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Work In Progress

Who Knew My Matchmaking Would Lead to the Workforce Educational Organization?

To me, the WEO is a good example of an all-win approach. We need more business and professional organizations with this sort of inclusive vision.

April 26, 2012
Related Topics: Scheduling, Training & Development, Staffing Management, Technology, Workplace Culture
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There's a new professional group on the scene, and I'm proud to say I played a small part in its arrival.

The group, the Workforce Educational Organization, is focused on the smart use of scheduling software and other workforce management tools. I'm hopeful the WEO will do good things for both employers and employees. So I'm glad I figured into its origins.

Even that modest phrasing, though, risks giving me too much credit. All I did was connect a couple of people passionate about people management.

The back story: several years ago I wrote a story about sophisticated scheduling applications, including the way companies could take the tools too far. That is, they could try to match staffing levels so closely to customer demand or profitability that they gave workers highly variable schedules and even sent employees home midshift. This causes havoc in personal lives and leads to high turnover and absenteeism—which ultimately bites companies in the bottom line.

One of my major sources was Susan Lambert, a professor at the University of Chicago who has examined the hidden costs of just-in-time scheduling. Another source was Lisa Disselkamp, a business consultant who has specialized in workforce management technology. In the wake of the story, Disselkamp asked me for research about hourly workers in the retail field. I suggested she contact Lambert.

I didn't realize then that this referral would lead to a lot of promising collaboration. Disselkamp went on to spearhead the formation of the WEO, making Lambert the head of its academic advisory council.

The WEO, as we discuss in our upcoming May cover story for Workforce Management magazine, opened its doors last year and is launching a new professional certification next year. Industry groups and technology credentials are widespread. But unlike some professional groups related to people management, the WEO is making employee concerns central. Lambert is writing parts of the book that will serve as the basis of the organization's new Workforce Asset Management Professional certification. The WEO also has been in talks with the U.S. Labor Department and plans to reach out to organized labor.

Let me state for the record that I have no financial stake in the WEO, nor do I have any official role in the organization.

But to me, the WEO is a good example of an all-win approach. Workforce management professionals improve their skills and knowledge; companies get more value out of their software; vendors get happier customers; scholars get a chance to affect the real world of work; and workers get schedules that work for them. We need more business and professional organizations with this sort of inclusive vision.

So I'm proud of my little matchmaking contribution to the WEO. May it go on to do big things.

Ed Frauenheim is senior editor at Workforce Management. To comment, write to efrauenheim@workforce.com.

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