What is workforce management? A process for ensuring employee productivity

Christel Deskins

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 […]

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:

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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