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Navigating COVID in the Food Industry: 7 Must-Have HR Tools

September 14, 2020 - minute read

While the COVID-19 crisis has impacted food industry employers differently, none have escaped untouched. While some food plants can’t fulfill orders fast enough, others have seen demand for their products plummet. But they all have one thing in common: they’re striving to adapt to a still-evolving world. And they all can benefit from one common solution: agile HCM technology that features specific HR tools—tools that:

  • Are designed for employers managing an hourly workforce
  • Offer flexibility, so employers can quickly adapt to shifting conditions
  • Provide visibility into daily workforce activity  

Whether leveraging their existing HCM system or evaluating upgrades, food companies can benefit from prioritizing these seven HR tech tools and features.

1. An Online Learning Management System

COVID-19 health and safety protocols continue to change. When you have a highly-accessible e-learning solution, it’s easier to keep workers current on your latest procedures. In addition, since food industry absenteeism is trending higher, per the CDC, using your learning management system to cross-train and upskill workers ensures you’ll always have the right people to staff your production lines.

Tip: look for an learning management system that offers a selection of pre-packaged courses relevant to your workforce, allows you to upload training materials in various formats, and tracks each worker’s training status.

2. Fool-proof Sick and Family Leave Tracking

With more workers taking sick and family leave now, it’s crucial to have an automated tracking system in place. This is especially true if your food company is subject to The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which mandates that employers with less than 500 employees are required to pay leave to sick and quarantined workers.

Tip: choose an HCM system that not only tracks various types of leave, easily produces reports on demand—and, if you’re subject to the FFCRA, can generate your quarterly IRS tax forms for you.  

3. Flexible, Real-time Scheduling Software

As a result of higher absenteeism and rapidly-changing production demands, your shift managers may be updating schedules on a day-to-day basis. Flexible, real-time scheduling software allows them to make quick changes, without creating disruptions.

Tip: To control costs—and please your workforce—look for scheduling software that flags accidentally-scheduled overtime, offers a built-in budget calculator, and allows workers to bid on open shifts and swap schedules.

4. Real-time Managers’ Alerts

When workforce attendance is fluid, real-time alerts linked to your time and labor system help keep productivity on course. Managers can program the system to send immediate notifications when things don’t happen as planned. That should include when workers fail to clock in as scheduled orwhen there aren’t enough workers to run your production line.

Tip: Look for HR systems that allow managers choose how they’d like to receive their real-time alerts—i.e., by text or email. Ideally, choose one that is linked to labor budgeting software, to alert them when jobs are about to go over budget.

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5. Hygienic Clock-in Solutions

Traditional time clocks have a long history in many food processing plants, but they are not helpful when it comes to germ spread. Now is a great time to upgrade to more modern time-tracking methods. Two excellent options: touch-free facial-recognition time clocks and mobile time-tracking apps that allow workers to clock in from their personal smart phones.

Tip: A versatile HR software provider will offer you a range of mix-and-match time-tracking solutions to suit various work areas or job types. For example, you may choose biometric time clocks for the plant, online time-tracking for your administrative (or remote) staff, and a mobile app for drivers.

6. An Advanced Recruiting System

Chances are, your hiring needs keep changing. Perhaps you’re bringing furloughed workers back; perhaps you’re hiring new workers. An advanced recruiting system allows you to reactivate workers in just one or two clicks and post jobs to multiple job boards at once. Best of all, it enables file sharing, so all decision-makers are in the loop.

Tip: Focus on fully-integrated HCM systems that automatically convert applicant records into new hire records that flow throughout the other modules in your HR system—so HR only keys-in data once.   

7. Accessible HR Analytics

Food industry employers need to work smarter these days—and the better you understand your operations and workforce, the better you can optimize it. Insightful HR analytics keep you on top of your headcount, absenteeism, hiring and turnover metrics, and more. They’ll help you identify productivity problems and anticipate hiring needs, so regardless of what COVID throws your way, you’re prepared in advance.

Tip: Look for analytics solutions that include workforce management metrics geared to the hourly workforce. Tracking KPIs such as turnover rates, time to hire, and worker retention.

If your current HR software isn’t actively helping you navigate COVID-19, we invite you to checkout EPAY Systems. Our HCM software was designed for employers like food manufacturers that manage an hourly workforce—and we are continually developing tools and solutions to help our customers overcome their greatest COVID-related challenges. Take two minutes to watch our video tour.

Filed Under: Human Capital Management Manufacturing