You don’t have to have been at work that long – even five years – to see how much has changed in the workplace. Even employees in their mid-twenties will have noticed how different working practices are today compared with when they graduated.

The recent Taylor Review into working practices in the UK highlighted the revolution taking place in the workplace.

It’s not just about mass digital transformation and global economics. It is also about attitude.  As HR departments know, the expectations and demands of every generation has meant there is no one size fits all in terms of workplace contracts.

Working parents were once only the working mum. The care of an elderly relative used to be in the hands of local council services. Now it is often carried out by a full-time employee who needs a flexible working pattern. And today’s workers in their twenties no longer want or demand a job for life. How do you, as the HR department, factor that in and keep track of all the new legislation which adds legal weight to these demands?

If you’re an SME you’re probably already groaning under the weight of red tape. So we have pulled together five ways to help your business, large or small, avoid getting left behind in the 21st century workplace.

1. Accommodate for zero hour contracts and ‘gig’ economies

Although permanent contracted work still remains the ‘norm’ in the British labour work force, there are also ‘atypical’ arrangements such as zero hour contracts and new business models like the ‘gig’ and ‘sharing’ economies. These gig economies are forecast to grow in the coming years. The flexible nature of this type of work compromises the sustainability of the current employment framework.

The best way of keeping track is via a digital solution so K3 Equator HR has set up the Personnel Module. It caters for all the different, complex employee details to provide a comprehensive personnel administration for your business.

 2. Combat poor productivity levels

Another element that is challenging the current labour market is poor productivity. This catalyst for the lack of real wage growth in industry has been apparent since the financial crisis in 2009/2010. There is also a long-standing productivity gap in the UK compared with our competitors abroad.

To combat that K3 Equator HR’s Shop Floor Data Collection (also known as Real-Time Data Collection) module allows for information from the factory floor to be collected and collated electronically so you know what is going on and when. Its features include the ability to interactively monitor time spent on the varied operations of a job and a real time ‘Work-To’ list together with the ability to measure start and finish times.

This module can enable your business to see what is going on in the shop floor, keep the practices which are working and change those that are not.

3. Manage your payroll efficiently

One of the biggest obstacles to expanding your business is the complexity of the administration i.e. staff payroll, working hours, bonuses and training. Most recently, K3 Equator HR updated its software to include the new gender pay gap reporting required by the government. At the moment it only affects businesses with more than 250 employees but this may well be widened to include SMEs in the future.

The legislation doesn’t look simply at male versus female jobs, but male versus female roles when it comes to pay. So, for example, if men are more likely to be doing night shifts then they will most likely be getting additional allowances. If the sales team are mainly men then again they may be given bonuses not open to women in other roles within the same company.

K3 Equator HR has a precise payroll module designed to accommodate the nuances for the new reporting as well as across the board tax code updates and the usual changes at the start of the financial year.

4. Be ready for the Industry 4.0 working environment

For HR teams the technology behind Industry 4.0 provides digital information which will help keep employees safe in the working environment. K3 Equator HR’s Access Control Module means you can monitor entry and exit by employees, establishing who is in the building in case of a fire.

Where employees have to have access, the module can control the movement of employees through all the doors on your site. This includes restricted access to internal doors to ensure safe working zones. Employee identification is made by using proximity, magnetic, barcode or biometric fingerprint technology with user-defined PIN entry that can be tailored for each individual worker.

The  Shop Floor Data Collection module also allows for data to be captured using Bluetooth wireless technology and PC applications designed for ‘touch screen’ use, which can then be integrated with real time components.

5. Employ the right person for the job

One issue which crops up time and again, whatever the size of your business, is the mismatch between the job role and the skill of the employee. The proportion of the UK workforce with a degree level qualification continues to rise.

The Taylor Review says the proportion of graduates working in low-skilled jobs has increased from 5.8% in 2008 to 8.1% in 2016. If your business doesn’t utilise the skills of its workers, it could be compromising its potential productivity levels.

With the Personnel Module in Equator HR you can avoid this mismatch and help your staff reach their potential. The module can store detailed information on employees and then use its Skills Analysis Feature to carry out an in-depth depiction of its workers. Happy workers fulfilling their potential. Happy employees tackling the skills gap challenge in industry.

The rapid pace of change in the workplace isn’t likely to slow down, and who knows what the jobs of the future will look like and how contracts will be structured. To stay ahead of the game, it’s vital that businesses invest in the technology to keep pace with all the changes. Here at K3 we are continually investing in updating our software platforms and working with best-of-breed partners so that you can stay ahead of the curve.