Learn About Workforce Management
What is Workforce Management (WFM)?
In today’s fast-paced business environment, choosing and executing a viable strategy for optimizing workforce management is a daunting task. Digital transformation continues to drive the evolution of workplace strategies; and a new business world requires up-to-date tools and processes to remain effective.
Your organization’s workforce operations are the lifeline to its profitability and success, but consistently managing them for greater efficiency, productivity, and performance can be complex.
With the right strategies and solutions in place, your business can keep high level management in the best possible position to stay ahead of the curve and current with the growing complexity of workforce management.
What is Workforce Management (WFM)?
Workforce management (WFM) refers to the processes and tools a company utilizes to empower its workers to best perform their jobs. The overall goal of WFM is to maximize the organization’s resources while boosting productivity, efficiency, and satisfaction of both employees and customers alike.
Importance of Workforce Management
Workforce management is critical for understanding how your employees are currently performing, identifying areas for improvement, and eliminating the barriers to success. This is a difficult feat under the simplest of scenarios, but as customer expectations rise, the global marketplace expands, and your business scales, workforce management can become even more complex.
Effective workforce management helps company leaders more effectively empower their employees to do their best work. Modern, competitive organizations have enlisted the support of workforce management systems, which enable them to better oversee workforce operations and arm their workers with tools for increased productivity and impact.
These technologies eliminate the guesswork of managing a workforce, and enable leaders to make data-driven decisions that, ultimately, boost their bottom line. Plus, they bolster employee satisfaction by offering tools that support workers’ desires to be efficient, reliable, independent, and self-organized—which, in turn, improves worker retention rates.
Without an adequate workforce management system, organizations often find it challenging to gain the type of visibility required to maintain productivity and efficiency (while still offering worker autonomy), particularly in the face of ever-changing business needs, objectives, and obstacles. They also struggle to accurately forecast labor requirements, understand and improve performance, or ensure regulatory compliance.
Key Workforce Management Processes
While every business is different (and so, too, is their approach to workforce management), there are some key WFM processes that they must address and optimize for success. Common areas include:
- Scheduling – Creating efficient schedules that meet customer demands while also aligning with business-rules and objectives is a key part of managing a workforce. Managers must ensure that the right worker is matched with the right job (based on qualifications, certifications, location, availability, and more) in order to assure job completion, customer satisfaction, and an optimized use of resources.
- Labor forecasting – Forecasting future labor needs is an absolute must for healthy workforce management, especially as labor shortages threaten an organization’s ability to properly serve its customers. Hiring and scheduling too few or too many workers in periods of higher or lower demand can seriously hurt a business’s bottom line, so planning ahead accurately (based on real-time and historical resource gaps and financial trends) is crucial.
- Employee performance management – There are several key performance indicators (KPIs) that businesses should track and analyze to improve workforce visibility and break down obstacles to make it easier for employees to deliver excellent customer experiences. Metrics like job completion rate and utilization should be consistently evaluated against the organization’s priorities to keep workers engaged, productive, and successful.
- Absence management – A significant factor in keeping a workforce engaged, satisfied, and performing at their best is offering a work-life balance that doesn’t negatively impact operations. Leaders need effective strategies for absence management to easily track, plan for, and handle employee PTO and extended leaves of absence without sacrificing customer service.
- Analytics – Managing and improving workforce analytics is a shot in the dark without robust data and analytics to support your decisions. Advanced analytics help leaders leverage smarter strategies around utilization, scheduling, budgeting, hiring, the customer experience, and more.
- Regulatory compliance – As a business scales and their workforce continues to grow, maintaining regulatory compliance becomes more complex. But ensuring that they’re constantly abiding by labor laws, security compliance standards, and other company policies is crucial for protecting workers, customers, and the business as a whole.
- Budgeting – Without efficient budget planning, organizations waste precious time, money, and resources trying to estimate, allocate, and adjust the cost of controlling workforce operations. A vital part of successful workforce management is optimizing productivity and spend by accurately quantifying how much—and what types of—labor are needed to achieve specific business goals.
- Recruitment – Recruiting suitable candidates requires in-depth visibility and knowledge around scheduling, capacity, and openings in different areas. To properly support and manage their workforce, leaders need to know exactly where to add workers, and what types of expertise, experience, qualifications, and skills those workers should have.
Benefits of Workforce Management
Strong workforce management isn’t as easy as purchasing every shiny new tool that promises improved productivity and performance. It requires sophisticated strategies and careful investment into solutions that are purposefully built to empower your workforce operations; but the juice is certainly worth the squeeze.
Effective workforce management helps organizations reap significant benefits, including:
- Improved productivity – Workforce management optimizes scheduling, performance, time tracking, communication, and more through centralized tools and processes, so employees face less downtime and fewer inefficiencies across their daily work. This frees up their time to focus on what really matters: serving customers.
- Minimize compliance risks – Labor and worker safety laws can change by state, region, or even city, but effective workforce management strategies and solutions help businesses easily track and comply with those policies to mitigate risk. With the right tools, managers can automate workflows to ensure workplace laws and regulations are always followed, and that these details are properly recorded in case of a potential audit.
- Reduced labor costs – Businesses must find ways to reduce labor costs without also reducing headcount, benefits, or their quality of service; and workforce management helps them do just that. Powerful solutions help them optimize scheduling to reduce unnecessary downtime, automate repetitive tasks, boost workforce productivity, and quickly identify jobs for which they should outsource more specialized workers, enabling them to drive down costs while improving operational efficiency.
- Increased customer satisfaction – Workforce management empowers workers to delight clients at every turn, even as customer expectations continue to grow. They’re always fully prepared and well-equipped to arrive at appointments on-time, armed with the right resources to ensure personalized service and job completion every time.
Workforce Management Challenges
Of course, consistently effective workforce management doesn’t come without its challenges. If that were the case, every business would already be running its workforce operations like a well-oiled machine.
In an age where remote work is on the rise and 80% of the global workforce is now deskless, communication and collaboration have greatly suffered. Though many businesses have leaned on disparate communication tools (like Slack, email, text messages, etc.) for support, these disconnected apps and platforms leave much to be desired. They simply don’t equip workers to communicate with their supervisors, colleagues, or customers in the reliable, streamlined manner required for seamless collaboration and unencumbered productivity.
A lack of integration across systems also threatens leaders’ ability to properly manage their workforce, as tool sprawl just exacerbates issues of inefficiency and wasted time. This is usually a result of well-intentioned leaders investing in various tools to try to make their workers’ lives easier and more productive. But in reality, failing to integrate those systems creates data silos, sticky workflows, and time-consuming frustrations that actually hinder workforce management rather than enhancing it.
In the long term, these challenges negatively impact the business in crucial ways, including higher employee turnover rates, decreased engagement, difficulties in talent acquisition, and a poor customer experience. Employees need to feel connected in order to remain engaged in their work, and insufficient communication wears down the threads that should tie them to their coworkers, customers, and performance.
Disconnected systems don’t enable the robust, real-time data needed to make smart decisions around workforce operations, so leaders can’t incite positive change to processes and workflows when they most need to. What’s more, employees waste time and energy entering and re-entering data into various systems of record, which slows down their productivity and distracts them from higher-value tasks.
Labor shortages are common across most industries, and an inability to empower workers with highly-integrated, intelligent tools and streamlined processes by way of superior workforce management can make it difficult to attract and retain top talent.
Functions of a Workforce Management Solution
As the importance of workforce management has become increasingly evident, various systems and solutions have popped up to support more modern, competitive strategies. But it’s vital to note that not all solutions are built equally; and there are certain functions and capabilities that are absolutely essential for enabling effective operations.
Sophisticated workforce management solutions automate otherwise repetitive or tedious manual tasks, like scheduling, time and attendance tracking, payroll, and more. Eliminating the burden of these tasks from workers’ shoulders makes the entire time more efficient, and also reduces the risk for human error.
Some systems also boast advanced analytics and actionable reporting, so leaders can swiftly make evidence-based decisions and utilize deep insights that boost performance. They connect and centralize data from other existing systems, making it easier for teams to uncover any inefficiencies, improve service delivery, and gain a better understanding of what their team needs to succeed.
Choosing a Workforce Management Solution
As companies continue on the path to digital transformation and their operational strategies shift to better reinforce their workforce, new trends have started to emerge. This includes:
- Utilization of workforce management software – Many businesses look to workforce management software to automate and assign tasks more efficiently. These systems track employee time, generate worker schedules, and help enable better absence management—all while collecting and storing data in a single, centralized place. Because it tracks worker progress and performance in real-time and over time, WFM software empowers managers to oversee their workforce, identify issues, and make improvements to the operation. It also streamlines communication across the organization and its customers, so everyone is always on the same page.
- Utilization of scheduling software – While simple scheduling tools (like online calendars and spreadsheets) won’t get you very far in terms of effective workforce management, sophisticated scheduling software can alleviate a heavy burden from administrators’ and managers’ shoulders. Automated scheduling tools are backed by powerful AI, and can instantly match the right employee for each job based on certifications, skills, location, and other factors that are important to your business and your customers. By replacing outdated, manual scheduling processes, intelligent scheduling software can increase worker efficiency, reduce operating costs, and help teams meet customer expectations with ease. These technologies handle high capacities of incoming requests and automatically generate fully optimized schedules, so the business can serve more customers, maximize operations for a balanced workload, and achieve key outcomes.
- Integration across platforms – True digital transformation isn’t about adopting the newest technologies to see what sticks: It’s about implementing technologies into every aspect of a business operation, and integrating them for greater workforce efficiency. More organizations are recognizing the value of eliminating silos across their tech stack and connecting their systems for a single, centralized source of truth. The right tool can help businesses integrate all their crucial data in one place, which helps them predict when they’ll need more staff coverage, better identify opportunities, and accurately measure performance. Since digitally-minded organizations are 26% more profitable than their peers, a fully integrated digital approach is well worth the effort.
- Mobile accessibility – Your organization’s tools, resources, and data are only valuable if your employees have complete, real-time access to them—regardless of where they are. Competitive companies are investing in solutions, like mobile device management (MDM) software, which allow employees to upload and access data from anywhere without the risk of storing that data in temporarily insecure systems. When workers have unmitigated, instant, and seamless access to customer, job, and company data, they’re better prepared to complete their daily work with efficiency and confidence. This also eliminates the time-consuming step of re-entering data into a centralized system of record after they complete a job; and reduces the risk for duplicate, missing, or erroneous data that can result in inaccurate reporting and subpar decision-making.
Powerful Technology to Manage Your Workforce with Ease
While point solutions can certainly help your business manage its workforce in the (very) short term, disconnected, singularly-focused technologies create a fragmented approach to running your operation as it scales. Effective workforce management requires a holistic strategy for optimizing processes, empowering employees, and understanding what’s working and what isn’t so you can adjust things before it’s too late.
Skedulo’s mobile workforce management platform ties everything together in one place. With tools for intelligent job matching, automated scheduling and dispatching, progress and performance management, centralized communication, real-time analytics, seamless data collection, and more, Skedulo enables businesses to leverage strong workforce strategies that give them a leg up against competitors.
Learn more about how to choose the right workforce management solution for your business, or book a demo today.