This post is part of our new Future of HR series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
The following is an interview we recently had with Chris McCullough, CEO and Co-founder of Rotageek.
1. What’s the history of Rotageek? Where and how did you begin?
CM: Rotageek’s story starts back when I was an A&E doctor trying to solve the scheduling issues in my department.
Rotas were handed around on pieces of paper, and people couldn’t swap shifts easily or fit work around their own lives. I began working on a project with my two co-founders, Nick Mann & Roy Pounder, with the aim of fixing A&E staffing and maybe taking the tech to other areas of the NHS. We were trying to solve a problem, not so much create a company.
Then in 2013, we started to get a lot of inbound interest about our product – from different types of business, from a veterinary practice to a gym. After about 6 months of getting calls, we realized there was something in this. Long story short, soon after that point, I left my job in medicine after 16 years to dedicate myself to Rotageek.
2. What specific problem does your company solve? How do you solve it?
CM: We work with the principle of ‘right people, right place, right time’, which is what companies have always tried to do with scheduling. There are so many variables in play when developing schedules that it can be too time-consuming – or not possible – to find the optimal solution. That’s where we come in. We give our customers the visibility to make informed decisions when creating rotas. With our software it’s also possible to consider employee preferences in a way that is fair and transparent, helping companies engage with and empower their staff.
We take various data sets like demand, footfall, transaction data – some measure of business need – and match that to staff availability and preference. We take that data and work with various constraints – such as skill mix, budgets and/or limited time directives – and create an optimal solution. That’s then delivered to the person creating the schedule and they can then give it a ‘human’ sense check.
But this goes beyond just scheduling, it’s about being able to consider more variables, but also making that data work harder for your business – such as using it to predict future demand. Most companies can’t do that effectively as there are limits to their existing data. For example, transaction data is often used to predict demand but that doesn’t always convert. Transactions can saturate if it’s busy, and footfall won’t necessarily equal transactions. We help our customers make sense of conflicting data sets, or create new sources of data.
3. What’s the future of HR?
Prediction #1: The future of HR will involve a more reciprocal relationship between employers and their staff. We are seeing that, with the rise of Millennials, staff are demanding more from their employers and that includes flexibility, digital engagement, and a better work-life balance. Technology has empowered employers to deliver this. The employment market is increasingly competitive, and with the potential that Brexit may limit the pool of available staff, companies need to embrace employee engagement and work flexibility in order to be an attractive employer.
Prediction #2: Technology is having its moment right now, and one of the great but probably less obvious bits about that it will enable the ‘human’ to come back into focus. It’s up to us, as technology makers and users, to define the rules upon which technology works. If these are orientated towards wellbeing and better staff to employer relationships, then technology will be able to find the best possible solution for this.
Prediction #3: Finally, we’ll increasingly see good HR concepts and ideas from the private sector being adopted by the public sector. Throughout my years in medicine, I came across a number of challenges which could have — and should have — been avoided with the help of technological developments. It’s great to see the tide turning, and I’m excited to see tech improving citizen experience of public services, and the lives of workers.
4. What are the top 3 technology you're seeing in HR?
Trend #1: Top is the rise of workforce management add-ons. Businesses need more than software that can create scheduling templates. The best workforce management technologies will also enhance employee engagement, help track activities, and also be easy to link to payroll.
Trend #2: We’re also seeing ways to use HR tech to streamline wider business operations. Data can be used to do more than simply help develop efficient schedules. It can also be matched to help inform predictive technologies, such as matching forecasted customer or passenger traffic with scheduling technology, to help organizations meet demand and grow sustainably. This means all operations can be planned according to real data.
Trend #3: Finally, with more companies offering remote working, we’re also seeing a big shift towards cloud-based services. This means employees can easily access systems from anywhere – even on the move, with mobile apps becoming a necessity rather than an add-on!
5. Why is the HR industry ripe for disruption?
CM: Technology is transforming the world as we know it, but with so much on offer, it can be difficult for organizations to work out what should be adopted first. We have seen more customer-centric technology take precedent in the past, but HR is now coming back to centre-stage. The incoming millennial workforce has grown up with technology and won’t settle for second-rate HR systems – there’s a real “innovate now or get left behind” mindset. So the HR industry is now working to future-proof itself.
About Chris McCullough
Before founding Rotageek, Chris worked in the NHS as an A&E doctor for 8 years. He witnessed the importance of staff scheduling every single day, and knew technology could solve the problems scheduling can cause so he set about developing Rotageek with his co-founders. This experience means he understands more than anyone exactly why doctors and rostered employees in businesses become frustrated. He also knows how this can be fixed and, in turn, create a more loyal and productive workforce.