What is workforce management? A process for ensuring employee productivity

Workforce management (WFM) began as a scheduling process but has since grown into a complex framework for maintaining human capital, budgeting and scheduling for your workforce.

What is workforce management? A process for ensuring employee productivity
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Workforce management (WFM) is framework for optimizing employee productivity. WFM began as a means for improving the consistency, efficiency and productivity of call centers but has since expanded to other industries and job functions. Organizations now leverage WFM processes and tools to increase organizational performance in a strategic fashion that includes human resource management, performance and training management, scheduling, data collection, recruiting, budgeting and forecasting, scheduling and analytics.

What started out as a method of staff scheduling has since grown into a framework that can help businesses improve time management, forecast workloads and required staff, bring employees into the scheduling process and offer analytical insights into the workforce.

Workforce management in action

A solid WFM strategy starts with a definitive picture of the work required to complete each task, keeping efficiency and safety top of mind. From that foundation, companies can use WFM to determine demand-based forecasts, schedule the appropriate number of workers and measure performance to provide feedback and incentives to workers.

WFM doesn’t focus just on employee performance and scheduling — it also determines how companies should invest in their employees. A solid WFM strategy involves online training and supervisor-based coaching to ensure employees are up to date on the latest skills for their job. Implemented correctly, WFM can help companies reduce costs and improve customer service through consistent and automated monitoring of the workforce. It becomes easier to predict future demands for seasonal talent or if cuts need to be made in certain departments or at your call centers. And it can help to avoid overstaffing your call center by determining the ideal number of employees to have on each shift.

While WFM started out as a method for scheduling, it’s since grown into a multi-faceted management framework that helps organizations easily track employee productivity. As more employees have the ability to work remotely and mobile technology becomes the norm, companies are starting to embrace mobile workforce management as well, which oversees the scheduling, training and performance of off-premise employees.

Workforce management analyst

Workforce management has grown to the point where some companies employ workforce management analysts to oversee the process. The job requires a combination of human resources, analytics and operations skills. A WFM analyst is responsible for collecting data on the company’s workforce, analyzing that data to determine trends and create plans and operational goals for the business. WFM analysts also look for redundancies in the organization to find ways to cut costs and reduce budgets.

This WFM analyst role is particularly common in call center environments, which employ large, complex workforces that need to be scheduled and tracked. Some analysts also work as consultants who are brought into organizations for short-term work to help develop WFM strategies, analyze data, or fix inconsistencies an existing WFM process. The average salary for a workforce management analyst is $54,000, according to data from PayScale, with a reported salary range of $39,000 to $77,000 depending on experience and location.

While the requirements and criteria for a workforce management analyst vary by company and industry, the role typically requires:

  • A bachelor’s degree in business, economics, accounting, finance, computer or information science or any related field
  • Strong communication skills
  • Analytical skills and the ability to organize and analyze structured data
  • Forecasting, budgeting and scheduling skills
  • Management experience
  • Ability to generate regular reports and annual forecasts
  • Project staffing shortages or overages
  • Experience with WFM tools and software

Workforce management certification and training

Several certification and training programs are available to get you up to speed on how to best implement an effective WFM strategy. If you are interested in earning a certification in WFM, here are some options currently available:

Beyond certification, there are several training courses and workshops designed to teach you everything from the basic principles of WFM to data analytics skills. If you want to learn the ins and outs of WFM, here are some options you can choose from:

Workforce management software and tools

Workforce management is a complex task that requires tracking several moving parts, including budgets, employees and scheduling. Most companies invest in third-party tools and software to implement WFM and integrate these tools into the daily operations of the business. Workforce management tools typically include features that extend to HR, such as applicant tracking systems, which can help you forecast hiring trends in the company. Workforce management software will help your organization simplify the process, while delivering valuable insights derived from data and analytics collected about your workforce.  

There are countless options to choose from but some of the more popular workforce management tools include:

  • Aspect Workforce Management
  • Altitude Xperience
  • Avaya Aura
  • Avoxi Genius
  • CloudTalkk
  • Calalbriio One
  • Dialpad Contact Center
  • Genesys Cloud
  • Genesys Engage
  • Genesys PureConnect
  • Nextiva Call Center
  • Nice inContact
  • RingCentral Engage Voice
  • Sharpen
  • Talkdesk
  • Verint Workforce Management

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