7 March 2022

The business value of workforce management

GDPR Lady at laptop

What do we mean by workforce management?

Often abbreviated to just ‘WFM’, workforce management is about organisations getting their people in place, at the right time with the necessary tools to maximise productivity and outcomes.

Workforce management encompasses several components including project management, scheduling, budgeting and forecasting, analytics, data collection, field service management and time tracking. It can also include softer skills areas usually associated with HR – areas such as employee development and training, recruitment, performance management and communications.

Effective workforce management ensures the different areas in a business are aligned, working together (where necessary) and to optimum levels. For example, if data shows the outbound call centre function operates most effectively between 5pm and 8pm on Fridays, effective workforce management will ensure the call centre is manned by the right number of people at that time. Shifts can also be allocated according to previous performance.

Good workforce management

The many benefits to good workforce management include:

  • Workforce deployed strategically, optimising skillsets and experience according to business needs.
  • Supporting and facilitating an agile business.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Increased customer satisfaction.
  • Costs savings and increased profitability.
  • Time savings.
  • Effective resource budgeting and planning.
  • Supporting longer term strategic planning.
  • Identifying areas that need attention.

Effective implementation of some or all of these components not only adds value to the organisation but helps support employees. A busy, engaged employee working to the max is far less of a flight risk than the under-utilised worker.

Which industries get the most from WFM?

Workforce management can be applied across many industries though it will be most effective in manufacturing, retail, hospitality and industries where employee activity is more easily measured and can thus be used to schedule shifts and outputs accordingly.

Workplace management isn’t as likely to be effective in, say, a three-person consultancy as it would a supermarket, call centre or factory where productivity (items scanned and customers served, calls made or widgets finished) is measured. Applying workforce management principles in these environments will reap benefits. The monitoring of checkout traffic and transactions will help inform staff rostering needs in a supermarket.

Large manufacturing and piece work-based businesses will also benefit considerably by adopting workforce management principles and systems.

Business agility

One of the real value-adds when workforce management principles are applied effectively is how it enables a business to remain agile and flexible – and thus having a direct and just about immediate impact on the bottom line. Businesses will suffer if they’re undermanned (customers will go elsewhere) and will be wasting money if they’re overstaffed (unnecessary costs), so monitoring customer demand for goods or services and then rostering on appropriate staff levels to satisfy that level of demand makes for sound business practice.

Essentially the same applies to manufacturing or food production – whether it’s car parts, shelving units or cakes. Workforce management will ensure the right number of people are available at the right time to produce the right number of whatever it is. Businesses don’t want to be overstocked and in most instances they will want to satisfy customer demand in a timely manner.

A streamlined, agile business – one that can react quickly and effectively utilise workforce management tools – will be more profitable, while also setting itself up for longevity by providing greater opportunities to reinvest for growth.

Longer term planning; the benefits of keeping accurate data

Applying the workforce management principles outlined above to longer term strategic planning will also impact positively. Many businesses are seasonal with, perhaps, Christmas peaks or summertime lows. DIY stores, for instance, need to ensure they are well stocked prior to the Easter weekend. For some, foot traffic based on external events will determine trading peaks. If a business is reliant on supplies or shipment from overseas, what factors in those other countries might play into the timely, or not, receipt of what’s being shipped?

Having accurate historical data is a key component of workforce management – it will inform and help drive effective planning.

Monitoring and managing time                

Monitoring employee timekeeping influences many things. It can highlight performance issues as well as ‘time theft’ and also where resources within a workforce may need adjusting.

Time tracking devices come in different shapes and sizes – from the old-fashioned sign-in / sign-out book (not recommended) to clocking-in machines to digital and cloud-based solutions. ‘Swipe cards’ are common, fingerprinting and retina-checking less so – but essentially fool proof in high security settings. Time tracking is also an effective tool when monitoring the performance of employees who aren’t office-based – sales reps, delivery drivers and other people based on the road.

Aligned with payroll, time tracking systems add value through ultimately saving time and ensuring accuracy. See our blog on how integrated clocking systems benefit work cultures. And consider our partner, Grosvenor Technology, who offers a range of HCM terminals to support and maximise the business value achieved through your workforce management solution.

Simon Wooldridge, Content Writer, MHR

Simon Wooldridge

Simon is a content writer at MHR.

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