While most organizations strive for operational excellence, many are unsure of the steps and strategies that are needed to achieve it. Your operations are made up of a combination of the processes you have in place as well as the actions of your employees as they complete their tasks. But your operations can also be influenced by your organization’s culture, its mission and values, and many other factors. Your operations are about much more than checklists and workflows, and a strategic organization will take a holistic approach to workforce management solutions in order to achieve its operational goals.
This starts with looking at workforce management solutions as a whole and identifying your priorities. But before we can prioritize our initiatives, we need to start with an understanding of the current state of the human services industry and an idea of where things are heading.
Five Key Industry Trends
In our fifth annual state of workforce management report, we were able to take a look back at historical data and identify five trends that are currently shaping the human services landscape. Some of these trends are not so surprising, and some may serve as a reminder that many human services organizations share similar challenges.
1. Demand is growing.
Anyone within the human services industry is well-aware that demand has only continued to grow over the years. With the sudden changes and stressors brought about by the pandemic in 2020, this demand for mental health care has surged. Frontline workers feel the strain of heavy workloads, while the organization experiences an influx of new clients. While this increase in demand is not surprising, it’s a reminder that operational efficiency is essential to be able to grow and scale effectively to meet the needs of your clients.
2. Our priorities are shifting.
With the dramatic changes that organizations went through to survive in 2020, it’s also not surprising that many of us went through some serious re-evaluation. That’s reflected in our workforce management priorities for 2021 now, as financial sustainability has become our number one focus as we keep an eye to the future.
3. Complex challenges require strategic solutions.
When looking at different elements of workforce management, such as recruiting, employee engagement, and retention, there was a consistent trend in the results. When we asked human services leaders to identify their challenges with each element of workforce management, there was never one, single challenge that stood out from the rest in the results. Instead, we saw colorful graphs with fairly even spread across three, four, or more different challenges. So, we need to be strategic. We can’t focus on overcoming one big challenge. Instead, we need to look for workforce management solutions that can overcome a variety of challenges.
4. We need metrics.
Another consistent finding in the 2021 State of Workforce Management Report was a lack of metrics and benchmarks being used to measure progress and success with workforce management initiatives. As we know, we can’t improve what we can’t measure. But we’re having trouble measuring the more qualitative aspects of workforce management. If you feel like you’re not making progress with your workforce management goals, you need to understand why not. And only data-driven metrics can provide us with a real answer here.
5. Digital enablement is the way of the future.
Our use of technology and reliance on digital tools has only increased over the years, reaching new heights in our socially distant 2020. It’s time to bring that tech enablement to the world of workforce management – to help us gain visibility into our workforce operations and to start collecting the data we need for measuring and making improvements.
Our Top Three Priorities for 2021
With our five overarching trends in mind, we’ve set the context for determining our workforce management priorities in 2021 and beyond. Human services executives reported their top three priorities as 1) financial sustainability, 2) recruiting and retention, and 3) company culture.
Financial sustainability is all about resource planning, budgeting, and visibility. Not surprisingly, the top two challenges executives face in this category are measuring the financial efficiency of programs and the lack of visibility or transparency into key metrics. This speaks to our broader trend of needing to put metrics in place as a starting point. Additionally, only 55% of human services organizations understand the exact costs of their specific programs, and only 37% use digital tools to help with visibility and allocate resources effectively.
Recruiting and Retention
Recruiting and retention is about building and maintaining a sustainable workforce. Over the past five years of research, this one has always been one of the top three workforce management priorities among human services organizations. It continues to rank high in importance, but it also continues to be something we struggle with – especially given the various challenges in this area, including:
- Lack of qualified applicants
- Inability to offer competitive pay and benefits
- High turnover rates
- Lack of a recruiting strategy
- Long recruiting cycles
Further, only 30% of human services executives stated that they regularly measure the effectiveness of their recruiting strategy. Putting some metrics in place and using those to help fine-tune your recruiting strategy can provide a useful starting point for making progress with this initiative.
Company culture encompasses communication, collaboration, and diversity and inclusion to create the unique community that characterizes your organization. Human services leaders recommitted to their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in 2020 after witnessing numerous highly publicized examples of racial injustice, and that’s reflected in their priorities for 2021. 78% of organizations saying they are actively making efforts to improve DE&I, so this initiative continues to stay at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Workforce Management Solutions to Achieve Your Goals
As mentioned in the five key trends, digital enablement will play an increasingly essential role in measuring and achieving workforce management goals. Human services organizations are experiencing steady growth and becoming increasingly complex in their operations. All of these changes make it that much more important to have the right level of visibility into workforce operations, so organizations can take a proactive approach as they find workforce management solutions. Technology that provides a holistic view of the organization as well as the ability to look at things at the program level, department, or another dimension, can help provide this visibility for your organization.
DATIS provides unified HR and Payroll software that’s designed specifically to help human services organizations gain that visibility and achieve their workforce management goals. Our solution encompasses all aspects of the employee lifecycle in one platform to offer the holistic and comprehensive view of your organization that will enable you to achieve operational excellence. To learn more about the DATIS solution, contact us today for a free demonstration.