Workforce management: Not just payroll data anymore
- By Paul McCloskey
- Jul 26, 2016
For state and local government human resources and operations managers, a Dec. 1 alarm is set to go off that will force significant changes in how agencies manage their personnel records and what tools they use to manage those changes.
The date is the deadline to comply with updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a ruling from the Department of Labor that reclassifies a large share of the employees eligible for overtime pay.
The action by the Department of Labor changes the overtime eligibility threshold for salaried workers to $47,476 and will expand overtime pay protections to over 4 million of workers within the first year of implementation.
The ruling is expected to have a big impact on the way federal, state and local government agencies manage their workforces, and is likely to require a surge of individual compliance calculations as well as the tools and applications needed to implement them.
“For many government agencies, this means devising new strategies, modeling various scenarios to make the right decisions and, ultimately, making sure they are in compliance with this update,” said Rock Regan, a former Connecticut state CIO who is now director of industry management and strategy, government and education, at Kronos Inc.
The deadline will also be a test and opportunity for Kronos, a firm that started 40 years ago supplying business clocks and time management systems. Today, the firm offers a smorgasbord of tools and technologies for ensuring workplace compliance, collective bargaining mandates and requirements targeting government agencies.
“It’s analytics, it’s time and attendance, it’s dealing with schedules and work roles,” Regan said. “And it’s making sure employees get what they are entitled to and management is not playing games with the time card.”
To meet those goals, the firm offers a suite of workforce systems that go beyond managing time and attendance, including analytics as well as mobile and cloud-based systems that automate the collection and management of information.
That includes the ability to reach into workforce databases to find and schedule personnel with specific certifications, a capability that in certain instances can mean the difference between life and death.
For fire or police departments, Kronos can generate expertise-based rosters for finding employee work teams and individuals certified to respond to critical events. If there’s a chemical spill, for example, a department can quickly identify and set up a list of who’s on the chemical spill team.
Once those workers are identified, the system can automatically send off-duty personnel emails, texts or voice mail alerting them to the emergency. The system will continue to call until it receives confirmation that the person received the message and is on the way in.
“So chemical spills, wildfires or shootings, the police department can set up a roster of SWAT-type events,” Regan said. “The system has the intelligence to see who’s already working and it will actually go out and make those calls. It’s very sophisticated in the public safety space.”
In the area of time accrual and management, Kronos also has the ability to use analytics to look back and forward in time to help optimize both employee and employer accounting for vacation and sick time.
“Our system not only looks at current but also at forecast time,” Regan said. “So if somebody plans to take a vacation five months from now, they may not have vacation accrued right now, but our system looks forward to check by that time whether they have sufficient vacation so they can or cannot take a week.”
Longer term time management factors -- particularly those related overtime pay and time periods that affect labor costs -- have become significant cost calculations for government human resources managers.
Over the long haul, cloud computing represents an opportunity for agencies to save on some of these costs, Regan said, especially those associated with the support of servers and mainframes or switching and security.
“In a lot of cases the government doesn't have the ability to replace a lot of the workers and might be trying to capture some of those savings,” with technology, he added. “They’re being crunched on budgets, and so the cloud is an opportunity to not have to refill positions.”
Managers don’t need to know how to run the technology, but they “do need to know how to run the business,” Regan said. “And that’s where workforce management comes into play.”
Paul McCloskey is senior editor of GCN. A former editor-in-chief of both GCN and FCW, McCloskey was part of Federal Computer Week's founding editorial staff.