In simplest terms, workforce management (WFM) strategically combines processes and procedures to ensure the correct number of people with the appropriate skills are working when and where they are needed. Today’s WFM relies on technology to automate processes like scheduling and, increasingly, to collect and produce data to help organizations make more informed decisions.
The concept of workforce management has been around for a long time, and it's evolved into an increasingly sophisticated process to help companies develop and maintain efficient and productive teams. At its best, workforce management creates happier employees, more satisfied customers, improved efficiency and increased profits.
what does workforce management look like?
Workforce management has long been associated with and used by retailers, call centers and back office support operations. However, this powerful approach can benefit teams across the organization and companies within various industries.
Technology-driven WFM is a process that helps managers:
- forecast staffing needs
- plan for various scenarios
- schedule employee assignments
- operate more efficiently
- report relevant data
- analyze results
By looking ahead, you can better prepare for fluctuating staffing needs during times of heightened or decreased customer activity. Forecasting includes gathering information outside of your department to anticipate external activities that will likely impact how, when and where your team is staffed. People and talent analytics are generally used to support forecasting.
With forecasts in hand, you can next plan how to handle both predicted and unplanned scenarios. A plan helps you proactively prepare for staffing needs, as opposed to reactively managing fluctuating or even emergency situations.
For many companies, scheduling is considered the starting point in making employee assignments. However, when based on a forecast and plan, scheduling is a more informed process that anticipates and supports the needs of customers, employees and the overall organization.
Workforce management is designed to improve operational efficiency. With the right employees working at the right place and at the right time, departments and teams should run more smoothly, which can boost productivity and increase revenue.
Workforce management software systems provide data-driven insights that reveal how staffing decisions impact various outcomes and results.
Through data reporting, managers can track and analyze group and individual performance, including employee absenteeism and attrition, time spent on various tasks, complexity of work assignments and more. Ongoing analysis allows you to continually finesse your strategy to reflect external business trends and internal workplace dynamics.
the agile workplace
Workforce management tools are valuable in helping companies manage traditional staffing requirements. But as workplace trends evolve, WFM strategies can help organizations manage the growing agile workforce, which is characterized by workers’ desires to work when and where they want. Managers can use the principles of workforce management to tackle issues related to flexible schedules, remote work arrangements and contract employee solutions.
a strategic advantage
Many savvy companies today see workforce management as more than a strategy for increasing efficiency and improving productivity. They understand that a well-staffed and happier workforce also improves employee attraction, engagement and retention and ultimately helps them achieve strategic business goals.
To learn more about why WFM is critical for business success, click here.