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Workforce management systems were originated in call centers to increase efficiency. Once productivity increased through the systems and processes, other businesses and industries followed. 

Today, workforce management is described as a framework that organizations can use to improve time management, forecast staffing requirements, ensure regulatory compliance and produce analytical data about employee skills, training, and various other topics. The goal of the framework is to maximize workforce productivity.

How Workforce Management Works

An organization’s workforce consists of human resources needed to meet strategic goals. Effectively managing the workforce means taking full advantage of the skills and capabilities available within the organization. Storing employee skills and training data is one of the critical functions of a workforce management system. Employers can use the information in performance evaluations, update training, and target coaching.

Scheduling is another essential function of workforce management, ensuring that the right person is in the right place at the right time to get a job done. Digital tools available in many WFM systems help automate this process by ensuring that all workforce variables are automatically considered, including vacations, leaves, and other assignments. With many companies moving to a PTO (personal time off) model that combines vacation and sick days available to each employee, handling time-off requests and tracking time-off balances are ideal tasks for software automation.

Workforce management includes forecasting workforce needs, such as knowing that added resources are usually seasonal or that a future project will require specific skills. Budgeting tools are also needed to decide if the organization can meet forecast requirements. 

Compliance tracking is one of the most complex aspects of workforce management. An organization can suffer legal fines and employee lawsuits if it doesn’t follow union wage and hour requirements and federal, state, and local laws. Following these requirements is particularly important when tracking overtime for hourly workers; other compliance issues include allowed breaks, family leave, and disability leave.

Workforce Management Automation

Many of the day-to-day tasks involved in managing a company’s human resources were repetitive and boring. It made perfect sense to use a software solution for scheduling and payroll tasks. The workforce management framework has grown beyond these basic tasks and has evolved into a complex set of interlinked processes.

Most organizations have invested in digital tools that track productivity; many also use more sophisticated software that aids in budgeting and strategic planning. According to payroll services provider ADP, “When WFM is part of a cutting-edge software solution, it can also help businesses improve employee relations, enhance customer service and create a positive financial impact.”

Many organizations have a variety of third-party software solutions in place that track time and attendance, performance, and training. These homegrown solutions often don’t work well together, so all-in-one workforce management systems that supply an end-to-end solution are growing in popularity.

These tools are increasing, including sophisticated AI and machine learning technology. The Future of Work predictions from marketing data firm IDC say that 60 percent of the top 2,000 businesses worldwide will use AI-based systems by 2023 to support their workforce through all stages of employment, from recruitment through retirement. 

The Benefits of Workforce Management

Human resource experts agree that the benefits of effectively using a workforce management system far outweigh the time and effort involved in setting it up, especially for organizations with hourly workers. Employers can optimize their workforces by using a WFM to gain insight into productivity, engagement, ability, and experience. Improved productivity, lower operating costs, better customer service, and better human resource planning are among the many benefits cited.

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An employer balancing the pros and cons of a productivity management system versus an all-in-one workforce management system.

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