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What is workforce management?

If you have employees, you need a workforce management strategy. Our guide dives into the basics of WFM so you can implement it into your business.

Af Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Senest opdateret April 2, 2024

What is workforce management?

Workforce management (WFM) is a set of processes and technologies a business can use to manage employees and resources, optimize productivity, and ensure the organization complies with laws and regulations. The overarching goal of WFM is to create as much efficiency as possible.

Many people can attest to cooking a nostalgic family recipe only to discover it isn’t quite how grandma used to make it, realizing later that it’s missing the secret ingredient—whether it’s a pinch of nutmeg, some lemon zest, or an extra can of cream of mushroom—that makes the dish so special.

For a business, workforce management can be the secret ingredient that transforms operations from satisfactory to spectacular.

WFM focuses on tasks like employee scheduling, payroll management, and short- and long-term goal development and impacts the overall employee experience. Read on to learn how you can add workforce management to your organization’s recipe for success.

Why is workforce management important?

Workforce management is important because it can help expedite employee scheduling, future initiatives, and budgeting, acting as the key ingredient that drives organizations to be as efficient as possible.

With a successful WFM strategy, businesses can take actions in the short term that increase productivity immediately, like schedule adherence, automatic scheduling, and AI-powered workload forecasting—things that make a manager’s job easier and keep employees on track. Additionally, WFM can contribute to long-term goal setting and improvements with strategies that give historical data on your teams’ performance.

Benefits of workforce management

Workforce management can aid organizations in several ways. Below are some of the top benefits for businesses implementing WFM processes.

List of workplace management benefits

Cost reduction

Payroll is a large expense for most businesses. When businesses put every dollar to good use, they can reduce unnecessary costs. Through precise employee scheduling and accurate workforce forecasting, organizations can limit overstaffing and excessive overtime and ensure each employee operates as efficiently as possible.

Strategic planning

A good workforce management system gives insight into business trends and performance analytics, providing a springboard for optimizing strategies. With WFM, businesses can make sure they have the right number of employees working at the right time, analyze company trends related to performance (like revenue per employee), and build off other data to create long-term improvements. Furthermore, businesses can leverage WFM principles to plan for retirements and resignations so they always have a stream of top talent.

Improved productivity

WFM principles like workforce allocation and performance monitoring can optimize productivity and ensure employees are operating in the right role for their skill set. And, if an employee isn’t working efficiently, managers can easily identify training opportunities or other roles that may be a better fit for the employee. Additionally, employers can compare team-wide performance metrics against those of similar companies to determine whether they need to adjust their processes.

Enhanced employee satisfaction

Workforce management promotes balanced workloads and consistent schedules through processes like staffing forecasts, which ensure that team members have ample notice of their future work schedule and that there are always enough workers on a given shift. This brings predictability to employees’ lives, allowing them to achieve a better work-life balance while potentially reducing burnout.

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Components of workforce management

Every business is unique, and no two workforce management processes are identical. However, there are some core components that WFM solutions should include.

List of key elements of workplace management

Staff forecasting and scheduling

Businesses need to accurately predict future workforce needs—too many employees at one time results in wasted labor budgets, while too few can impact efficiency and customer service levels. This is a universal requirement for successful operations, regardless of whether companies implement general WFM, call center workforce management, or a different industry-specific approach.

Finding that scheduling sweet spot can be difficult, however, as organizational trends, employee skill levels, and changing consumer preferences are all common factors that can impact staffing requirements. With workforce management, businesses can create accurate schedules time after time and find the perfect balance between efficiency and labor cost optimization.

Time and attendance tracking

Time and attendance tracking—monitoring and recording employees’ hours, time off, and, in certain cases, their productivity—is crucial for both hourly and salaried teams. This data is essential for calculating payroll, optimizing efficiency, and complying with labor laws and regulations. Additionally, teams can use WFM time tracking to enhance employee experience management and ensure timesheets are always accurate.

Real-time team management

Real-time team management allows businesses to monitor employee schedules and customer demand on an hourly basis. This enables teams to make on-the-fly adjustments to schedules and resources so operations are running as efficiently as possible. This key WFM component can also highlight training opportunities and process improvements to keep businesses operating at peak levels consistently.

Reporting and analytics

Workforce management can help businesses make strategic, data-driven decisions through reporting and analytics features. With the help of WFM software, organizations can gather information on employee performance, attendance, turnover rates, and other important metrics like revenue per employee and time to fill. Using this data, teams can identify areas of improvement, implement strategies, and set long-term goals.

Challenges of workforce management

Managing a workforce effectively isn’t always easy. Here are a few challenges to be aware of when conducting WFM.

List of challenges of workplace management

Efficient communication

Reliable communication can make or break an organization. For businesses to be successful, all employees must align with WFM policies and company initiatives. This is easier said than done, and it can be difficult to achieve efficient company-wide communication without a concrete process, especially in the era of remote work.

Key tip: Effective WFM strategies and tools are crucial for fostering collaboration, bridging interdepartmental gaps, and ensuring all personnel are on the same page.

Staff and talent shortages

Business efficiency and profitability are dependent on the quality of its workforce. If an organization experiences a dip in workforce quality—such as staff and talent shortages—it can disrupt operations, affect performance, and create overworked and inefficient employees. This can happen when a business lacks a clear hiring plan, a healthy work-life balance, or growth opportunities—things that top employees need to feel fulfilled.

Key tip: Companies need to develop WFM strategies to train, empower, and retain top talent and have the right systems in place for smooth transitions if that talent leaves.

Emerging trends and technologies

Staying up to date with trends—like automation, AI chatbots, advanced analytics, and employee experience software—is crucial for businesses to remain relevant in the marketplace. If companies aren’t constantly evolving and keeping up with new technologies and processes to optimize their operations, they can quickly get left behind by the competition.

Key tip: Quality WFM processes can ensure organizations are always aware of emerging trends and tech that positively impact efficiency.

Example of workforce management

See how one company uses WFM software Tymeshift as its secret ingredient to improve operations.

Peek

Peek, an online booking platform for tours and activities, uses Tymeshift to consolidate and streamline its WFM tasks.

Before using Tymeshift, Peek compiled data into spreadsheets, manually entering performance figures and employee trends—a task that took a tremendous amount of time. Due to its unorganized data collection, the company often had inaccurate staff scheduling processes.

After the switch to Tymeshift, WFM productivity skyrocketed. Erik Jansen, support team supervisor at Peek, says, “I used to do about 15 hours of WFM before Tymeshift. I think that I really got it down to maybe an hour a day.”

Advice from Erik Jansen, Support Team Supervisor at Peek

Frequently asked questions

Finally, here are some frequently asked questions about workforce management.

Improve your WFM with Zendesk and Tymeshift

Workforce management is a crucial business strategy that encompasses everything from employee scheduling to planning future initiatives. Organizations that know to put this secret ingredient into their organization’s recipe for success can withstand customer service dinner rushes and ensure long-term profitability.

Last year, we announced our acquisition of Tymeshift–a modern workforce management system designed just for Zendesk users. Tymeshift now serves as the fastest and easiest way to manage and optimize the performance of agents, delivering AI-powered demand forecasting, automatic scheduling, and real-time and historical reporting on team performance.

Start a free trial of Tymeshift today.

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