How often have you had a call from an employee asking whether they are on schedule or not? Or emailing how can they swap or drop a particular shift? And where can they find a form to put through the request?
What is Workforce Management (WFM) and why do I need it?
Workforce management includes the effective staffing, forecasting, scheduling and real-time adjustments required to ensure your organisation to be as efficient as possible.
Workforce management (WFM) is an integrated set of processes used to assign the right person with the right skills, to the right role and tasks at the right time. It allows organisations to optimise operational productivity and meet changing demands. WFM systems don’t just help reduce labour costs but also help to enhance customer experience. The demand for workforce management is forecast to grow substantially over the next three years, according to Statista. WFM is a win-win! Enabling managers to plan their Workforce effectively and efficiently and better meet the needs of their customers and their employees. Getting this right is complex, but with the right technology you’ll get real-time actionable insights on the business metrics. You’ll also get predictive planning based on a mix of criteria that’s unique to your business. If your business has staff complexity and shift patterns then WFM is a must.
Your workers are your biggest asset
Something you’ve heard before, but they are critical to your day to day operations and particularly delivering customer service. They are also your biggest competitive advantage. WFM is as much about your staff as it is your business and business efficiency. All of which contribute to your bottom line, but also happy staff – the schedule is a key driver of retention. Scheduling too few staff on busy shifts can give you a bad reputation, lower customer satisfaction and the risk of customers going to competitors. But overstaffing can also be negative too, with increased costs, unoccupied staff and people leaving their posts in an effort to ‘stay busy’. Managing your workforce correctly is more critical than ever. Workforce management can help you get more with less, here are 7 key success factors.
1. Employee Engagement
If you think user-first, then employee engagement will automatically increase. A user-friendly design allows instant visibility for both managers and employees. If it’s intuitive and straightforward to use the features, you will empower your users.
elementWork has been designed after careful consideration of the best industry practises and includes features such as shift swap, multi-sites shift requests, and Release shifts can be used with minimal clicks/touch.
Making it intuitive and mobile-centric increases employee engagement because you’ve improved ease of use. We all expect to be able to do most things on our mobiles and get frustrated when it doesn’t work well and is not intuitive and fast – the same is true for employees.
One of the latest features we’ve included within elementWork is Availability, where employees can indicate the days and times they are available for work. By offering flexibility, employees’ morale and satisfaction can be increased significantly which could help them maintain a work-life balance.
Workforce scheduling can be an extraordinarily complex and labour intensive task which when done manually can compromise the accuracy. A WFM system allows managers to be at the driving seat of designing that schedule. It allows managers to develop their own shift templates which can be scheduled with a couple of clicks. It offers a range of techniques where schedules can be set up, i.e. managers can set up an ad-hoc rota, they can copy from previous weeks, or can use pre-built templates.
This approach to scheduling allows a more sophisticated approach to matching business needs, workload and employee needs. Managers can clearly see availability based on criteria set by the business. For example airlines require predetermined time off between shifts, depending on the last shift they worked.
3. Time and Attendance
Managing time and attendance accurately gives you a clear view of attendance and absence. With easy and flexible clocking-in options, the WFM system highlights the contractual hours employees work and provides a holistic view of the all Workforce. Additionally whether the store/site schedule is within the defined budget/target. Any overtime, bonus or TRONC payments can also be automated which minimises any chance of payroll error and automates the end to end process, i.e. from clocking-in to the payment, which reduces the cost and saves the time. Absences are automatically recorded against the HR record meaning these always stay in sync.
4. Operational Agility
The challenges of an agile environment have always confronted workforce Management. And there has always been a conflict between the company’s care obligation for its employees and the predictability of the working time requirements. More than ever, businesses have been looking for the right balance between best business practices and how they could impact the Workforce.
To achieve operational excellence, companies have to deliver to meet their customers’ demands and ensure that their Workforce is fully equipped with the right tools and has a safe working environment. elementWork is designed to give that perfect balance where organisations can, at the same time, achieve employee satisfaction and reduce the planning expenditure.
WFM tools have agility built in, the ability to adapt and change fast, when you need too. With real time reporting on people performance, absences and changes in the business needs delivers insights that you can trust to make the decisions you need too. Easy communication with your team.
5. Forecasting and Budgeting
The forecast forms the foundation of all the science and technology that underpins ‘easy’ scheduling. Accurate forecasts are the key to unlocking the rest of the process. Elementwork enables flexibility that allows you to define your own algorithms to drive the various aspects of your workload.
Through using customisable algorithms, you can include any historical data sets to produce accurate forecasts on which to build your schedule. Add in the facility to integrate your budget data, you can create specific metrics that your managers will understand and control. With real-time data tracking you can see all the key attributes on a single dashboard with drill-down views to dig into the detail.
6. Working Time directive, Compliance and Right to work
Whether its the right to work (RTW) or Working Time directive (WTD), all regulations are pre-configured within WFM which allow legislative, employment contract and company policy rules to be enforced in no time. These rules can be automated as per the organisations policy and can restrict rota publication if there is any violation within the rota planning.
Using the self-service tools, employees also have full visibility of their historical hours and upcoming scheduled shifts.
Legislative and compliance rules are complex and need to be efficiently navigated, but this can also be incredibly time consuming to ensure every employee is able to work, even if they are available. Layer these complexities with your company rules and policies can lead to a lot of confusion and potential mistakes. Allowing the technology to apply all these elements automatically gives you peace of mind around a minefield of compliance, legislation and company policy
WFM needs to be intuitive as its designed make the complexity of workforce management feel easy. It should be mobile friendly too! And include features such as clocking in on the go, instant notifications employee’s/managers whenever any request is made.
- Various types of workload can be generated using your specific rules. This can show you where labour can be saved, but also where it should be invested to deliver an improved customer experience
- Allows you to focus on how to get the right people, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time to create a virtuous circle, not a vicious cycle
Virtuous circle or vicious circle for success with Workforce Management
- Virtuous circle – right number of people scheduled, ‘just enough’ to do the job – people remain productive but are neither bored nor overworked. Customers get a better experience and sales achieve or beat forecasts. No need to chase labour so management time can be spent on proper people management, giving good feedback and coaching
- Vicious cycle – not enough people scheduled. Don’t take the forecast sales, labour is hard to manage aproach. Staff will quickly become hacked off as they have to work too hard. They’ll start to call in sick, no-show or leave. This results in labour targets being set based on ‘false performance’. The following week you have overscheduled to compensate but customers do not return due to previous poor performance
Once the Rota is published, employees get the notifications in real-time. Immediately staff can see what shifts they have been scheduled for. They can request shift release if they are not available for that shift or request a shift swap with their colleagues. Everything is visible on the Rota once approved by the manager. Once managers have submitted the weekly timecards, employees are instantly notified. Workers can see the hours worked and payments for that day.
Advantages of WFM
These key success factors are true for any workforce management system (WFM). WFM is in part both art and science, its not just about staff schedules. Its highly automated, enabling you to get the right data to make real time, informed decisions. But, this is done with a user-first approach which delivers a consistent and seamless experience for everyone. An intuitive WFM reduces your training costs. And increases staff engagement as well as staff adoption – without all those support calls and emails.
Lets not forget the data and reporting! The enabler which allows real time decision making based on the scenarios and parameters that are unique to your business.
Elementsuite’s WFM module (elementWork) offers a range of features, which streamlines and simplifies the complexity of Workforce planning processes. elementWork is a transformative solution, which is carefully designed to enhance the organisational capability to address the critical scheduling and employee rostering issues and pro-actively engage the Workforce via mobile-first solution.