Workforce Management | 9 mins read

Workforce Management - What It Is and Why You Need It

workforce management what it is and why you need it
Michelle Jaco

By Michelle Jaco

Workforce management is an integrated process that optimizes productivity. We'll explore its depths and capabilities, as well as why your business needs WFM in order to operate efficiently

To run profitable businesses, the first step is ensuring that the internal workings of a company are running at its very best.

Workforce management systems (when properly maintained) are what keep operations functioning at peak performance. Areas that are directly affected by WFM are employee productivity, labor planning, operational costs, time management, employee attendance, and customer service essentially the brand in its entirety. So, if the workforce is not properly understood and managed, all of these key areas will suffer, and your business will likely fail.

Don't become one of these failing businesses.

What is Workforce Management?

Beginning with the basics, workforce management is defined as an integrated process that a company utilizes to optimize the productivity of its employees. This includes effectively forecasting labor requirements and creating staff schedules to accomplish tasks on a day-to-day basis.

By using a WFM system, other benefits include enhanced customer satisfaction, gained insight into real-time staffing needs, and improved employee attendance.

Although differentiating industries will possess various needs when it comes to prioritization, all of the following factors should be addressed under workforce management.

  • Real-time data
  • Field service management
  • Human resource management
  • Training management
  • Performance management
  • Recruiting
  • Forecasting and Scheduling
  • Analyzing analytics
  • Time tracking

Key Essentials That Must Be Addressed

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1. Scheduling
An important feature of WFM is the ability to schedule employees day-to-day, as well as long-term, like month-to-month. In relation, it's crucial for employee schedules to be accessed from cloud-based systems. This makes the schedule accessibly visible to employees while outside of work, so they can easily access digitally from anywhere. Often times, this includes access from a smartphone (ideal for on-the-go), tablet, and laptop/desktop.

Releasing the schedule early and allowing staff members to view it as soon as possible improves employee attendance, because all personal responsibilities outside of work can be addressed and situated in advance.

2. Time Tracking
Employee time tracking can be one of the more tedious and time-consuming tasks management has to deal with on a regular basis.

Because it's not too uncommon for employees to forgetfully clock in and clock out before and after shifts, it becomes management's duty to manually track discrepancies between who is scheduled and who is clocked in.

Through digitized software, managers and employees are instantly notified with push notifications when a shift is either missed or when an employee is exceeding an allotted shift length. Not only does this feature ensure that all parties are checked in, but also that overtime and labor law compliance risks are minimized.

Automated time tracking also stores a log of real-time punches. The digital record makes it easier for payroll processes to be completed and is easily organized and accessible should an audit take place.

3. Forecasting
Forecasting tools allow employers to predict future staffing requirements based on previous company data. For example, if a company had a surge in business during the late winter months the previous year, forecasting logs that data to estimate how much expected revenue is slated to come in the following winter and provide recommendations for staffing needs.

4. Real-Time Performance Management
When a single establishment expands, turning into several other venues, it can become difficult to manage the multiple locations.

With the proper workforce management software, employers have digital access to each location's staff count, schedule, generated revenue, and labor costs. This means that owners can view these numbers, even when he/she is not on-site or in the office.

Workforce management is on the rise and is projected to grow significantly. A study published by Market Research Future, found that global workforce management is estimated to reach $9 billion by the end of 2022.

WFM systems allow an organization to gain valuable insights regarding the business's progress, like the number of recommended and scheduled employees, are needed to complete a task during various shifts on various days, weeks, or months. It also helps track employees' daily work performance to reward those who are exceeding expectations and identify those who may need more training.

Other detailed needs workforce management systems assist with are

  • Getting the right people to do the right tasks, leading to an increase in profits and productivity
  • Helping measure the current financial situation a business is into lower labor costs and maximize their resources
  • Helping stay compliant to state and federal laws
  • Adding to employee knowledge about how to perform at their highest productivity
  • Improving customer satisfaction, because the business will always be adequately staffed, as well as sufficiently productive

Benefits of Workforce Management

1. Increases Employee Satisfaction and Productivity
Patterns of unhappy employees are often indicated in behavior and attendance.

Low morale is apparent in depression, low energy, and uncharacteristic attitude, leading to an increase in missed shifts and constant sick days, which can be tracked with a time clock.

By implementing workforce management, like a digital timekeeping system, employers can closely monitor such behavior and discuss with the effected employees how to find a solution. When employees are consistently showing signs of dissatisfaction by demeanor and missing shifts, sometimes that's the result of being unhappy with how they are being scheduled.

If the change in mood can be resolved simply by making changes to the schedule, then it would certainly behoove management to do so. Open up that dialogue.

2. Improves Customer Service
With increased employee satisfaction comes improved customer service. Research has shown that employee satisfaction is directly correlated with higher consumer profits. A satisfied employee may

  • Help a business develop a positive and strong brand image, which will attract new and existing customers
  • Retain customers, since satisfied employees are likely to be more engaged with the customer
WFM systems also track attendance history to discover trends, which directly correlate to customer service. For example, if there's a frequent absence trend, management can find strategic solutions to solve it so that customer experience doesn't deteriorate due to unintentional understaffing.

Along with employee satisfaction, workforce management systems allow employers to add customer service performance. Managers can then follow certain criteria to assure employees are engaging with customers and adhering to company standards.

3. Reduces Expenses
Turning employee time and pay calculations into a digital practice eliminate errors and ensure laws and rules are being met during payroll. Research indicates that organizations with optimized workforce management spend 33% less on unplanned overtime.

By using a WFM system this helps reduce expenses by helping businesses comply with federal and state laws, creating accurate forecasting and scheduling, real-time visibility, and increased productivity.

4. Increases Productivity
With an automated approach to workforce management, this allows for more data to be accessible providing the power to create better business decisions.

Being able to hire the right workers, at the right time allows companies to hit production goals without compromising quality. Employers can then make sound business decisions to avoid over or understaffing which helps neutralize labor costs. After implementing a WFM system, employers can spend less time doing administrative work to focus more on their employees and guests.

5. Tracks Time and Attendance
Using digital workforce management allows for easy time and attendance tracking. This reveals attendance patterns for individual employees and helps predict staff and scheduling errors or employee absences in the future. Time and attendance software reduces the time it takes to manually enter employee times, scheduling, or payroll.

With an automated system time and attendance, report can be created instantly. This allows employers to view reports on employee time worked, absences, scheduling, or job and inventory details.

Implementing Workforce Management

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Businesses who are looking to implement workforce management are most likely looking to get rid of manual spreadsheets. One of the biggest challenges to implementing a new system is the hesitation of employees. Employees may have mixed feelings about a new system, they could be excited about the change or nervous. When employees see a drastic change in their workplace, they may assume a drastic change in pay, scheduling, or time off and vacation times. Before switching to an automated system there are a few things employers should consider beforehand

1. Method of deployment
There are different deployment models centered on software-as-a-service (SaaS) or traditional on premise. A SaaS model is accessed via the internet instead of having something that is physically installed or maintained. On premise implementation, however, cannot be accessed outside of company grounds, and it includes in-house installation.

2. Ownership
Something to be considered is who will be responsible for managing the workforce management application. This someone should possess specific skills, and organizations may not have someone suitable for the job. A workforce management provider should provide job descriptions in order for the business to find the correct person to manage their systems.

3. Give comprehensive training
Be sure employees have an adequate amount of time for training to understand the functionality of WFM and all its systems. Reinforce training and then test the training results over a period of time.

4. Implementation
Before implementing a new system across the whole enterprise, it may be wise to introduce the system in stages. Going live is a critical stage, but positive one and this needs to be clearly communicated to all staff and employees before making the switch.

Management should be proactive by making sure all departments have the necessary employees and tools in place, and that all employees understand their role in the transition. Employers communicating with employees are key to the implementation process and can identify any gaps in the process and can create useful feedback moving forward.

5. Track success over time
Whatever deployment a business chooses, it's vital that employers track the success of the solution from day one, so businesses can carefully monitor the success or improvements of the business.

Workforce Management Within a Call Center

A call center is a centralized office where a business receives or transmits a large volume of inquiries via phone. Implementing a WFM system improves the customer experience based on a number of key levels, like

  • Staffing the right amount of agents to the expected work volume
  • Ensure agents fit the right skill sets for the work volume
  • Be sure agents are staffed at the right time and the right place
After these factors are taken into consideration, there are other elements that need to be addressed to create a successfully managed call center

  • More calls in less time
  • A decrease in the number of hours without negatively affecting profits, causing conflicts, or causing client discontent
Satisfied customers will continue doing business with those they feel offer consistent exceptional service.

Workforce management systems are the foundation of optimization in the workplace. WMS cuts labor costs when employers rely on the system for staffing and scheduling decisions. This then allows for accurate monitoring of employee clock in and out times, which in turn increases employee morale and satisfaction, and labor costs.

To create optimization in the workplace employers must make sure they're accurately monitoring each employee's time worked to avoid overtime payments, payroll mistakes, and high labor costs. By accurately tracking employee times this results in higher employee morale, higher productivity, and an increase in guest satisfaction.