable doing shorter durations of work and having a flexible schedule that more closely resembles their lifestyle. They like to view their schedule, change their availability, swap out hours and shifts with coworkers, and communicate with their employer from their own personal device. To support these changing expectations, a flexible and agile platform will be a necessity to keep this new generation of associates engaged.
Technology supports these changes but also provides additional value to the employer by increasing visibility into their workforce. Here are some ways technology can be an enormous factor in supporting associates and maintaining the organization’s brand:
Managing Associate Availability
This is the Holy Grail for many organizations. To support their frontline associates, organizations should introduce tools that allow individuals to manage their availability. This also reduces shifts that go uncovered. With increased visibility and awareness, the organization can act as a control tower and can deploy associates when and where they are needed most and can respond proactively to any disruption. By ingesting advanced technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), organizations have better access to information that determines where their resources are needed most so they can properly plan and staff their stores and warehouses.
Organizations can leverage technology to boost communication throughout the organization. This will breakdown silos and increase transparency between leadership, corporate, managers and frontline workers. Assigned workloads can be managed, and when work is complete, the proper people can easily be notified. This also allows the organization a platform to communicate and send tasks to associates with ease as well as a dashboard where they can track workloads in progress, improving retention rates, productivity, and lowering overall operational costs. The same communication platform can empower workers with knowledge transfer, training manuals, and videos ensuring they have all the information needed to develop and maintain their skills and provide cross-training opportunities.
Rewards and Recognition
Organizations should use technology to give accolades to their associates for all of their hard work. This encourages associate engagement and participation as well as drives additional business value for the organization. Reward-seeking behavior is commonplace to help drive associate enthusiasm, communication amongst peers, reduce associate turnover, and improve the experience of customers, their return rate, and spending power. Virtual high-fives, praising a job well done or a wall of fame are great ways to recognize associates. This can be accomplished with a workforce management gamification tool that improves their experience and, in turn, has an equally positive impact on the organization.
Safety at Work
Safety measures like sanitizers, masks, gloves and protective eye gear are essential to keep workers safe but technology can also provide ways to ensure workers on our frontline are protected. Safe clocking options to record attendance where associates do not need to all touch the same device will be more commonplace and will provide additional levels of safety and reassurance.
Supporting our frontline workers is more important than ever as we recover globally from the COVID-19 pandemic. By using technology, organizations can support a safer work environment and provide stronger communication, agility, and flexibility to adapt to the changing expectations of the new workforce. Organizations that adopt new technologies will be ahead of the curve as we recover together and will form a renewed trust between employer and associate.
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