This week at Vision 2017, the Workforce Software user conference, one of the presenters was Josh Dovayak, director of operations for Wireless Vision, a company that manages T-Mobile retail locations. He had an innovative take on the use of workforce management technology. shutterstock_561060733

Dovayak said he uses Workforce Software’s Forecasting and Scheduling (F&S) tool to ensure that he is not only meeting his customers’ needs, but also giving his high-potential sales reps the shifts where they would make the most money.

I spoke with Dovayak afterwards about how he uses the schedule optimizer in this situation. He created a “skill” for those employees, something like #highpayday that allows him to match those moments, usually around the 1st and 15th of every month, when he knows the T-Mobile stores will see higher amounts of sales (not necessarily more traffic, but a higher conversion rate for larger dollar amounts). By matching the needs of those sales people to the times when those needs can be met, he is able to keep both his customers and his employees happy.

At first, we were discussing this as a possible feature to be highlighted in Workforce F&S, but the conversation turned to the role that humans (as opposed to software and algorithms) play in HR in our time. There is a growing percentage of people in HR who are concerned about where they fit into an increasingly automated workplace.

In Brandon Hall Group’s 2017 HCM Measurement and Analytics Study, the top three concerns regarding people data were:

  • Data Security (40%)
  • Employee privacy (16%)
  • Dehumanization of the workforce (13%)

While data security is the top concern, the next two show a focus on the impact of technology on employees. These concerns don’t go unnoticed by companies such as Workforce Software, whose CEO, Mike Morini, has flatly stated that the goal of its products is never to replace a human worker, but to allow those humans to be more connected to their workforce.

At Brandon Hall Group, we are seeing companies heavily focused on people in all of our HCM practices (L&D, Talent Management, Talent Acquisition, Leadership Development as well as HR/Workforce Management.) Last year (and continuing this year), we see a dramatic rise in the importance of the employee experience (which is a branch of the same tree that the concept of workforce humanization comes from). Lately there has been a lot of interest in security and privacy, no doubt stemming from a larger national conversation that is happening about globalization.

With people like Josh Dovayak out there, it’s easier to feel optimistic about the future of the HR profession. The computers really aren’t coming for our jobs, although it is easy (and right) to be concerned about people managing by machine recommendation. But if handled correctly by professionals with the right mindset, the reality is that these machines, by removing the spreadsheets and number crunching from things like scheduling, can help managers and employees to connect in a more human way.

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