The future of work: Business and technology considerations in 2016

Business and tech trends 2016

How will the way you work evolve next year? Our second blog post by Joanne Jacobs, Senior Vice President of Products, looks at the business and technology trends shaping the workforce in 2016.

Through my work supporting our global clients, I see there continuing to be three key market forces impacting the way people do business. Firstly, technology cycles are getting shorter and shorter. Cloud and mobile are now mainstream technologies – and with that comes the ability to access a virtually unending ocean of data 24/7. With one-in-three companies still using manual time tracking systems, companies who haven’t automated their time tracking requirements are missing opportunities to improve efficiencies through greater productivity, profitability and wage and hour compliance.

Secondly, the workforce continues to become more diversified, with the rise of independent contractors in the gig or "on-demand" economy taking center stage. In the US, 15.5 million people are self-employed, an increase of roughly one million from the year prior. By 2020, it's estimated that more than 40 percent of the US workforce – about 60 million people – will be independent workers. It's another layer of complexity in working out how to pay the employee – whether they’re exempt or non-exempt from overtime pay, full-time employees, hourly workers or seasonal staff.

Thirdly, the evolution of the workforce is putting more pressure on a company's wage and hour obligations. Last month, a group of tech, public policy and labor leaders called for new protections for contract workers – including workers' compensation and sick leave – following a record year of class action lawsuits by workers about employee misclassification. A competitive job market looking at hiring and retaining top talent mean that today’s wage and hour obligations need to be revised to keep up with the rapid changes in the economy.

Based on these market forces, businesses should assess the following four policies and technologies, and analyze how these can drive further improvements across the organization in 2016.

1. Be clear on how you classify your employees. The minimum wage debate, the National Living Wage in the UK, overtime pay, "unlimited" vacation, state-by-state meal and rest breaks are all part of understanding what wage and hour obligations you need to consider for your employees. With a number of wage and hour regulations being revised in 2016, Replicon launched a Compliance subscription-based service that updates and applies relevant wage and hour requirements for our customers, taking away the headache of keeping abreast of relevant obligations and ensuring companies avoid costly, brand-damaging class action lawsuits.

2. Consider the implications of your employee benefit programs. Many companies have initiated employee benefits such as unlimited vacation policies to encourage greater work/life balance and support recruitment and retention. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily result in people taking time off – whether it’s because time off is rejected or because the person doesn’t feel comfortable requesting time off in the first place. We found that in the 12 months leading up to June 2015, October was the most popular month for businesses to reject employee vacation requests. Rather than rolling out a generous policy and expecting an uptick in adoption, businesses need to cultivate a culture where these programs are readily accepted.

3. Overhaul legacy technologies and embrace more automated solutions. In my experience working with customers – particularly in industries such as manufacturing and retail – hard-wired time clocks still abound for people to punch in and out of shifts. But why use a technology that is 127 years old? Leveraging the cloud, our patented CloudClock technology integrates with a company’s time and attendance application to instantly empower people to punch in and out of shifts and check their schedules, eliminate “buddy punching” with our photo audit functionalities, and dramatically reduce costs using the app – no vendor hardware required. Similarly, while the majority of companies accept that mobile is a must have to conduct business, the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices will likely unleash more innovations in how companies can capture and optimize the data to drive further efficiencies at the individual and corporate levels.

4. Incorporate more agile project management processes. To be competitive, companies must be agile. People need to be flexible to meet market demands and changing customer needs – and be willing to take risks, learn from mistakes and innovate quickly. Through our work with customers such as Aon – who serves customers in over 120 countries – we’ve helped reduce the time needed to plan and adjust for projects from a mere one or two months to a full year, enabling greater project management, resource allocation and business efficiencies.

What steps are you taking to meet the business and technology changes affecting how we work? Are your strategies addressing the needs of a diversified, always-on workforce? We’d love to hear your insights.

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Lisette Paras
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