Creating Your New Normal: 5 Key HR Tools for Manufacturers Post-COVID-19

May 8, 2020 - minute read

Many U.S. manufacturers will soon be in a position to open their doors, although COVID-19 has not yet abated. If your company is among them, chances are you’re already planning how to reconfigure your plant to safely ramp back up into production. But have you given equal thought to retooling your HR processes in light of your new normal? To not only protect the health of your workforce, but its productivity, too? 

Here’s where great HR software can make a difference. Effective recruiting and training software can help you re-staff smoothly, quickly bringing workers up to speed on new protocols. Meanwhile, powerful workforce management tools can help optimize your workforce, even as you implement ongoing changes.

It’s ironic: before the pandemic, many manufacturers were already looking to upgrade their HR software, along with other technologies. Not only has this crisis accelerated the need for more advanced systems, it’s provided a new lens for evaluating potential solutions.

In a nutshell, in order to successfully navigate the shifting post-shutdown landscape, manufacturers need HR and workforce management software that:

  • Provides greater visibility into workforce activity/productivity
  • Offers flexibility, adapting to emerging needs, and
  • Responds with agility to changing HR requirements. 

With that in mind, consider these five key HR features and tools that will serve you well as you strive to create your successful new normal.

Workforce Management Analytics

Many manufacturers are reconfiguring their factory floors to observe social distancing protocols. As a result, workers may be more widely distributed and isolated than before.

As a result, shift managers may have more ground to cover when making their observatory gemba walks. They may also be limiting walk-through frequency in light of physical distancing—resulting in less face-to-face management. 

Either way, real-time workforce management tools can fill the gap. By monitoring clock-in and clock-out times, meal breaks, and no-shows, managers can easily see who’s working—and when. Used in tandem with machine monitoring equipment, the added visibility can ensure production stays on track.

Real-time Scheduling Software

Chances are, your managers will be tweaking their teams’ schedules for weeks and months to come. Real-time scheduling software will give them the agility to make rapid changes—say, due to last-minute absences, which may be a fact of life for a while, without disrupting the overall schedule.

In addition, it can give you control over labor costs—now a priority for many. Effective software will automatically flag inadvertently-scheduled overtime, allowing managers to make quick adjustments. Some even features built-in budgeting calculators, so managers can instantly calculate labor costs for their proposed schedules.

Finally, effective scheduling software allows workers to bid on open shifts and swap schedules, ensuring you have enough workers per shift as demand increases.

Workforce Management Real-time Alerts  

Real-time alerts tied to time and labor and scheduling systems can provide your managers with eyes-in-the-back-of-their-head insights, even when they’re nowhere near the time clock.

Managers can program alerts to provide real-time notifications—sent by text or email—when a number of situations arise. These include: 

  • When a worker fails to clock in as scheduled
  • When too few workers clock in for a given production line or pod
  • When a job is about to go over budget
  • When a worker is poised to cross into overtime

At a time when the workforce is more likely to be in flux, alerts can help keep productivity steady and budgets on course.

An Online Learning Management System (LMS)

At the least, your workers will likely need to take a COVID-19 safety course or two. If you’re making major reconfigurations, they may also need to learn some new procedures. And given the fact that workers are at a higher likelihood of taking sick leave, you might now choose to cross-train your workers on various machines, ensuring you’ll have adequate coverage.

An online learning management system can simplify and standardize all such training. You can upload training videos, materials, checklists, and tests to your learning portal, minimizing the need for face-to-face training. It also makes it easy to track who has completed and passed their courses. Bonus: the ability to upskill easily may serve you well going forward.

A Streamlined Recruiting and Onboarding Systems

Assuming you’ve laid-off or furloughed your workforce, you’ll need to return your people back to active employee status. The best recruiting and onboarding systems allow you to reactivate workers with just a few clicks—no rekeying basic information.

Furthermore, assuming you’re using an integrated HCM system, it will automatically restore their status in all other HR modules as well: time and labor, benefits, payroll.    

After all, as you get back to business in a new, still-evolving world, your HR people will have far more important things to do than babysit your software.  

In short, the post-COVID-19 universe, your HR system should actively help you adapt and succeed—not make things harder or hold you back. Want to see what else is out there for manufacturers? EPAY offers all these tools and more—take a quick, two-minute tour.

Filed Under: Human Capital Management Manufacturing