I recently came across a YouTube video showcasing a Canadian electrical contracting firm. An electrician, Joel, says he plans to stock up on supplies at the office before leaving for a job site to finish off his terminal panels. As he goes into a supply room, Joel passes a colleague who had just finished a workout in the company’s “Zen Room,” where anyone can exercise, practice kickboxing, yoga or other wellness activities. Yes, this is an electrical contracting firm.
ECs often work at a different location every day. For Joel, going downtown one day and to a suburban office the next is made possible by the technology and policies at his company.
“We can go to our job sites without coming to work, since all our servicemen take our vans home with us,” Joel said. “We have about 50 service trucks here […] so of course this is the only way this would be possible.”
Like many electrical workers nowadays, Joel is at the vanguard of the mobile workforce, which performs best when there’s a positive environment to support it.
Achieving and managing such a workforce requires innovative tools and technology.
App driven, centrally managed
Workers can install phone apps to give them a secure pipeline to a central data repository or human resources service center where all their data is coordinated and stored. This includes schedules, benefits, training information, contacts, license information, wage information, tax information and other data that follows the worker through their career in the company.
Mark Mitchell is the managing director of HR shared services for American Airlines, Fort Worth, Texas. His company uses SAP SuccessFactors to help manage and serve its dispersed workforce located at numerous places within airports around the world. The app is a gateway to the company’s HR service centers to support American’s highly mobile workforce.
According to Mitchell, American Airlines was not concerned whether the implementation was plain for all to see or not visible at all in their daily work. The company wanted the transformation to be seamless and not distracting. It didn’t want employees to notice.
When the company rolled out the technology, employee buzz was all about the useful and efficient employee service center; the culture seemed to have changed for the better.
HR math: H+O=HXM
Human resources apps are going beyond the management of objective and operational data. They may also be part of a larger means of measuring the employee’s “experience,” or how they’re feeling. Are they overworked or stressed? Are issues at work not being addressed? Do they have a common beef and nowhere to express it?
Technology helps provide management and leadership with an indication of the employee experience. Combine this measure with the operational factors of being an employee in the firm, and this gives rise to a whole new paradigm of managing a scattered workforce.
It paves the way for a new brand of corporate culture—one where the employee experience (X) meets human resources operations (O) to create a new flavor of HR leadership: human experience management (HXM). Technology is the accelerator.
That’s how SAP’s SuccessFactors explains it, based on the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs at leading U.S. companies.
SuccessFactors’ goal is to use HR tools and technology to boost employees’ careers, with better management of their employee posture and worker experience by continuously building a company culture that supports the employee’s experience, ultimately leading to excellence.
Joel’s EC firm is forthright in saying that creating excellence in the work environment means it can look back on their many hours of work and stand proud knowing they made a difference. The YouTube video asserts that the company is family and it is “a place of our accomplishments, our challenges and our triumphs.”
If it sounds noble, it is. And it is the reason many firms are turning to technology to achieve it. They are finding ways to better manage employees, using technology, to lead to accomplishments, challenges and triumphs.