Mobile Workforce Management in a Labor Shortage

Mobile workforce management is a suite of tools—including processes, software, applications, networks, and related services—used to schedule, monitor, track, and analyze the performance of mobile teams.

By 2022, the mobile workforce is expected to comprise over 42% of the total global workforce. Mobile workforce management systems cater to this important category of the workforce by resolving workers’ daily obstacles. In the process, the system enables disparate data sources to communicate with each other, generate interoperable data that can uncover important business insights to help streamline operations, reduce costs, and uncover new ways to improve efficiency and customer experience while helping increase retention rates and mitigate the challenges of labor shortages.

Today’s Labor Shortage Is Tomorrow’s Opportunity

As of mid-2019, the U.S. had 7.4 million job openings, but only 6 million job seekers. The shortage of workers is not just in STEM fields, but also extends to other positions, such as healthcare aides—most of whom are mobile workers.

The implications of labor shortage are not all bad. It’s a strong indicator that the market is competitive. However, it also means that your organization’s top talent has ample opportunities to move to another company for better perks, higher wages, superior technologies, or other benefits.

Many organizations are responding to this challenge. Some companies have increased wages as a result, but compensation is just one of many motivating factors. Most workers give plenty of weight to subjective factors, as well. 

A mobile workforce management solution can make a significant impact on retaining your workforce by addressing core issues and improving their morale. Let’s see what some of the benefits are:

1. Better Employee Recruitment and Retention

Finding the best workers for the job and then providing them with tools to do their jobs well is crucial. Most organizations struggle with recruiting suitable candidates and later backing that up with investments to retain employees in the form of training, better working conditions, and competitive technologies.

For example, Solace Pediatric Home Healthcare struggled to recruit new clinicians in an industry known for its labor shortage. While EHR systems helped track some metrics, they didn’t provide business insight to help enable strategic decision making.

After Solace implemented a mobile workforce management solution to create a modern, technology-driven approach, which helped them make intelligent recruitment decisions with visibility into schedules, caseload capacities, and openings in different areas. They now knew exactly where to add workers. The company further supported its clinicians by matching them with the right patients considering variables such as travel time, long-term scheduling, and skill set, thereby reducing clinician stress.

The more your technology can support and enable mobile workers, the more likely they are to be satisfied in their role and stay with your organization. 

2. Intelligent Scheduling That Respects Employees’ Time

Feeling appreciated is vital to employee loyalty. In a recent survey, 22% of workers who didn’t feel recognized interviewed for another job within the past three months. Part of recognizing and appreciating your workers is respecting their time. 

For mobile workers, this means optimizing job schedules so they can serve more clients but still have good work-life balance. For example, when you schedule effectively to minimize travel time or make schedule changes easier to communicate with the whole team, workers spend more time with customers and less time traveling or doing administrative work. 

Easterseals Bay Area, a company that provides services to people with disabilities and their families, struggled to scale their manual scheduling processes as demand for their services grew. Upgrading to a mobile workforce management solution simplified their scheduling—it allowed them to match personnel to customers based on factors that simultaneously met their business objectives, customer needs, and employee skill sets.

With better visibility into their schedules and their work needs accounted for, workers experienced less stress. This also led to improved efficiencies and more appointments scheduled and fulfilled each week.

3. Optimized Resource Utilization

Full utilization of resources is especially important in the context of labor shortages, as you don’t have a large bench of employees. Plus, employees who have opportunities to frequently leverage their strengths are less likely to quit their jobs, so this is a win-win situation.

By using technology solutions to allocate and schedule resources, employees can meet with more customers, use every hour productively, and still not compromise their needs or the company’s. For companies, 100% utilization has a direct impact on the bottom line that helps counter a labor shortage.

American Red Cross (ARC), for instance, schedules their 1,250 mobile trainers every year to deliver 60,000 courses to 530,000 individuals. The operational complexity of their training program was magnified by the fact that “each region managed its own instructors separately in spreadsheets and emails, so there wasn’t any system that could provide visibility at the national level into our mobile workforce and how we were scheduling them,” said Joe Zito, vice president of information technology at America Red Cross. 

By implementing a mobile workforce management solution, ARC has reduced the underutilization of its instructors by 31% and reduce the cost of scheduling by 30%. Scheduling is dramatically faster now for the health and safety training division of American Red Cross. With a 43% reduction in time to schedule, the team has discovered new ways to solve old problems, which is no easy feat for a group with a 130-year history.

4. Improved Communication

Miscommunications create a trust deficit, errors, and other problems. Mobile workers often struggle to communicate efficiently with in-office colleagues and customers at different locations.

Mobile workers need to be confident that they have up-to-date schedule information, along with remote access to manuals and other technical documents that enable them to do their job better. This worker empowerment can significantly improve productivity and yield better business outcomes.

Workers are often frustrated with antiquated manual data collection methods and administrative overhead. Mobile workforce management solutions, however, can help them collect and document data while on the move, making the workflow simpler. 

ServiceMaster, a residential and strata cleaning provider, realized that giving field service technicians access to trustworthy data improved technicians’ overall productivity and service levels—and technicians also now are able to deliver a superior customer experience.

5. Better Customer Service

While great service is certainly important from a customer perspective, employees, too, want to work for organizations with good reputations. Mobile workforce management gives workers insight into customer history, job details, and more so they can provide excellent service and spend more time with customers.

Loyal customers want a high-quality experience but are also keen on schedule flexibilities, well-trained service providers, and proactive communication and real-time notifications.

Let’s take the case of Area Wide Protective (AWP), a commercial security firm that manages, schedules, and dispatches roughly 5,000 mobile workers from more than 60 offices across 19 states. As the scale of their offerings grew, their manual methods resulted in inconsistencies and delays. But mobile workforce management improved their scheduling and dispatching efficiency by 86%. These internal improvements translated to customer benefits, too—customers love the transparent communication, competitive pricing, and consistent service that comes from increased efficiency. 

The Mobile Workforce Management Solution 

In a job-seeker’s market, companies can use mobile workforce management to attract, retain, and support deskless workers. Mobile workforce management allows you to use existing resources wisely, accurately forecast future staffing needs, keep workers motivated, and offer interesting growth opportunities to your workforce. 

See how mobile workforce management can help you increase efficiency, retention, and employee satisfaction. Book your free demo to see Skedulo in action!