19 April 2022

The benefits of effective workforce management

Woman in shop looking at tablet device

When organisations talk about ‘workforce management’ what do they mean?

Sometimes referred to as just ‘WFM’, a quick search tells us that workforce management is “the process of strategically optimising the productivity of employees to ensure all resources are in the right place at the right time”.

Essentially then, it’s getting the right people in place, on time, with what they need to deliver the required outcomes to maximum effect.

The workforce management ‘umbrella’ includes things such as time tracking and attendance, planning, budgeting, forecasting and analytics, and scheduling and project management. Additionally, areas often associated with HR – training, performance management, recruiting, professional development and skills management are included in some organisations.

In this second in a series of blogs on workforce management we consider some of the different elements and the consequent benefits. See also the business value of workforce management.

So, what are the benefits – the tangible things that impact workflows, productivity, time, costs and employee performance when WFM principles are applied? Here are some key areas where benefits can be gained.

Time tracking and attendance                               

Implementing a time and attendance system will have an immediate impact on costs and productivity. ‘Time theft’ (a worker clocking in or out on behalf of someone else) has been the bane of many a business – something 80% of employees in service industries and retail admitted to in a recent survey.  

However, we’ve largely gone beyond ‘clocking-in’ machines to track attendance in 2022. Things are more sophisticated with several options open to businesses. And with that sophistication comes greater accuracy.

Electronic and digital time management cloud-based systems and apps now largely dominate the market. Time tracking can also be extended to those working offsite. Many workers spend much of their day travelling - How productive are they? Is the territory they cover adequately resourced? GPS and Google Maps linked to a company time tracking solution will provide their employer with what they need to know.

Monitoring employee timekeeping influences many things.

When integrated with payroll, a time and attendance system has a two-pronged benefit – a more productive payroll department and fewer mistakes. The modernisation of this process means reduced admin, less paperwork and, importantly, levels of accuracy that HR and payroll departments of the past could only have dreamt of. See also our blog on how integrated clocking systems benefit work cultures.

The tightening of this process saves organisations money and will alert them to potential roadblocks or resource issues. Grosvenor Technology provides several time tracking solutions, with varying levels of functionality and complexity.

Planning, budgeting and analytics

Knowing what you’re going to do, how much it will cost and ultimately what it will deliver in terms of revenue and margin is crucial in running a business. What worked, what didn’t and why – the analysis component – is essential in understanding that business. This, in turn, provides a platform on which to plan for the future.

All businesses do the planning, budgeting and analytics thing to varying degrees. But how effectively do they do it? How integrated is the process? How confident are they of the accuracy of the information they’re looking at on which to base decisions?

Regarding these components (in isolation) or this process (if integrated) as part of the greater workforce management piece is a first step to more effective business management. Planning, budgeting and analytics are intertwined and play a significant part in telling the story of a business. Knowing what has happened and why is a major factor in being able to plan more accurately, budget and shape what happens in the future. Integrating these processes effectively as part of a holistic approach to workforce management will deliver significant benefits – both short and long-term.

Scheduling and project management

Whether the business makes widgets, cleans offices, provides security staff for events, harvests olives, or operates a call centre, there are scheduling and project management considerations. Internal resources – people, equipment, budget etc – need to be considered. External factors such as suppliers, distribution, the weather, possible economic factors, equipment hire, or perhaps legislative factors also need consideration.

How many of x and y are needed? How many people are needed for a total of 240 hours if the job is to be completed by 5pm on the 21st? What external factors might affect on-time completion? What contingency should be built-in? Is there anything that might affect the budget allocated?

Scheduling and project management sits below planning, budgeting and analytics, but the data and information recorded feeds into the higher levels. Applying workforce management principles to scheduling and project management provides major advantages to a business or organisation.

In summary…

Rolling out a successful workforce management programme delivers organisations major benefits, including:

  • The workforce deployed strategically, optimising skillsets and experience (people, place, task and timing).
  • Maximised performance levels and competency means increased productivity.
  • Increased customer satisfaction.
  • Costs savings, increased profitability.
  • Time savings.
  • Supports effective operational analysis which in turn supports effective resource budgeting and planning, and in turn, longer term strategic planning.
  • Identifying areas needing attention.
  • Compliance.

The benefits of effective workforce management are tangible and real.

Simon Wooldridge, Content Writer, MHR

Simon Wooldridge

Simon is a content writer at MHR.

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