A complete guide to workforce management (WFM): Benefits, strategies & best practices

what is workforce management (WFM)

In today’s competitive business landscape, managing your workforce and helping them reach their full potential is a necessity. Internal systems are incredibly important to engaging staff to be productive and keeping labour costs under control. That’s the power of workforce management.

This article delves into what workforce management really is, its benefits and main components, and how you can implement it, regardless of your business structure. Read on to learn how workforce management can help you boost employee satisfaction and achieve your business goals!

What is workforce management?

Workforce management, or WFM, is the process of  planning, organising, and overseeing the human resources of a business. It involves a wide range of activities aimed at getting the most out of your employees and ensuring they have the tools and resources they need to be successful.

The difference between WFM vs. human resource management

WFM is a subset of human resource management (HRM). In comparison, WFM is a more short-term, tactical approach focusing on managing employees’ day-to-day operational aspects. HRM deals with the bigger picture, including long-term strategic planning, talent acquisition, and actual employee relations.

HRM focuses on employee engagement, aiming to attract, retail, and develop a workforce that aligns with the business’s goals and culture. Meanwhile, WFM primarily ensures that employees are in the right roles at the right times, with a focus on control and meeting operational needs.

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Key components of workforce management

WFM works by implementing a series of strategies and tools to optimise your employee resources. Here’s a breakdown of the key components that keep this system running.

Planning & forecasting

This involves the analysis of workload to understand your business needs and predicting future staff requirements. Consider factors like customer traffic, sales trends, and project deadlines. To get the best performance from your employees, they need to be matched to roles that fit their skills and qualifications. Allocate labour costs based on the projected workload and employee wage rates to make more accurate forecasts.

Scheduling & time tracking

Employee schedules need to be developed to meet business needs while considering employee availability, preferences, and Fair Work regulations. To best manage this, use an employee timesheet software with time-tracking features that can be used online, though more traditional businesses still use time-in clocks and biometric systems. This ensures accurate payroll processing and helps identify potential scheduling issues.

Performance management

Performance monitoring and tracking employee productivity identify areas for improvement within the business. This can involve metrics like sales figures, task completion rates, or customer satisfaction, depending on the business and industry. Feedback systems can help employees improve their performance and address skill gaps.

Based on real-time data and performance metrics, WFM systems can suggest schedule adjustments to optimise staffing levels and address unexpected workload changes.

Technology & automation

Many businesses utilise workforce management software to automate tasks like scheduling, time tracking, and data analysis. Cloud software is a popular choice since it allows businesses to access WFM data on desktop and mobile, as well as address WFM-related concerns from employees, such as leaves and timesheets.

WFM systems can integrate with payroll software to streamline the process of calculating wages and generating paychecks.

Legal and compliance

WFM ensures compliance with payroll and labour laws regarding minimum wage, overtime pay, and break times. It will also help you consider any contractual obligations related to employee scheduling and working hours relevant to internal decision-making.

Benefits of workforce management in the workplace

Workforce management isn’t just about creating schedules. It’s a strategic approach to managing your workers, leading to a range of benefits for you and your employees.

Enhanced employee performance

Workforce management ensures the right people with the right skills are working on the right tasks at the right times. This minimises wasted time and keeps projects moving forward smoothly. Additionally, it helps automate tasks like scheduling and time tracking, freeing up valuable employee time for core activities.

Reduced labour costs

By optimising staffing levels based on actual workload, WFM helps you control labour expenses. You can avoid overstaffing during slow periods and ensure you have enough qualified personnel during peak times.

Improved employee satisfaction

Clear and consistent schedules and opportunities for flexible work arrangements contribute to a more positive work environment.  When employees feel valued for their skills and have a voice in scheduling, their morale and engagement tend to increase.

Data-driven internal decision making

Workforce management systems provide valuable data on employee performance, workload, and scheduling patterns. This data allows you to make informed decisions about staffing allocation, resource management, and future growth strategies.

5 workforce management strategies to implement

Start implementing workforce management in your business with these strategies.

1. Analyse demand and employee skill sets

First, understand the ebb and flow of your business. Analyse historical data on customer traffic, sales trends, and project timelines to predict future workload needs. Identify the skills and qualifications required for each task or role within your organisation. Create a skills matrix that maps employee skillsets to those requirements. This ensures you have the right people assigned to the right jobs for optimal performance.

2. Build a flexible and efficient scheduling system

Leverage timesheet software and rostering tools to automate the scheduling process. This allows you to factor in employee availability, skills, and preferences while ensuring adherence to labour laws and regulations. Implement a system for monitoring workload fluctuations and making real-time adjustments to schedules. This could involve WFM tools for employees to swap shifts or for managers to adjust staffing levels based on unexpected changes in demand.

Consider offering flexible work arrangements, such as part-time opportunities, compressed workweeks, or remote work options. This can attract and retain top talent and cater to diverse employee needs.

3. Set standard communication practices

Establish clear and accessible channels for employees to provide feedback on their schedules, workload, and overall WFM practices. This could be through anonymous surveys, suggestion boxes, or regular one-on-one meetings. Actively listen to employee feedback and address their concerns. Respond promptly and transparently, explaining any limitations or actions being taken.

During onboarding, clearly explain the WFM processes, including scheduling practices, communication channels, and how to request time off or address scheduling concerns.

4. Recognise good employee performance

Establish clear performance metrics aligned with your business goals. Regularly track employee performance, providing constructive feedback to identify areas for improvement and opportunities for skill development.

Give employees who meet their goals recognition through rewards, perks, or benefits. This motivates employees, promotes a positive work culture, and reinforces desired behaviours that contribute to overall success.

5. Leverage the right WFM technology

Investing in workforce management software can streamline scheduling, time tracking, data analysis, and communication. These tools can automate tasks, improve accuracy, and provide valuable insights for better decision-making. Utilise the data gathered through your WFM system to analyse trends, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions. This data can help you expect staffing levels, predict future needs, and improve overall workforce management strategies.

What is a workforce management software?

Workforce management software is a digital tool designed to streamline and improve various aspects of managing your employees. When used by businesses, it becomes a centralised hub where employers and employees can handle scheduling, attendance, leave management, and performance management.

Essential workforce management solution features for small businesses

If you’re looking to use a workforce management platform for your business, make sure it has the following features:

Employee rostering

Workforce management software stores employee information like contact details, skills, qualifications, and availability to help you create employee rosters. Once a roster has been set, it should automatically be sent to employees for them to accept or decline their shifts.

Employee scheduling

Employee scheduling on a WFM solution allows you to create, publish, and manage employee work schedules. You’ll be able to consider factors like employee availability, skills, workload requirements, and labour laws from a single platform.

Attendance and time tracking

WFM software tracks hours by allowing employees to use the same app to independently clock in and out of their shifts. You’ll receive information about their work hours and attendance and countercheck it against timesheets and rosters for accurate payroll processing.

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Defining workforce management (WFM)

Leave management

Create a centralised system for managing employee leave requests (vacation time, sick leave, personal days, etc.). This includes features for submitting requests, tracking approvals, and monitoring remaining balances through annual leave reports. Employees can also benefit from this feature by cutting down time spent on sending requests to find this information.

Mobile accessibility

Employees get access to a specialised app to help them access work schedules, request time off, and accept or decline shifts on the go. This gives workers more flexibility and control over their work, fostering better communication and employee satisfaction.

Payroll integration

Your WFM solution should seamlessly integrate with your existing cloud accounting or payroll software by automatically transferring data to the payroll system. This eliminates manual data entry and reduces errors during payroll processing.

Try workforce management to improve employee productivity and happiness

Workforce management is no longer a luxury meant for large corporations. By implementing the right strategies and leveraging the right technology, businesses of all sizes can experience significant improvements in efficiency, productivity, and employee satisfaction.

From planning and forecasting to scheduling, time tracking, and communication, a well-structured WFM system empowers businesses to improve their human resources. The key is to choose features that align with your specific needs and budget.

If you are a small business seeking a comprehensive yet user-friendly solution, consider Payroller. With its intuitive interface and budget-friendly pricing, Payroller can be the perfect tool to streamline your workforce management processes and empower your team to thrive.

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