Vision 2016, the annual WorkForce Software event, was held in Chicago this week. Although there were a number of topics discussed, three main subjects stood out to me from my time there:

  • WorkForce Software’s acquisition of Workplace
  • The amount of open sharing that was being done by the customers in attendance
  • The surprising lack of discussion around the new time and wage laws put into effect by the recent FLSA update. Here are some expanded thoughts.

WorkForce Software’s Acquisition of Workplace Seems Destined for Success

Much of the talk (and focus of many of the presentations) was on WorkForce Software’s recent acquisition of Workplace. This move gives WorkForce Software a coveted greater global footprint, but also gives it immediate entry into the retail market, which was Workplace’s main space. One fact that bodes well for the acquisition is that the two companies only had one shared customer. The lack of disruption among both companies’ existing customer base should allow both organizations to focus on combining the strengths of both. For WorkForce Software that is a customer-centric focus, strategic sales approach, and broad product vision; for Workplace it is a hyper-modern UI/UX, agile development, and retail-focused scheduling solutions. This seems like an acquisition that should work.

Companies Are Easily Showing the ROI of WFM Automation

Other than the acquisition news, the main highlights for me were the customer stories, particularly one presented by Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, which shared some of the direct financial rewards of moving to a fully automated scheduling and leave management system. In 2015 when Brandon Hall Group first published the findings of our workforce management automation study, many of the groups I presented to were surprised or even sceptical of the percentage of companies that still relied on manual processes for wage and labour law compliance.

Which process best describes your organization’s compliance reporting capabilities?


Source: 2015 Brandon Hall Group Workforce Management Technology Study

Often the data was challenged, with the argument being that it was probably a lot of small companies that still relied on manual processes for tracking things such as time and attendance. Yet when I pulled out the smaller companies the percentages did not change drastically: 38% of companies with 1,000 employees or more reported having only partially automated systems for wage and hour reporting (only a 3% change from the overall sample population).

MLSE shared that for one-quarter of their hourly employees, they were still manually inputting pay. For a company of over 1,600 employees and $700M in equity, that is a lot of risk, but also a lot of opportunity to introduce efficiency, cost savings, and improve employee engagement. In fact, MLSE was able to show the ROI of their migration to a fully automated system, and also spoke about some of the ancillary benefits, such as simplified remote access for scheduling (due to its now cloud-based technology). This is important for their employees, the vast majority of whom work on an as-needed basis.

The FLSA Changes Should Not be Ignored

The last thing I noticed was the relative lack of concern about the recent FLSA update from May. The turmoil from that change just does not seem as great as expected, as many of the organizations (in this group at least) were already well above the threshold for the new exempt minimum. However, there were repeated warnings not to rely too much on vendors to maintain compliance for companies, as nearly every organization has some process, rule, classification, or job type that could cause them to err on the side of non-compliance, but that couldn’t be caught by the fields or alerts in any WFM software.

For the most part, organizations have done their due diligence in seeking out knowledge, research, and analysis on compliance topics so many of the changes were expected, although the specifics were not known until the final announcement. Certain realities have been made clear over the last two years, though: there is a greater amount of data that could be considered “compliance data,” and there is increased need for transparency (which de facto includes objective, automated collection and storage).

A final note on the topic of transparency: WorkForce Software should be commended for the amount of transparency it has shown during the acquisition of Workplace. In terms of executive access, analyst communications, and (extremely) early demos of upcoming projects, they have led the way in creating an open and honest atmosphere which hopefully is indicative of HR technology as a whole in the coming years.

Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst, Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group



Cliff Stevenson

Cliff Stevenson is Principal Analyst, Workforce Management Practice, for Brandon Hall Group. He came to Brandon Hall Group in 2015 from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) where he was a senior analyst since 2012. Cliff's experience as human capital research analyst has focused on data and analytics, performance management, recruitment, acquisition, retention, and attrition.