What Is Workforce Management & How Does It Work?
Wondering what workforce management is about? Check out this overview of what it is and how it can help your business operate more efficiently.
Workforce management is great for managing a fluid labor pool like delivery drivers. Effortlessly manage delivery fleets at speed with Circuit for Teams.
- Using workforce management can help you save time and labor by successfully allocating resources.
- Overworked employees can lead to a decline in performance. Workforce management can stop this through automated scheduling.
- In the future, workforce management systems will only become more powerful at analyzing data.
Simply put, workforce management (WFM) is a process businesses and organizations use to optimize their workforce’s workflow, productivity, and efficiency.
Essentially, WFM makes sure the right people are in the right place at the right time — performing tasks correctly. It also means managing processes that help with that, like communication and collaboration.
This involves tasks like forecasting and monitoring employee schedules.
Working without WFM can potentially sink your operations by leading you to allocate labor and resources in the wrong places.
This article will demonstrate how workforce management is like adding kryptonite to your organization’s labor pool.
What is workforce management?
Workforce management processes make managing a workforce’s schedules simple and easy, adding flexibility to the mix for businesses and employees.
Workforce management is a set of processes and tools to help monitor employee and company performance, workforce planning, employee schedules, human resource management, and more.
This is all done through workforce management software, which can monitor real-time changes.
Optimization helps you stay in the loop and understand how your workforce behaves and changes over time.
For example, it can help your delivery managers know if workers placed vacation time around a certain date (maybe everyone went to find Morbius all at once, right?).
Workforce management can also help identify if someone filled out timesheets incorrectly, or if there was an influx of absences during a certain time of year.
Key components of workforce management
Having responsive, fluid software as a sidekick for your business is a no-brainer.
Experts forecast the market revenue for workforce management solutions to balloon by 2025.
So, it’s useful to know some key components of workforce management.
Forecasting and scheduling
You know that forecasting is crucial for scaling a delivery business because it can help predict when you’re busy — whether that’s every Saturday at 5 pm or the second Tuesday of every month.
Luckily, WFM tools forecast by analyzing the demand for labor using historical data, trends, and other metrics (bringing your operations out of the Stone Age and into the space Age 🚀).
By using metrics, you can make sure your organization has enough delivery drivers ready to deal with busy periods.
Historical data analysis and workforce analytics are two components of workplace management.
Historical data analysis uses past data to forecast demand by identifying patterns, trends, and seasonal changes.
Meanwhile, workforce analytics involves analyzing data from all kinds of sources — including employee skills, performance, and availability — to predict future labor demand.
Staff scheduling is an important component of time management. It can mean assigning Jordan to make sure his truck is stocked to make an on-time delivery or making sure Amy leaves early enough to avoid rush hour traffic on her delivery route.
Time management makes sure your company doesn’t overwork or underuse employees — that’s not cool for anyone.
On the flip side, underused employees or “overstaffing” can lead to increased labor costs and lower profitability. That’s bad news for your business.
So, it’s best to use time management to your advantage to plan better shifts.
Shift planning and rostering are the little brother and sister of WFM systems. Shift planning means planning from when an employee starts to when they finish.
Rostering involves assigning employees to specific tasks based on their skills and experience.
For example, in last-mile delivery where a package is about to make the journey to its destination (the customer’s house!), you can use workforce management tools to assign drivers who are near the customer to deliver it, saving time, money, and mileage.
Is your delivery team forecasting suffering from rising inflation costs? Find the answers to reducing enroute delivery costs in our guide.
Time and attendance tracking
Time and attendance management is a highly important aspect of workforce management. It involves time tracking employees’ working hours, vacation time, and absences.
Doing so makes sure companies manage their workforces effectively.
There are two ways to track time and attendance.
Manual systems have existed for decades — long before workforce management software came along and added some much-needed oomph to clocking in at work.
If you still use manual systems, it could be time for a change.
Manual timekeeping means employees send self-service timesheets. This method can be time-consuming, prone to errors, and what some contact “shadow work.”
Shadow work sucks. It means workers do extra stuff on top of what you pay them — like filling in timesheets or other office tasks not in their job description.
Who wants that at 9 am Monday?
Automated systems help track employee time and attendance in real time. They can use time clocks or other software applications to log hours worked.
It means less work for you, making Friday afternoons even more special.
Humans make mistakes. It’s just what we’ve been doing for thousands of years. Luckily, automated timesheets don’t have to worry about evolution getting in the way.
Focusing on employee performance helps you align employees’ goals with the goals and priorities of the business.
Examples of performance management tools include performance metrics and employee feedback.
Performance metrics are quantifiable ways to evaluate an employee’s performance, such as meeting delivery targets or pay-per-drop quotas.
Performance metrics are ways to measure success.
They’ll let you know if Pete has smashed those quarterly on-time delivery targets or if productivity is chugging along worse than an old spluttering station wagon 😮💨.
However, feedback is more subjective. It may include performance reviews or 360-degree feedback — or even just general discussions between a dispatch manager and a delivery driver.
Training and development
Workforce management also helps employees grow through training and development — like a sunflower on a sunny day.
You can do this by tracking, developing, and finding ways to improve delivery driver’s skills.
Plus, it makes sure delivery drivers have the right credentials that match what dispatchers and managers are searching for.
Community training programs help workers upskill through external organizations, like gaining professional qualifications or passing their driving test to become a delivery driver.
Internal development paths are usually routes within an organization. They include leadership development opportunities and talent scouting by analyzing metrics and performance data.
Cultivating your employees and helping them grow can be a big win for employee engagement and retention. It helps employees feel valued by allowing them to progress and upskill.
Now, who doesn’t love that, eh? 🌻
Naturally, some employees promote, retire, or leave an organization for another job.
Succession planning can help identify who’s leaving and when and find suitable replacements based on their past and current performance.
Succession planning is similar to training and development opportunities spotted using workforce management tools.
That’s because succession planning identifies employees excelling in their roles who might be suitable for more senior jobs in the future.
However, quantitative methods aren’t always king. More subjective tools, like mentor and coaching programs, help bridge the gap between data and human intuition.
Leadership development opportunities, such as stretch assignments, can also help.
Stretch assignments are projects designed to challenge employees by going beyond their current job role responsibilities — requiring them to “stretch” their skills and abilities.
Workforce management helps succession planning by identifying and developing future talent.
For example, when it comes to last-mile delivery, workforce management can help identify delivery drivers who usually excel working on certain delivery routes — making deliveries in that area even better through optimization.
Communication and collaboration
A business that communicates well is one step ahead of its competitors that don’t.
It’s easy to assume modern communication tools, such as email, made communication at work a problem solved 20 years ago.
Yet, making sure everyone is on the same page can still be challenging.
Good collaboration begins by being direct, having clear messages, and continuously working to improve communication throughout the organization.
Thankfully, it’s 2023, and there are many communication and collaboration tools to help your business run seamlessly.
For instance, delivery drivers like to communicate through WhatsApp and Telegram instead of using proprietary software with their clunky interfaces and notoriously shoddy UX design.
In fact, 88 percent of users who use a website or mobile app are less likely to return after a bad user experience.
People really hate bad user interfaces.
So, a great way to communicate with your team is to use the tools they’re already using and prefer to use. Creating a WhatsApp group is much better (and cheaper) than forcing your employees to use some poorly built comms tools from 2001.
Plenty of tools can help you communicate better, including chat platforms, analytics dashboards, and project management systems.
Communication is worth taking seriously.
In fact, effective communication can increase productivity by up to 25%, increase collaboration, and help embed trust in the workplace.
How does workforce management work?
Workforce management is a comprehensive process, and to get the most out of it, it’s best to follow these basic steps:
- Identify staffing needs. Identify the number of employees needed to meet your business’s objectives. Assess your workforce, analyze your business goals, and identify any gaps in skills or experience.
- Forecast future demand. Forecast future demand for labor, such as considering seasonal demand, production, and current and past market trends. This can help you calculate the number of employees required to fill those pesky Christmas blind spots.
- Schedule employees. Create a staffing schedule and sign workers up for their shifts. This needs determining the number of employees needed at each level of the business to streamline scheduling.
- Track attendance and performance. This involves monitoring employee attendance, productivity, and the quality of their work.
- Collaborate and communicate with stakeholders. Effective WFM solutions involve collaboration and clear communication with various departments and stakeholders. It’s easiest to do this using the latest technology, including project management tools and chat messaging integrations.
Benefits and challenges of workforce management
The benefits of workforce management mean WFM is increasingly used to manage global workforces, such as in contact centers and fast-food restaurants with big supply chains that need frequent deliveries.
So, there are many benefits and some challenges.
A flexible workforce management system allows businesses to quickly meet modern consumers’ demands.
This is important for a delivery service, where companies must respond to meet customer demand fast while balancing customer service.
Workforce management can help balance all this in real time by allocating resources and organizing labor better.
Being able to respond quickly, manage your workforce successfully by having enough team members, and better allocate resources can result in:
- Increased operational efficiency
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Improved employee productivity
- Reduced turnover rates due to improved employee experience
Another benefit is that automation can take over many WFM processes for you.
This gives you a chance to skip the donkey work and more time running a successful delivery business.
Some challenges come with using workforce management systems.
No matter your WFM processes, managing a diverse global workforce is still complex.
You’ll need dedicated staff to do this well, and you’ll need to consider their needs, such as skill level to determine pay and other costs related to employing staff, like employee benefits.
Although technology is super useful when managing a workforce, it also changes, and you may struggle to keep up with the latest workforce management systems — like updating mobile apps delivery drivers use to check their shifts, for instance.
Not to mention, pricing for communication apps like Slack, Trello, and Microsoft Teams can be expensive.
Plus, there are compliance risks. You’ll still need to comply with labor laws and regulations.
How Circuit for Teams can help with workforce management
Workforce management is like a sleek, shiny, new spaceship from NASA. It looks cool, but the controls can seem a little daunting if you want to take it for a ride.
There’s no need to worry.
Circuit for Teams can help you and your dispatchers set up and use workforce management tools to optimize your workforce and make some faster deliveries.
Just take route optimization, for instance.
With Circuit for Teams, you can export monthly metrics for all your drivers’ routes.
It shows dispatchers how many stops a driver has made in a day, how far they have traveled, and how long it took them to complete their journey.
It makes figuring out how much to pay your delivery drivers or how much to reimburse them for gas fast.
The future of workforce management
Consumers in 2023 are a demanding bunch. They want businesses that can deliver when they need them too.
Whether it’s fast food, retail, or delivery services — today’s customers value convenience and flexibility.
That’s why companies are bringing workforce management into their businesses to make sure their workforce can respond flexibly to meet the burgeoning demands of today’s customers.
Ultimately, the potential for workforce management to drive business success is enormous.
Forecasting, scheduling, absence management, metrics, and workforce analytics can revolutionize the world of work.
In the future, more powerful data analysis will produce greater insights for businesses in real time — making workforce management an even more powerful and valuable tool moving forward.
Get your workforce optimized for success today. Try Circuit for Teams.