In this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast, Interview Series, I’m joined by Dirk Häußermann, Co-CEO at ATOSS Software for a conversation about the importance of focusing on employee experience and why this is especially critical in today’s candidate-led job market.
Change and innovation are defining the new normal of the workplace, and companies
need tools to shape this change and processes that put employees center stage. Things like mobile workplaces, customized working times, flexible and innovative work concepts that put people first, a focus on agility — all of these things require intelligent systems and a new kind of business software.
Our conversation started with a discussion about the renewed focus on employee experience that we are seeing in today’s workplace and how digitalization and automation can make a huge impact on workforce planning and management.
Some Background on ATOSS Software
ATOSS Software has been a leader in the workforce management space for 30 years with innovative products and software solutions that help organizations tap into the full potential of their workforce. The best part? Their software including the ATOSS Staff Efficiency Suite is connected to the SAP Human Capital Management platform which is used by thousands of companies around the world.
Putting Humans First in Workforce Management
Employee experience has never been more important than it is today. Our conversation covered how businesses have shifted in the last year to respond to the changes caused by the pandemic. Employees are leaving the workforce in droves for a myriad of reasons, leaving organizations with open positions and few candidates to fill the roles. Dirk shared that organizations need to put humans first. Improving the employee experience will make it easier to attract new talent while also retaining existing talent — key for survival in today’s economy.
Our discussion also covered the following:
- The shift to digitalization and automation that many organizations are experiencing today.
- How workforce management platforms make a difference in a variety of areas include capacity planning, personnel structure optimization, workforce forecasting, and workforce scheduling.
- The companies that can benefit most from workforce management solutions.
- New developments that are on the horizon for ATOSS.
If your organization is looking to improve the employee experience, start by putting humans first with The ATOSS Staff Efficiency Suite, available now on SAP Store. Also be sure to check out our full conversation, I promise it’s one you don’t want to miss.
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Shelly Kramer: Hello, and welcome to this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast. I’m your host, Shelly Kramer, and in this conversation today, we’re going to be talking about unlocking the potential of the human economy with workforce management solutions.
Before we get to that conversation, I just wanted to touch base a little bit. And I know that I probably don’t need to tell anybody that’s watching this LinkedIn Live broadcast, that change and innovation are defining the new normal of the workplace, and companies need new tools to shape this change.
They also need new processes that put employees center stage, and really in the middle of these change processes; things like mobile workforces, customized working times, flexible and innovative work concepts that put people first, and really, a focus on agility. Those are all things that we’ve learned, probably on steroids, after the course of the last 18 months or so, as we’ve navigated a global pandemic.
So, all of these things require intelligent systems and a new kind of business software. And that’s what we’re here to talk about today. My guest is Dirk Häußermann. He’s the Co-CEO at ATOSS Software. And we’re going to have a conversation today about focusing on the employee experience, why this is so important in today’s workforce, and really how to think about that perhaps a little differently than you have before. So with that, Dirk, welcome. It’s great to have you.
Dirk Häußermann: Thank you, Shelly. I’m happy to be on the program with you today.
Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. Well, you’re the highlight of my week so far. So tell us a little bit, if you would, just about yourself, your personal background and your career journey, and then a little bit about ATOSS Software.
Dirk Häußermann: Well, thanks for that. So, I’m 49 years old. I’m the Co-CEO of ATOSS Software. And prior to coming here I’ve worked for many technology companies after studying computer economics. And I’m excited by how we can use technology to make the world a better place. I’m happily married, and my wife and I have two children; and my children always tell me and show me every day, how technology is touching the lives of all of us, and is even more influential in the future.
Having said this, ATOSS is a company that has a DNA that is deeply rooted in workforce management. We enable people to work more creatively, intelligently, and most of all, more humanely, and thereby, revolutionize the interplay of business efficiency and humanity.
This is what we have been doing all along our history. And what we exactly do is we help companies, our customers, to put the right person with the right skill, at the right time, in the right working place, and all of this at optimal cost and compliant. So [inaudible] has led us to over 10,000 customers in more than 52 countries today. That’s what we do.
Shelly Kramer: Well, that’s great. So I think that… I was listening to a program on National Public Radio yesterday, and it was talking about the talent shortage. And this is something that we’re experiencing the world over.
And the focus of this program that I was listening to yesterday was actually about that companies are working so hard to try to recruit new employees that sometimes, they’re paying very large bonuses or they’re offering salaries that are very different from other counterparts in the workforce, and the challenge that that is presenting.
But the bottom line is I think that we are in an economy right now where the employee and/or the candidate for a job, they’re very squarely in control, as it relates to thinking about what does this company offer for me? What does this position offer for me? Will I be happy? Will I be fulfilled? Will I be able to learn and grow and develop in my career?
And all of these things really haven’t always been things that we’ve thought about and talked about as it relates to the workforce. I’m old enough that when I was coming up in my career, there was a time when the economy was really challenged. And I was very lucky to have a job, and I would have been silly to have done anything to jeopardize that job. So whatever it was the company wanted to give me, or however they wanted to treat me was just something that I had to deal with along the way.
But we’re dealing with a different kind of workforce now, a different kind of economy, and I think that’s really fascinating. So speaking of economy, I think we hear the term human economy quite often today as we talk about the current state of the workforce and the workplace and what to expect in the future. So can you tell us a little bit about how you define the human economy?
Dirk Häußermann: Yeah. I mean, I can relate to everything you said here, Shelly. I mean, the focus of what we are here for is really to create this employee experience. That it’s crucial to find the right talent, but to attract the right talent and also to retain the right talent in this oft changing economy, you know?
And I give you an example. Let’s take Industry 4.0 as an example. We are seeing that manufacturing companies all around the world are implementing very automated, highly connected product sites. However, what we should not forget in this transformation that humans will also be involved there.
So it’s not enough to have technology and systems only for the machinery. You need to find out how you can provide an environment that’s also attractive for these humans. Look at another industry, logistics, and we have all seen this during the pandemic, logistics and transportation solutions became more and more crucial.
Again, the demand there is all also for the employees that prepare, pack, deliver the goods to our home. So it’s not only that you manage the supply chain, but you also need to have systems where you can excite your employees, take them along with you, create an environment where they are happy to work. And on the other hand, create an environment that is obviously cost-effective and fuels your growth.
And last, not least, as an example, the healthcare industry, which was under enormous pressure in the past 18 months during the pandemic. Long working hours, regular on-call duties, constant pressure in the working environment, but excellent service. So here again, the employees are in the center.
So to sum it up, you know, this employee experience focus is really on the humans that are delivering these services. Hence we have to put the humans first. And therefore it’s only natural to speak about human economy. Makes sense?
Shelly Kramer: Absolutely makes sense. Absolutely makes sense. So you touched on a little bit, we cover a lot here in the automation space and there’s so many misperceptions about automation and automation… One of the things that I tell… I too learn a lot from my children, I have 15-year-old twin daughters who are sophomores in high school. And one of the things I try to explain to them as they’re thinking about a future career is that, you know, the reality of our workplace is that if it can be automated, it will be automated. If it can be automated, it should be automated.
But that doesn’t, to your point, that doesn’t replace people. Actually in ideal circumstances, automation and people work alongside one another. And the automation sort of takes the heavy lifting of the onerous tasks and repeatable tasks and things like that off of their human counterparts so that we can do the things that we really love, which is critical thinking and really being more valuable to an organization. So I think that’s an important part of the equation.
So, we talked a little bit about, you mentioned a little bit workforce automation and digitalization, and we know of course that the pandemic accelerated this in many, many ways. How are you seeing these changes play out with your customers?
Dirk Häußermann: Yeah. Before I come to that, let me relate to your personal point with the twins. We have twins too, 17 years of age.
Shelly Kramer: High five.
Dirk Häußermann: They are seniors. I can promise you that there’s interesting times ahead of you, no matter what the technology brings.
Shelly Kramer: You know…
Dirk Häußermann: But coming back to the topic, the COVID pandemic is clearly fueling profound changes in the industry, in society, and of course, in workforce digitization, automation for our customers. And they are facing the need to digitize internal processes and include, wherever they can, AI to improve efficiency and drive success.
So managing the internal processes, which for many companies is also deal with the fear of the workforce to be replaced by technology progress. I think that’s what you mentioned with the automation and anything that can get automated will get automated. So we need to make sure this internal process gets managed in a way that we keep people happy in our company and keep them with us.
And on top of that, companies need to manage the social change.
Shelly Kramer: Right.
Dirk Häußermann: By 2025, this Generation Y and Z we just referred to will account for approximately 55% of the overall workforce. And those generations have very different desires than the previous Generation X or our generation, or at least my generation. For instance, the importance of well-balanced work–life balance. Additionally, the fight for good and qualified workforce will be as serious as can be, and therefore we need to assure that this shortage of skilled workers is addressed correctly.
Shelly Kramer: Yes, absolutely. Are you familiar with the term ‘topper’?
Dirk Häußermann: No.
Shelly Kramer: We joke about that. We use this in our family because my mother-in-law who I love dearly is what we call a topper. So whenever you share a story about something that’s happened to you, she can top your experience. And the good thing is she won’t be listening to this broadcast. So I’m safe here. This is my safe place on the internet with thousands of people listening to this conversation.
So you have 17-year-old twins, I have 15-year-old twins, but I’m going to top you because I also have daughters who are in their late 30s. So I can promise you, there’s actually much more ahead of you than you can imagine.
Dirk Häußermann: Okay, I’m out. I’m out.
Shelly Kramer: But I’m insane enough that I did it once and got my two older girls almost through university and then had twins. So I’m certifiably insane. Anyway, there’s my top. There’s my topper. And, but it’s not too late for you. I mean, you could have some more kids if you could get your partner to agree. So it’s not too late.
Dirk Häußermann: I think we should now go back to the program, Shelly. Watch as I get in trouble.
Shelly Kramer: There we go. Okay. So I want to talk now about… so you made some incredibly valid points and this generation is looking for incredibly different things in the workforce than we have. And I think that what is really important for leaders and HR pros throughout the organization to understand is that in many ways, this generation of young people are asking themselves, what’s in it for me? And if it’s too onerous, if the work culture, if the work processes, if the work demands are… and they’re constantly balancing this, what’s in it for me, what makes me happy?
And I think that they think about what makes me happy and fulfilled more than prior generations did. And so I think that as leaders and… And the other thing is is that they’re not at all shy. You know, I think both of us are old enough that we grew up in a time where, if you didn’t stay in a job for at least five years, you were a job hopper. And that was really important.
And today I find all the time that a younger generation of workers, come into an organization and give it a shot. But, you know, they’re pretty savvy. And if things aren’t as they were presented to them when they were recruited, they are not reluctant to make a change. And the other part of that equation is they know they can very easily find a position somewhere else. So it’s not really such a risk to embrace that change.
So I think that it’s just critically important that employers, senior leaders within organizations, HR pros really think about what our culture’s like, what kind of technology are we using to help make our workplace and our workforce more satisfied and just kind of deliver greater value? And that’s really where, you know, all about the employee experience.
So let’s talk about then a little bit, because there are some great technology solutions out there. And one of them is workforce management platforms. So will you talk with us a little bit about workforce management platforms and just how they can really make a difference in how we are able to connect more closely to our workforce?
Dirk Häußermann: Sure. You know, to put it simple, a workforce management platform do design workforce processes that puts humans first without compromising cost efficiency, and therefore creating a win-win situation for companies as well, employees, and even the society that will benefit from that. Because if a company is doing well, of course, the employees are happy and will do well. And therefore the society is doing well.
Let’s use four key answers to the profound changes to clarify how a workforce management platform can make a difference. Now, if we implement workforce technology which puts human in the center, companies can take the consequence of change serious. They want to be ahead of the game. They have to implement technology to put their workforce front and center. This is what workforce management solutions can do. And the example is allowing employees to check their schedule, to request vacations, to swap shifts, to go on their mobile device and request a change in their working time on a Sunday night and have their boss approve it. So it shows us that digital employee experience is a huge success factor for companies.
Moreover, these solutions will not only help companies to increase the motivation and the satisfaction of their workforce; it enhances also the employer branding. And this as you elaborated before, the younger generation are constantly looking around. They are not stuck with a company for 30 years. You know, if somebody has a better branding and is more attractive that they see on the internet every day, they might really considering them as a new working place.
So it’s helping them also to attract new talents, and that’s important in the labor shortage we have. And last, not least, when we put humans in the center, the remote work topic, or we call it here home office in Germany, which of course came up booming during the pandemic. That really solved the problem for desk-less workers.
You know, we, in a suit and tie while working at a computer all day. For us, it’s exciting that we can have time and work from home. But the desk-less workforce is crucial because they make up around 80% of the entire workforce. So remote work as a solution for flexibilization, it’s like when you would think about designing mobility with only bicycles, yeah?
Shelly Kramer: Right. Right. It doesn’t-
Dirk Häußermann: And another point would be to implement this transparency with such a solution and also AI power tools to make the best business decision. And I give you a numbers game here. If you only have 35 employees and you want to schedule three shifts over five days, this would mean already 50 quadrillion possibilities for shift planning.
But I think it’s rather evident that you need AI to support you. Of course, you have experienced shift planners who know by heart whom to schedule. But now taking the employee in the center, they have a hard time when people call in sick, or when people have to care about their mother because she’s ill and then call a day off, to really find the right person at the right time with the right skills.
And that’s… Numbers don’t lie it. So we have all the business intelligence tools out there where we can take the data that is gathered in such a system and create realistic scenarios. And lots of data is out there. And a workforce management tool will help you to make use of this.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, absolutely.
Dirk Häußermann: And maybe to conclude, what’s also important in a workforce management system is a seamless integration of the system. What does it mean? We have already data in HR systems, in ERP systems, in warehousing or production systems. And when we are able to connect them with our workforce, then the real power evolves. Because it’s then clear how many people we need at what workplace, what time, with what qualification.
Shelly Kramer: Right. Absolutely.
Dirk Häußermann: And coming back to the employers themselves, we also can then manage [inaudible] skills. We can check whether they have attended training or they need to obtain additional skills. That such a system can support lifelong learning. And I think this is also very important, not only for younger generations, but for all of us.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. I agree on every front there. So when you think about the kind of solution that we’re talking about, it really starts in the process of helping with workplace forecasting, which helps you predict demand based on the data. And then it helps you schedule the workforce and make that an iterative process.
And then, you know what, one of the things I love about this tool is that the personnel structure optimization capability. So you’re making sure that you’re putting the right people with the right teams in the right place at the right time. You know, all of those things. And then capacity planning is another part of that equation.
So all of those things play a role here, and trying to do that, no matter how smart you are, trying to do that with an Excel spreadsheet is incredibly difficult, and probably not the best path forward, especially for a large organization.
Dirk Häußermann: Absolutely.
Shelly Kramer: So Dirk, one of the things I’d love to talk a little bit more about, you mentioned some applications in different work environments. Healthcare was one of them, where this is a perfect fit. Let’s talk a little bit about some… I’d love to hear more about some of your customers and what kind of companies you work with most often that you see could benefit most from using workforce management solutions and maybe a few use case examples, if you don’t mind sharing.
Dirk Häußermann: Sure, absolutely. So in general, I have to say, we work with companies that want to prepare for a successful future by attracting better and more qualified staff, and by better wanting to utilizing their resources, managing the qualifications of their staff, creating transparency for business decisions, and not having to worry about compliance issues.
And that’s a big topic as well. You know, the one thing is to improve your business. The other thing is that you stay out of jail, because you want to assure that people work at the right time and the right enough time and you don’t step over some boundaries.
So our solution in general is for all industries ranging from retail, manufacturing, logistics to healthcare or services. And of course we have a bunch of great examples that we can share here with you.
So for example, we have a retail customer who uses our AI scheduling to save up to 80% of the time of scheduling compared to prior using our software. We have a logistics company that saves up to 160,000 papers per year because now they switched on digital of course, which is nice for the environment.
But additionally, we have the self-service solution for where, for example, a production company, a customer reduced the time spent only for the vacation requests by 60%. And calculate this by 1,000, by 5,000 by 10,000 employees, you can make the business case here how quickly this turns around and provides an ROI for all of these companies.
Shelly Kramer: So I think there are some really interesting new features and new developments with the ATOSS platform that you’re… that I’m excited about hearing more about. Will you share some of the details there for us?
Dirk Häußermann: Sure. So we continuously deliver innovation for our customers. That’s for sure. As for the European Union, we are the number one leader in terms of R&D spend for workforce management solution. For our on premise customers, we release three updates per year with the innovation, and for our cloud customers we are doing this constantly, which is in the nature of the cloud.
To name a few new features and developments, of course, we see cloud solutions as the absolute future also for workforce management solutions. That’s why we are heavily investing in our cloud solution that enables every customer to access and use our solutions immediately, independent of their own infrastructure.
But secondly, we are also working more on implementing additional features to our mobile solution to allow employees and their leaders to handle their workforce management processes on their mobile device. I think these are the big two topics, the cloud world and the mobile work that we bring together.
So having said this, I mean, we are constantly working on innovations to come closer to our vision, to revolutionize the interaction of cost efficiency and humanity. That’s what I elaborated on in the beginning. And therefore to reshape the work-life environment for tomorrow with our workforce management solutions. This is what we are here for, and this is what we will continue to do.
Shelly Kramer: Well, it is evident, Dirk, that you and your team are incredibly passionate about that. And I think that’s a mission that, I think one of the things that I love most about what I do is that I get up every morning excited about the work that I get to do and the customers that I get to do it with. And when you’re involved in the kind of work that you and your team at ATOSS are involved in, I think that that passion really shows. So it makes a lot of sense. And what you’re doing is exciting stuff, for sure.
Dirk Häußermann: Thank you very much.
Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. Well, I think that wraps up our show today. For those of you watching on LinkedIn Live, thank you for hanging out with us today. And for those of you watching on YouTube, don’t forget to hit that subscribe button. And if you’re on our podcast channel, don’t forget to hit that subscribe button.
I will include in our show notes a link to connect with Dirk on LinkedIn. And of course I’ll include a link to ATOSS so that you can explore their solutions more fully if you’d like to. And with that, Dirk, thank you for hanging out with me and spending some time with me this morning. And for our audience, thank you also for hanging out and listening to with us today.
Dirk Häußermann: Thank you. It was a pleasure and honor. All the best. Bye-bye.
Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. Bye-bye.