Britt Miller

Britt Miller

  • Wonolo

There are a large number of factors that fall under the broad concept of workforce management. Essentially, it’s ensuring that a business or organization has the necessary team members doing the right things in the business or organization. With so many moving pieces, it can be a difficult task to both undertake and even understand. This post will discuss the broad categories of workforce management.

What is workforce management?

Definition of Workforce Management

CIO Whitepapers Review defines workforce management as, “a synchronized set of procedures that an organization uses to enhance the profitability of its representatives on the individual, departmental, and entity-wide levels.” Beyond being a concept and a framework that managers leverage to get the most out of their teams, workforce management is a term often used to describe “software solutions for contact centers, back offices, and stores that assist organizations to appoint an appropriate person with the precise skills at the right time, to ensure quality customer relations.”

Benefits of a Workforce Management System

Implementing an effective workforce management system offers myriad benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Accurate Overhead: Labor is often the biggest expense of an organization. With no employees things wouldn’t get done. Although, you want increased staff at the right time for your business and not at times when business is naturally slower. A workforce management system alleviates this common problem.
  • Defined Processes: There is so much that goes into a proper management system. While it is an undertaking at first; once the processes are set, it creates more time to lead instead of manage for business owners and operators.
  • Improved Environment: When employees are neither bored nor overloaded with too much work, they tend to be more satisfied in their positions. This improved culture, in turn, often translates to better performance and improved productivity. Not to mention that a happier workforce tends to have fewer issues related to mood that require management and even discipline.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Being busy is great, but when it’s due to being short-staffed, it can create decreased customer satisfaction over time.

Workforce Management Categories

Calculating Need

Understanding exactly what you need, in terms of staffing, comes by taking a look at your historical sales. Then, taking those numbers and forecasting what you expect to need at varying intervals (i.e., 1 year, 5 years, etc.).

Here are few factors to consider when forecasting:

  • Knowing when your business is busy due to seasonality or other consistent factors
  • Your current growth rate
  • Marketing and sales objectives that could cause a higher growth rate
  • Staff attrition rate and accounting for shrinkage
  • Training time and cost for new workers

Obtaining the Workforce

Turnover can be a real issue in many businesses. Warehouses, restaurants, seasonal business models, construction and many other organizations face higher than normal problems in the area of turnover. In these cases, a workforce management plan is crucial for the success and improved profitability of the company.

Training materials and procedures are also a part of maintaining an efficient workforce. Some reduce this simply to “hiring and scheduling,” but the reality of obtaining your workforce should include the detailed processes of getting trainees up to speed. For these reasons, many businesses are switching to a more flexible workforce model. Organizations with high turnover (one of the top workforce management challenges, according to a recent SHRM survey) may benefit from temporary workers skilled in the area needed.

Some instances of this may be:

  • Wait and food staff skilled in serving
  •  Construction
  • Warehouse labor
  • Delivering goods

Coupled with a detailed training process, businesses in these industries regularly can cut down on the time it takes to get people working. Also cutting the overhead that often carries over to slower times of business.

Productivity, Performance, and Satisfaction

Even having the right people, trained correctly and available at the right time isn’t all that matters when it comes to workforce management. Another critical part of this complex equation includes how your employees perform and even enjoy their work.

Proper hiring and training are a large part of the long-term productivity and performance of your team. The other half of this would be the working conditions and overall environment provided to your team. Happy employees are often more productive and stay longer — lowering turnover.

Aside from proper training and clear role definition, here are a few other things to consider for a happy, healthy workforce:

  • Flexible work terms (working from home, vacation time, temporary work)
  • Competitive pay
  • Opportunity for advancement
  • Team-building activities

Best Practices for Implementing a Workforce Management System

Workforce management best practices

If you’re ready to implement a workforce management system, there are a few key considerations to weigh and benchmarks to establish before determining what workforce management solution is right for your organization:

  • Current Forecast: Detailing your current needs will aid you in determining any current issues with your current staffing.
  • Training Processes: Determining how you hire and train workers is another aspect to consider before you actually implement a workforce management system for your business.
  • Workforce Sources: Knowing where you find the employees for your business is often overlooked. Do you have reliable places to find fast and even temporary workers?
  • Current Employee Satisfaction: Not an easy thing to figure out, but there are objective ways to determine if your morale is at a healthy level. Consider things like turnover or do an anonymous survey.
  • Customer Satisfaction: There is a fine line between “popular busy” and “poor quality busy”. Are you meeting deadlines on time? Do people have to wait for their product? These and other questions are always good to ask.

If you are missing the mark you’d like to achieve in your business, it could be time to implement a workforce management system.