So, while the term “workforce” is used to define staff or employees – both in-house and external – what we’re really talking about is PEOPLE. How do we best manage people so they are efficient and productive?
With many moving parts that need to be managed simultaneously, here are FIVE IMPORTANT FACTS about workforce management you need to know:
1. Workforce management is NOT simply about scheduling
First, let’s set the stage by removing WFM misconceptions.
Often when discussing workforce management, people think scheduling. Staff scheduling is one of the most complicated functions often requiring sophisticated processes and solutions, but there is more to workforce management than just the staff scheduling function – yes, it’s part of workforce management, but only represents one piece of the equation. At its core, workforce management is a process used to assemble and analyze workforce availability and capacity in an effort to determine the ideal workforce required at any given time – it’s all about optimizing workforce productivity. It’s why the terms workforce management and workforce optimization can sometimes be used interchangeably.
More so, it involves workforce planning, and a variety of business functions – that include human resources, employee relations, and training and development. Used together, workforce planning and workforce optimization are key cornerstones within the contact center world impacting service levels, workforce utilization, agent efficiency, agent satisfaction and costs. If we take it to its natural conclusion, it also impacts the service agents deliver and customers receive – and therefore impacts all levels of your organization.
2. Analytics play a major role in workforce management
To make accurate projections and decisions, managers need workforce data to generate analytics. By using workforce analytics, you gain valuable insights about workforce management demands and patterns, and can make predictions based on workforce trends or prepare workforce allocations for future events. Workforce managers are armed with real-world data to make actionable decisions.
There are dozens and dozens of workforce metrics to be measured. Sometimes too much data can become an overwhelming problem, so it’s important to have clear insight into what exactly you’re measuring and why, always focusing on workforce performance and agent efficiency, as it’s closely aligned to service levels.
Some of the key metrics used in workforce management include:
- average handle time (AHT)
- first call resolution (FCR)
- workforce accuracy
- workforce effectiveness
- scheduled vs. actual labor hours
3. WFM helps to decrease workforce costs and improve service
Because workforce management determines the ideal workforce – no more, no less – required to meet business goals and customer demand, it also helps organizations reduce costs. Here are some of the ways:
- Reducing workforce scheduling time by improving workforce planning and workforce optimization
- Optimizing workforce allocation decisions
- Minimizing labor costs
- Improving workforce utilization
- Boosting agent on-the-job satisfaction
By helping to achieve business goals, WFM also impacts customer service and customer satisfaction. Organizations benefit from greater workforce allocation, improved resource utilization, and better workforce flexibility that leads directly to service improvements. WFM also helps improve customer service by optimizing agent availability and decreasing response time. This can be accomplished through agent service queue mobility, mapping of expected service level to workforce capacity, and fine-tuning of schedules during periods of high volume.
4. Workforce management is tough to implement quickly.
Workforce management provides a lot of benefits but implementing workforce management solutions quickly isn’t easy. Just think of all the internal processes and stakeholders that make up your organizations that would be impacted by such a change!
To successfully implement workforce management, workforce planning and workforce optimization must become a priority. Before implementing workforce management, it’s important to define the right approach for your organization. The right approach will help you determine what kind of workforce management solution is right for your organization, as well as the type of technology that’s needed.
Start by assessing your organization’s current workforce management methods, requirements and expected outcomes. Work with a trusted contact center workforce management solution and service provider like Inoria to guide you throughout the process. We’ve outlined some of the key WFM implementation considerations in our blog: Quick Tips on how to optimize your Workforce Management (WFM) tools for greater efficiency for you to review.
5. Workforce management requires collaboration across the business.
No matter the size of your organization, or the industry you serve, you need to start thinking about workforce management as a process that involves many team members of your organization, such as workforce managers, workforce planners, workforce analysts and workforce schedulers. All these workforce management professionals need to work together for workforce management to be successful – in other words, you require a strong workforce analytics culture.
The challenge most organizations face is that they often have silos of information which can lead to miscommunication, missed opportunities and unsatisfied customers. By working together with the same set of workforce data, you will be able to make better, more informed decisions about your company’s workforce needs.
Maybe as importantly, you also need to have executive or senior buy-in. Without this, it can be extremely difficult to successfully implement workforce management solutions.
There’s so much more to know about workforce management…
Organizations must plan for workforce needs before they arise. As we know, workforce management is NOT a reactionary process. But yet, many companies find themselves in a constant state of firefighting, trying to fix problems as they arise, rather than planning for these issues before they impact their organization. It’s not uncommon for companies to face costly workforce management disasters that could have been easily prevented with the right strategies and WFM solutions.
Workforce management not only means the planning and control of human resources, but also drives business performance through workforce optimization. At its core, workforce management is the act of managing a company’s workforce operations in order to maximize efficiency and profitability. Just like any other business aspect, such as financial management or operations management, workforce management needs to be properly defined, understood and implemented.
We’ve got lots more to say about workforce management. Be sure to check out our blog series on WFM at Inoria.com.