Sun, sea and satisfied staff

The most important asset to any company is its human capital. This is a fairly familiar tag line we will all undoubtedly hear a variation of during our careers; ‘you don’t build a business, you build people’, ‘you’re only as good as the people you hire’. Different quotes, same message.

But how does this translate to the most important of company assets, how do employees feel this value and appreciation? Is it through shiny new offices and gadgets, breakfast being laid on each morning or cringingly watching your peers do the robot on the dance floor of a work event?

At a basic, yet arguably most significant level, it comes down to the simplest of needs; a salary and annual leave. Whilst other work perks will motivate us and are undoubtedly ‘nice to haves’ they are not essential to our human needs. Our salary provides us the roof over our heads and the sustenance that fuels us while our annual leave provides the break to clear our minds in the surroundings we want with the people we want. The questions of where, when and how to spend our time is down to us; however, it is the business’s responsibility to effectively plan how we can be accommodated. Flexibility and adaptability must be at the forefront of planning in an ever changing working landscape, with employees at the very heart.

For a large majority of companies, holiday planning and staff scheduling revolves around a web of emails, smudged white boards littered with post it notes, intricate colour coded excel spreadsheets that only one person can decipher and the occasional cloud based application. This chaotic approach leads to archived approval emails being searched for as, often, the spreadsheets and white boards are left outdated or wiped clean; rota coordinators leave and take essential knowledge with them; or, in light of the recent ‘mess-up’ from Ryanair (a rather nonchalant way to acknowledge a potential €25m mistake), roster applications are not intuitive or adaptable enough to meet requirements.

This may be a tolerable risk to some organisations with more predictable shift patterns or a smaller number of staff but where there is an increase in volume, skill mixes and compliance to employment regulations to consider, a fit for purpose solution must be invested in. Within industries such as aviation and healthcare, the complexity increases exponentially and many applications are ill equipped to meet their requirements. Many will target a specific aspect of a rota (such as absence, annual leave or job plans) or are unable to accommodate the complexity of modern working conditions. But tailored solutions do exist.

Ryanair’s failure to identify the risks of over allocation has led to massive cost implications, employee dissatisfaction and of course the damage to brand image, not to mentioned the thousands of disgruntled passengers still not knowing if they’ll be getting on their flight. In the aviation industry this results largely in a tangible financial value, profitability takes a hit of €5m and an estimated €20m in EU261 [passenger] compensation. In other industries this is a small price to pay.

Our NHS faces a constant battle to deliver critical care to the patients that need it most and are often forced to retrofit their operations to suit staff scheduling applications rather than the other way round. This impacts all levels of the NHS and obviously has a negative effect on care provided to patients.

If human capital really is the most important asset to a company then what investment is being made to ensure employees feel valued? We all know the positive impacts of a good work-life balance to our physical and mental health, mindfulness, engagement and productivity so the question could be, can we afford not to invest in a solution?

September 25, 2017

Ben Garner

Business Analyst