Despite incredible technological advances and integration into all facets of business, organizations live and die by the quality of their workforce. For modern companies, workforce management (WFM) has become vital for success and growth, and it helps brands evolve into industry leaders. However, long-term success won’t come to fruition without a robust and productive workforce management plan.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin.
Putting a program in place is vital for ensuring “workforce management” isn’t just a buzzword managers use. It needs to be an ongoing process that’s regularly updated and reviewed to maximize employee engagement and productivity. So much so that 55% of CFOs stated that digital workforce management platforms have increased employee productivity and collaboration.
In this article, we’ll dive into workforce management and gain a better understanding of the concept, why it’s critical for modern businesses, and what to include in your plan.
What is workforce management?
The term workforce management is defined as a series of processes implemented by a business to monitor and improve the productivity of its employees. While that’s indeed still an accurate description, the concept of workforce management has evolved significantly in recent years due to technology and industry trends. Today, workforce management encompasses many processes and tools designed to suit the specific needs of organizations or entire industries.
80% of US small businesses use HR software or plan to in the next few years. This tells you a few things. Firstly, the business world has finally overcome the fear of technology, and it’s widely embraced. Secondly, if 80% of small businesses use it, you can bet your last dollar that the big businesses do — sometimes it pays to follow the crowd.
So, what does a workforce manager actually do?
The easy answer is that a workforce manager manages a workforce, but that doesn’t tell you much at all. Workforce managers have a range of responsibilities that span across many areas of the business, from recruitment to finances and beyond. Generally, workforce managers deal with the following:
1. Manage processes and goals:
Often, workforce managers play a crucial role in establishing procedures and policies while identifying goals for employees and the company.
2. Oversee production:
They may oversee activities directly involving or related to company products or services. Such as ensuring deadlines are met and consulting with internal and external stakeholders.
3. Manage finances:
Everything in business costs money, so workforce managers need to have an awareness and understanding of company finances and budget.
4. Oversee training and development:
Employee development is crucial for business growth, employee retention, and filling skill gaps. Meaning it’s vital to have an expert overseeing all training and development activities.
While they may not be recruiting talent, it is a crucial process they’ll need to oversee to ensure that recruitment aligns with company goals and needs.
6. Internal recruitment:
Workforce managers have a unique and comprehensive view of an organization. This is beneficial for appointing senior employees and identifying internal talent for upskilling and reskilling. Again, it’s hugely beneficial for retention and filling skill gaps.
Critical components of workforce management
All businesses are different and have varying requirements regarding WFM, but the processes remain the same. Or similar, at least. Some organizations may simply require a streamlined HR system, whereas others desperately seek an end-to-end solution for widespread improvement — from recruitment to daily operations and everything in between.
Below, we’ll list some essential processes and how they contribute to improving workforce management. However, the list is not exhaustive, and you can implement additional processes you deem critical for your industry.
1. Data analysis
In the digital age, data is a critical resource to collect, analyze, and harness to achieve widespread improvement. You need it to learn about your company and your employees, so it makes sense for data to catalyze a workforce management plan. You can learn so much about workforce productivity, performance, and engagement using HR and WFM tools while identifying areas to improve.
However, data is also crucial for forecasting future workloads, understanding your recruitment needs, and creating new systems to improve the efficiency of task assignment and completion. Finding ways to save time and money while improving productivity can truly revolutionize an organization while informing future decisions.
2. Forecasting workloads
As we mentioned, you can forecast future needs and estimate requirements once you analyze the data and learn about your employee workloads. This is a crucial process for planning and understanding long-term needs. Additionally, forecasting workloads is vital for establishing talent requirements, as it will highlight employees or teams that often have too much on their plate.
To expand your organization, you must ensure that all employee workloads are manageable and promote productivity. This is achieved through regular data analysis and updating processes to reflect your business’s needs now and in the future.
Talent acquisition will always be a vital aspect of strategic workforce management, as it offers businesses insight into their current skill requirements and what personnel they need to achieve their current and future goals. If you don’t have what you need to achieve your objectives, it’s time to recruit.
You need to find the right talent, but your business must also be efficient and effective with onboarding. Failing in this regard can impact productivity, engagement, and retention. More than 93% of employers believe that onboarding plays a critical role in an employee’s decision to stay or leave their company. Onboarding must be quick, efficient, and error-free if you want new talent to have a significant impact.
4. Talent acquisition
Did you know we’re amid a global talent shortage? Businesses across every industry will suffer financial losses ($8.5 trillion by 2030) due to unrealized revenue and a lack of necessary skills. Fortunately, strategic workforce management is incredibly beneficial for identifying areas needing improvement and where skill gaps have formed.
From here, you understand the type of professionals you require for success and growth. There are two solutions to this problem. Recruit new talent with your newfound skill needs, or reskill and upskill employees to fill vacant positions and adopt new roles. Both are effective and positively contribute to workplace productivity and efficiency.
It may sound dramatic, but scheduling can make or break your business. If you hope to maximize productivity, you need to analyze patterns and behavior to tailor workflows to suit individual needs. For example, you may assign specific tasks earlier or later in the day if some employees are night owls and others are early birds.
Over extended periods, you will gain a broader view of workforce productivity, when they’re most effective, and even the tasks that consume more time. These intricacies add up and offer small yet critical insights for optimizing your business. Your employees are happier, healthier, and more productive when your scheduling is optimized. What more could you ask for?
6. Performance monitoring
The final step of workforce management is monitoring employee performance, which should be continuous. Workforce management is an ongoing process that shapes how a company works. You should regularly review performance metrics, monitor workload productivity, and ensure your employees have what they need to do their jobs at a high level.
More than a third of US workers plan to leave their jobs in 2023. That’s a scary thought. With this in mind, employers should do everything possible to keep their best talent. Strategic workforce management offers a continual understanding of your business’s wants and needs. You just need to fulfill them.
Four Ways to optimize your Workforce
As we said, workforce management isn’t a task to tick off. It’s an ongoing initiative for long-term success and growth for the company and its employees. This is why you must lead with efficiency and productivity in mind, as achieving these goals leads to subsequent benefits such as reduced costs and improved revenue. Some effective ways to optimize your workforce include:
1. Aligning your workforce with your company goals
Every employee must be aware of the business’s core objectives. They should also understand the ways their roles contribute to achieving these objectives. Creating a unified vision helps businesses create high-performing employees within a culture with the drive to be productive, resulting in improved productivity and better output.
2. Implementing data-led decision-making
Harness data and analytics to reveal valuable insights into performance, engagement, and productivity. These insights help to inform important workforce management decisions, such as recruitment, scheduling, and monitoring performance. All of which enhance the effectiveness of employees and support broader business objectives.
3. Investing in technology to enhance WFM
We’re at the point where the evolution of industries and their businesses is dictated by technology. If you don’t have access to vital technology and helpful tools, you’ll engage in an uphill battle that wastes time and energy. Investing in workforce management tools and automation is critical for streamlining everyday tasks to boost efficiency and meet deadlines.
It reduces human error, speeds up routine processes, and gives employees more time and flexibility to focus on tasks supporting larger goals. This also creates opportunities for employees to reskill and upskill, as AI can handle some of their workload. Additionally, this can reduce costs and increase profits as AI is more cost-effective, and your employees can focus on tasks that support sales and revenue.
Multiplier’s workforce management solutions ensure employers can provide workers with quick and seamless onboarding, maximizing productivity within the employment process by instantly integrating new talent. Additionally, risk-free compliance prevents any risks or headaches that may cause problems for new hires or your company. With effective WFM solutions, you save time and money while boosting productivity and efficiency, sounds like a win-win to us.
4. Creating a culture of learning and flexibility
Promoting a culture of learning and development is another crucial aspect of workforce optimization. Learning cultures provide a sense of safety, allowing employees to evolve and make mistakes without fear of repercussions. In these environments, employees can enhance their skills, stay updated with industry trends, and offer significant value to companies with competitive industries. 93% of employees say they would stay in a role if they felt more invested in by their employer.
Along with an opportunity to learn, employees should be afforded the freedom to be creative. If you hope to retain and attract new talent, agility is vital. A big part of workforce optimization is establishing workflows that allow employees to work in a way that suits their needs, benefitting engagement, productivity, and fulfillment. To achieve this, you can consider remote working, flexible hours, hybrid working, and other creative arrangements.
Of course, these are just a few examples of the types of processes a workforce manager will take part in. However, some companies prefer to have other senior managers in place to utilize varied and specialized skill sets. Additionally, company owners often play a more hands-on role and may absorb some responsibilities usually reserved for workforce managers.
Expert workforce management practices to implement
1. Dedicate resources to WFM:
You may already have one, but a WFM specialist or team is beneficial for prioritizing HR and workforce processes. Everything from forecasting employee needs to scheduling to monitoring performance — dedicated experts are infinitely more effective and committed to positively impacting workforce management.
2. Implement WFM tools:
It goes without saying, but you must implement workforce management software if you hope to benefit from critical elements such as automation, data collection and analysis, forecasting, and much more. The reality is that it saves time and money while providing a platform to launch new initiatives.
3. Employee self-service:
Creating flexible work schedules is brilliant for giving employees more command over their workload, and the appropriate tools help to enable self-service. Simple HR tasks and even payroll requests no longer cause delays or headaches. Just a few clicks of a mouse and employees get what they need. And no need to involve senior employees with trivial tasks outside of their remit.
4. Don’t waste data:
Workforce management solutions gather an enormous amount of data, some of which tend to be wasted. This is a mistake. It’s important to look beyond the data you use all the time, such as employee timesheets and objectives, and look for fresh insights. Data can help you find ways, no matter how small, to reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve the employee experience.
5. Focus on employee skills:
We hate to mention it again, but there’s a talent shortage. Businesses that lack the appropriate skills to evolve will struggle to succeed in the near future. Use WFM processes to identify skill gaps and leverage data to forecast your needs. From here, you gain a clearer blueprint of who you need to hire and how your employees must develop.
6. Reduce costs with forecasting:
Such broad, in-depth data offers actionable insights for efficient forecasting. This allows you to understand future requirements and begin to optimize your workforce accordingly, reducing costs and maximizing the budget available for creative means.
7. Automation is your friend:
While many people may still fear AI, it’s a tool every business could benefit from. Automation has revolutionized many industries by providing the tools to handle tedious and time-consuming tasks. Therefore freeing up employee bandwidth and increasing productivity. AI isn’t here to take over the world, but it could help your business take over the industry.
A workforce’s effectiveness relies on several factors, but two of the most important are support from their managers and access to the best tools. Regarding the latter, we can help. Multiplier’s workforce management solution boosts productivity and efficiency, removes tedious HR tasks, and ensures compliance. What more could you ask for? Book a demo today to learn more.