Friday, March 4, 2011

Integrating inclement weather prediction in Time and Attendance applications

Caution: The below post is the result of some runaway thoughts on a nice sunny Friday evening, you might want to plug your ears because I am about to think out LOUD here!

The weather has been particularly unpredictable and surprising in 2010-2011. We've seen devastating floods in Australia and extreme winters in Europe. My question is, what are companies doing pro-actively to prepare for inclement weather from a workforce management perspective? It goes without saying that inclement weather has a direct impact on the ability of employees to turn up for work - this in turn results in unplanned absenteeism, late arrival at work, early departure from work and lost productivity. So the ability to effectively manage workforce during an event of inclement weather is an important one. More so with the extreme unpredictability of weather conditions that we have been seeing over the last few years.
I have rarely seen an organization having a clear inclement weather policy, so do they have any tools that help them manage this? (Working remotely seems to be a perfect solution, but unfortunately this will not work for all industries).
My premise is that, this is an area that has great impact on workforce management and the workforce management tools should be able to aid supervisors plan their workforce in case of unfavorable weather. So what am I hinting at? My thoughts are that it would be great to have real time weather forecasts integrated with the workforce management suite (especially for locations that are prone to unpredictable weather) and alert supervisors when there is a warning of inclement weather. Here are some features that I would love to see in the WFM products:

1. Ability to integrate with weather forecasting information.
2. Ability to look at historical trends on weather and it's potential impact on workforce planning.
3. Ability to alert in case of potential inclement weather.
4. Identify employees at risk due to inclement weather. This is a tricky part as the ability of an employee to attend work in the event of unfavourable weather conditions depend greatly on the location where the employee stays (what if the weather is going to turn bad for the place where the employee stays rather than the actual work location?), distance the employee has to commute and means of commute.
5. Ability to plan and generate schedule for days with inclement weather.
6. Ability to integrate with the Leave Management/Time and Attendance systems if required to support any inclement weather policies of the organization.
7. Ability to alert employees regarding the change in schedule.

I am sure that the dollar value of lost productivity due to inclement weather is high enough to justify the adoption of formal workforce management strategies/tools to manage this ever increasing unpredictable phenomenon.

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