What is workforce management and how it works?

What is workforce management

Nowadays, the term “workforce management” is a popular one in an office setting. But, what exactly is workforce management? What is its importance in the workplace? How do you implement it?

Here’s everything you need to know.

How does workforce management work? 

According to the definition, Workforce Management (WFM) is a set of processes meant to maximize the performance levels and competency for an organization.

This set of processes involve all activities meant to build and maintain a productive workforce – as such, they include:

  • Real-time data collection 🗄️ – i.e. collecting workforce stats about performance management.
  • Field service management (FSM) 🚗 – i.e. managing the company resources currently located at the client’s property (e.g. vehicles, dispatchers, inventory…).
  • Human resources management (HRM) 👩 – i.e. managing the people employed or involved in an organization or company.
  • Training management (TM) 👩‍🏫 – i.e. carrying out employee training within an organization or company.
  • Performance management (PM) 📈 – i.e. making sure employee activities and their outputs meet the company or organization goals.
  • Recruiting efforts 🤝 – i.e. reaching out, shortlisting, and then selecting candidates suitable for job positions in a company or organization.
  • Budgeting efforts 💲 – i.e. planning and using the company’s monetary resources for external or internal projects.
  • Forecasting ⛅ – i.e. predicting the future outcomes of current work.
  • Scheduling 📅 – i.e. planning, controlling, and optimizing work in a company or organization.
  • Carrying out the analytics 📊 – i.e. analyzing the current situation in a business or company and then providing recommendations on how to make improvements in the future.

Workforce management is applicable to different types of businesses, companies, and organizations – however, it is often tied to work in a contact/call center.

What is a workforce management system?

A Workforce Management system is a process that ensures you stay on track with the implementation of the listed workforce management processes.

To make the system efficient, you can follow a couple of carefully laid-out steps that bind some of the more crucial workforce management processes:

  1. Gather the data – for example, you can track the time spent working to make sure you’re able to:
    • make accurate forecasts for your future workload
    • make new hires where necessary
    • delegate and schedule tasks better
  2. Forecast the workload – for example, you can:
    • analyze the information from your time tracking app
    • use it to make predictions about the workload awaiting you in the future.
  3. Calculate the staff requirements  – for example, your time tracking results may show that your current staff is spending too much time on their tasks, and perhaps even missing deadlines as a result. This is a clear indication that you may need to hire more people to help up with your workload in the future.
  4. Build staff schedules – for example, your time tracking results can tell you how you should schedule your staff and assign tasks:
    • If Sheila gives faster results of higher quality for a certain type of task, then you should assign her with that task each time it comes up in the future.
    • If Mark is shown to be the most productive worker in a night shift, then you should call him up to work this shift in urgent situations.
  5. Asses everyone’s daily performance – for this step, use the hours your team spends working do answer the following questions:
    • Are the selected assignees really doing that well with their assigned tasks?
    • Is your staff achieving high results on a whole?
    • Are the new hires really helping you achieve more?

What is the importance of workforce management?
What are the advantages of efficient workforce management?

Workforce management is important within a company or organization due to its advantages –  in gist, it helps you deal with all the important details your business needs:

🔹It makes sure you get the right people to do the right tasks, at the right time, and in the right place. As a result, you’ll likely see an increase in profits and productivity within your company or organization.

🔹 It helps you analyze the current situation in your company. As a result, you’ll be able to maximize resources, and lower labor costs, all without lowering the quality of the work.

🔹 It helps you stay compliant with national, local, and union laws. As a result, you’ll keep your business fully operational and legal.

🔹 It helps people providing services with the knowledge of how they can perform their work faster. As a result, you’ll increase your customer satisfaction.

As the ultimate result, you’ll likely help your company grow in productivity, but also increase your professional reputation.

What does a Workforce Manager do?

People in charge of workforce management in the workplace are usually in charge of:

  • Managing processes – i.e. establishing and carrying out the relevant goals, policies, and procedures in a company or organization.
  • Managing finances – i.e. directing and overseeing all financial activities, including everything related to project budgets.
  • Overseeing production – i.e. managing activities related to making products.
  • Overseeing service provision  – i.e. managing activities related to providing services.
  • Carrying out the necessary consultations – i.e. making arrangements with teams, executives, and department heads about company operations and goals.
  • Carrying out client and partnership negotiations – i.e. negotiating, but also approving all client and partner contracts.
  • Handling appointing – i.e. picking and appointing department heads and team managers.

Sometimes, the owner of the company carries out most of these duties.

Other times, however, an official Workforce Manager takes on these responsibilities – on average, they earn a $75,900 salary per year.

What does a Workforce Management Analyst do?

A Workforce Management Analyst carries out a more specific role in the process of workforce management. They’re usually in charge of:

  • Problem-solving – i.e. gathering and organizing information around a particular problem that needs to be solved.
  • Information processing – i.e. gathering and organizing information around a particular procedure or policy that needs improving.
  • Personnel assessment – i.e. assessing the current personnel to determine the type of personnel that will be needed in the future.
  • Equipment assessment – i.e. making onsite observations to determine the equipment that will be needed in the future.
  • Finance analysis – i.e. scrutinizing expenses related to equipment and personnel in relation to the revenue, to find room for improvement.
  • Finding alternatives to outdated practices – i.e. suggesting new apps, practices, and workflows the company can adopt in order to make improvements.
  • Overseeing the implementation of changes – i.e. making sure the accepted changes are carried out according to plan and that they bring the promised results.

Some Workforce Management Analysts work for one specific organization or company.

However, most of them work on a contractual basis – their specific duties vary from contract to contract.

In any case,  Workforce Management Analysts make a salary of $46,287 per year – based on the average hourly rate in the amount of $16.24 you’ll need to pay for their services per hour.

What is workforce management software?

If you’re looking for an efficient way to handle your workforce management, you can try out a workforce management software. There are various types of workforce management software, in line with the fact that workforce management includes a large number of different activities.

You can benefit from using time tracking software, scheduling software, a communications platform, a human capital management system, or an HR solution for talent acquisition and employee engagement.

Here’s how the time tracking software Clockify can help you manage your workforce.

Clockify
Clockify works as free workforce management software meant to help you carry out workforce management processes in a quick and easy way – all based on the time everyone tracks on their tasks and projects.

You assign tasks and create related projects where your team can track their progress with assigned tasks.

Then, the employees track the time they spend on their assigned tasks and automatically store this data into one system.

You can then analyze this data to forecast future workload, calculate staff requirements, make decisions about staff schedules, as well as assess everyone’s daily performance.

In addition to tracking work, you can also track time off, sick leave, and vacations – all as separate projects you can then easily generate reports of.

Clockify also works great if you want to improve your workflows and scheduling by tracking attendance.

An example of successful workforce management

We previously mentioned that call centers are traditionally the types of organizations that rely on workforce management.

Here’s how it looks like when a call center successfully implements the practice of workforce management – and what efficient workforce management looks like in general.

The purpose of workforce management within a call center is to:

Ensure the right number of agents for the expected workflow

Ensure the agents have the right set of skills to handle the expected workflow

Make sure the agents are staffed at the right time

Make sure the agents are staffed at the right place

Once the 4 steps have been completed, other elements need to be met in order to call a call center successfully managed:

☑️ More calls made in less time

☑️ There is a decrease in the number of working hours, without negatively affecting revenue

☑️ There is a decrease in the number of working hours, without causing conflicts

☑️ There is a decrease in the number of working hours, without causing client discontent

In order to achieve this, call centers need to:

  • create an efficient workflow
  • be accurate with your forecasting
  • methodical when assigning tasks
  • systematized with your scheduling

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide for each point:

Steps to creating a successful workflow ⌛

The purpose of creating a successful workflow is to speed up the processes in a call center, but without decreasing the quality of the service:

  1. Figure out what you’re looking to achieve –  Do you want to encourage repeat behavior? Or are you more focused on hitting certain targets? Act accordingly.
  2. Record and monitor your calls –  find the ones that “work”, i.e. help you achieve your goals.
  3. Hold group sessions – have everyone listen to the successful calls.
  4. Pick apart why the said calls work so well – what are the elements that helped close the deal?
  5. Take notes and replicate success – aim to replicate the elements of the said successful calls in future calls.
  6. Rinse and repeat – reuse successful elements for every call appropriate.

Steps to successful forecasting ☂️

The purpose of forecasting in a call center is to reach targeted service levels, but also keep staffing costs under control:

  1. Analyze the current data – figure out what are the handle times for each type of call, what is the number of successful calls, what is the number of short calls, etc.
  2. Find a balance between supply and demand – make sure your number of agents fits the number of clients that will need to be covered.
  3. Strive for forecast accuracy – make sure your measure forecast accuracy at hourly, rather than daily intervals.
  4. Factor in all the unexpected factors – for example, calls may be more frequent during popular conventions or sporting events).
  5. Factor in all the possible changes  – for example, you may find an increase of volume during certain days or months or a decrease during the holidays).

Steps to successful scheduling 📆

An efficient schedule helps you carry out a maximum of calls with maximum effort: 

  1. Be smart about scheduling – ensure your top agents are available during peak hours.
  2. Make schedules worth the effort for agents – Provide extra incentives to top agents to always work during peak hours.
  3. Factor in non-work activities – adjust the time or breaks, lunches, meetings, and actual calls in accordance with each other.
  4. Take advantage of the extra time – provide agents with other secondary work when they’re not working on calls.
  5. Be flexible – provide agents with the option to choose to work a condensed work week if they need to.
  6. Be prepared – keep back-up agents for an unexpected situation when the scheduled agent cannot work the expected shift.
  7. Have the staff match the workload – if necessary based on demand levels, hire more agents.
  8. Be methodical and fast when addressing problems – monitor the calendar and aim to address issues as soon as possible.

Steps to successful assigning 📞➡️

Matching the right agent with the right client will greatly improve customer satisfaction:

  1. Assign calls according to the department – i.e. depending on whether the agents working in sales, marketing, or support can best answer.
  2. Assign calls according to the’ skill sets – i.e. depending on the agent’s area of expertise and the tasks they’ve proven the most skilled during training sessions.
  3. Assign calls according to knowledge – i.e. depending on the agent’s proficiency with a type of software or knowledge about a particular product feature.
  4. Assign calls according to language – i.e. depending on the agent’s proficiency in the language spoken by the client.
  5. Assign calls according to demographics – i.e. depending on the agent’s understanding of the needs of a particular age group.
  6. Assign calls according to a geographic location – i.e. depending on the agent’s understanding of the needs of a particular nation.

In conclusion…

Workforce management is a set of processes focused on helping you maximize the performance of your employees in order to reach your company’s predefined goals.

It’s a wide-reaching system that cautions you to keep an eye on all important details in your business.

As such, it should be a staple in any company or organization looking to streamline work processes, increase productivity, stay compliant, as well as have satisfied customers and clients.

By |2019-12-09T15:26:46+00:00November 15th, 2019|Categories: Business|

About the Author:

Marija Kojic is a productivity writer who's always researching about various productivity techniques and time management tips in order to find the best ones to write about. She can often be found testing and writing about apps meant to enhance the workflow for freelancers, remote workers, and regular employees. Appeared in G2 Crowd Learning Hub, The Good Men Project, and Pick the Brain, among other places.

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