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Workforce management

What is workforce management

What is workforce management?

Workforce management is optimising a company's employees (WFM for short). The definition tells us that this kind of management is a set of processes rather than a clear sequence of actions. For example, it includes forecasting the need for new employees, creating work schedules for entire companies, setting up systems to track staff, etc.

Services designed for workforce management show exactly how many employees are needed for a specific task and their profession and competence level. They track employee productivity and highlight those who work hardest and need time off. The benefits of a workforce management system are also the simplified budgeting that a company will spend on staff salaries and training or project management. With such a system, it is easier to allocate personnel to tasks, balance the workload of teams and individual employees, and monitor attendance and the company's compliance with the laws of a particular country.

Workforce management simplifies the processes of benefits and payout management, instant shift pay and expense audit. It also works with fast approval of annual leave and free time schedules for employees. Simply put, WFM is a big part of the consulting industry; not every firm can afford multiple specialists in this kind of management.

The main advantages of workforce management solutions are seamless outsourcing of employees, easy management of talent, their training and development within the organisation. They also include tracking changes in employee competencies and salaries, automation of data collection, control over operational flexibility and employee motivation.

Remote workforce management

Remote workforce management

Remote workforce management is the management of employees who work remotely. Communication meets technology because effective management is impossible without the latter. Such management implies adherence to clear leadership principles: no micromanagement and no exaggerated (or unspoken) expectations of employees! Staff need to know what the company's goals are, what productivity they need to achieve in the coming days, and when they can leave work (i.e. disconnect from corporate Slack). Also, workforce management companies advise notifying employees immediately to set up checks - such as being at work - and meetings to share relevant news and concerns and discuss important issues.

Remote management also requires tremendous attention to how employees feel, whether they are motivated to achieve the business goal, and whether they are in the early stages of burnout. Special applications can help you keep track of busy schedules, but professional intervention will be required further down the line. Moreover, of course, don't forget the need for social interaction, which should be present in the office no matter how far away employees are physically from it. Some remote management solutions even allow you to offer employees online team building, keeping track of when it is needed. But in many ways, WFM in teleworking is about a tool that optimises the work itself.

The challenges of remote workforce management

First, employees are much more likely to be distracted. Simply because a manager who notices that the wrong tabs are open on their laptop can't pass by. Yes, some workforce management tools even allow you to monitor this from a distance, but their use is heavily frowned upon in the professional community. You don't interact with a person from one meter away, so you can't verify their involvement, no matter how much you want to.

Second, employees are more likely to feel isolated from the rest of the team. It means that their motivation and procrastination levels can change at the speed of light. It can't help but affect the rate with which the team achieves results and the overall team climate, and when you think about the communication problems that can arise, managers of half or completely remote teams can get sick. That is precisely why a good workforce management app is needed.

The benefits of remote staff management

If the team works remotely, you don't have to rent an office, buy equipment, pay for lunches and transportation if the employee goes home late, which reduces costs for the company. Additionally, the team becomes more dynamic and flexible to switch between tasks quickly. And you can hire employees from anywhere in the world - assuming the laws of those countries allow it, of course - so you can save on the skills and experience your company needs.

Remote workforce management is not the same as mobile workforce management. A mobile workforce refers to remote workers who regularly come to their workplace in an office or co-working space but can carry out their duties from home, when travelling to another country, etc. They are not completely remote and therefore are called mobile, capable of moving around as part of the company's requirement, and they, too, need to be controlled by special applications.

How do you effectively manage a remote workforce?

How do you effectively manage a remote workforce

  • Treat these employees as individuals, not as robots. There is virtually no difference between a person who works remotely and an employee in the office. The main thing is how the specialist uses their skills within the framework of the job. Yes, jobs are different. Sometimes, an employee's presence at the workplace is crucial, but in this case, they can be called an outsourcer, a mobile employee rather than a fully remote team member. Don't change your management style depending on whether there are remote employees in the team. A remote employee is the same as your colleague sitting ten metres away from you, but they work online.
  • Communicate with remote workers. You will have to communicate a lot - otherwise, they won't feel part of the team. So, in general, you will have to call the remote team several times a week, correspond with the "remote" managers a couple of times a day, and be ready to communicate here and now if necessary. The more you are in contact that mimics real contact, the greater extent to which your employees will be involved in the workflow.
  • Refuse to micromanage. Don't ask what time an employee clocked in today or yesterday. Don't ask ten times a day at what stage a task is. You can view the details you are interested in via workforce management scheduling. Don't monitor employees via open tabs and keystroke logging, which is also frowned upon by the market. Trust your employees, but check the scheduler application. Your legal team will deal with the rest if anything happens. Trust me, your staff will appreciate it and think you're nice, which will help long-distance communication.

Workforce management scheduling

What is this? It is workforce scheduling. It determines how many people you need for the project and what competencies you want your staff to have. It is sometimes called staff scheduling and indicates their progress in completing tasks. In general, it helps you to control the workload of your staff, take them out of the process in time, and increase the efficiency of your project teams. Among other things, workforce management scheduling makes it possible to:

  • Manage employees' schedules and quickly navigate changes in their schedules. It will help speed up decision-making and "close" gaps in unexpected shifts. You can also determine how much time an employee needs to complete a particular task and make decisions based on that information.
  • Outsource staff management. Best workforce management software allows tracking sales, shifts, schedules, deliveries, and freelance staff involvement levels. It enables you to reduce staff and at the same time cut costs. And you don't have to waste time scheduling freelancers manually.
  • Follow the organisation's by-laws and the laws that apply to the workforce. You have to agree that not every lawyer, let alone a manager or analyst, can keep track of the millions of acts that come out daily, and they still need to be followed! The solution is simple - set up a WFM system. It will monitor your team's compliance with all regulatory requirements and record potential areas of non-compliance. These often include rest time between shifts, noticeable in breach scenarios modelled, and minimum wages.

Workforce management software and tools

Workforce management software and tools

Let's get to the fun part - apps to help you manage your employees! We have compiled a selection of services that successfully replace popular platforms such as Aspect Workforce Management or Salesforce - although the latter is more sales-orientated than personnel-orientated, it is often used as WFM software.

  • Deel

    This platform allows you to hire contractors, sign contracts without leaving the app, and then pay them all right here and with minimal fees. It accepts Wise, PayPal, Revolut and Payoneer, and you can withdraw funds to a Coinbase wallet. There is functionality for both employees and companies. The service is similar to Infor - a global management platform for enterprise resource planning. Deel integrates with other applications and offers a free demo.
  • Papaya Global

    The service supports all the functionality that a modern project manager or HR professional might need. It calculates payroll, calculates the number of hours required to complete a task, and draws up contracts with contractors. The application is based on artificial intelligence, which can automate almost any process in your company and negotiate with clients - as in Verint or Focus Workforce Management! The platform also monitors legislation in various countries. It notifies users of potential violations, tracks the company's attractiveness in the labour market and why key employees leave, and helps you understand how you can improve your diversity-related performance. You have to pay $20 per employee per month.
  • ADP Workforce Now

    It is a company with more than seventy years of history, offering the best team management products. The app provides all the features listed in the WFM processes described above. And, in fact, it more than replaces another popular but less convenient HR service, Calabrio, or the much-used Kronos. There is also a function for managing recruitment and onboarding systems. The product is well-suited to small and medium-sized businesses and boasts a handy mobile app for employees with its functionality. The forty-nine-employee version costs $160 per month. You can try it out first - there's a free trial month.
  • ClickUp

    ClickUp is a service that boosts employee productivity without lecturing or moral abuse. It tracks tasks and their distribution to employees and captures the progress of their implementation. Used during employee training, it integrates with calendars, instant messengers and video conferencing apps. Experts speak of ClickUp as a service with excellent visualisation, understandable to any manager. The trial version of the service is free, and the personal version is free, too. However, if you want to link your employees to it, you will need to pay $5 per person per month.
  • SwipedOn Pocket

    We mention this app because it is considered one of the best options for tracking employees' visits to workplaces and creating an environment where they can feel safe. For example, the app can generate QR codes to enter a building, ask users how they feel, and signal management if something goes wrong. The service has a free version for a fortnight; you must pay $49 monthly if you want to continue to use it.

Workforce management in a call centre

Personnel management is particularly relevant for call centres, which require automation of virtually every process. In the contact centre, by the way, WFM technology will also find use. Workforce management allows you to ensure that the right number of operators are on shift, that they have the knowledge they need to advise customers, and that they are working, not watching soap operas or drinking coffee for 40 minutes at a time. Sometimes, call centres use outsourced workforce management - freelancers hired to perform specific tasks. Not to be confused with mobile or remote management - they refer to permanent staff who work in-house but on a remote basis. Contingent WFM (a feature found on the Genesys platform, for example) allows you to schedule the number of operators on a line for the workload expected on a particular day and pay for the shift as soon as it gets completed. Using a built-in artificial intelligence service will make decisions based on past load and operator data, among other things. Nevertheless, you would have to collect data from all channels of communication with customers, which could lead to additional costs.