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What is Workforce Management?

What is Workforce Management?


What is Workforce Management? 

Workforce Management (WFM) in its simplest form is about assigning the right person to the right job at the right time, ensuring that a sufficient level of staff are always present to meet demand.

WFM has typically been deployed in contact centre environments and according to the Professional Planning Forum, over 82% of contact centres already make use of the technology to perform agent scheduling and forecasting, in order to ensure service level agreements are consistently met.

The main functions of Workforce Management software fall under:

  • Scheduling
  • Forecast 
  • Performance management
  • Employee engagement
  • Payroll, time and attendance records

In order to hit targets and continue to improve the level of service provided, contact centre managers need to ensure that sufficient numbers of agents, with the right level of skills and experience are available at any given time, regardless of traffic volume fluctuations. In order to do so, planners need to understand availability and take into account planned and unexpected events as well as agent preferences.

Taking all of these aspects into consideration and making these changes manually, requires a significant amount of time and is prone to human error. Workforce Management systems automatically compile highly detailed and sophisticated traffic forecasts that can be adjusted to reflect known events as well as the ability to amend forecasts using ‘what if’ scenarios. 

Workforce Management does not simply manage the current labour needs but plans for future needs as well, building in contingencies so that organisations can adapt with changing requirements as they occur.

Scheduling

The main objective of staff scheduling is to create schedules that meet all legal and contractual requirements, as well as taking into account employees’ qualifications, personal working time preferences and availability. Workforce Management automates these requirements and allows employees to participate in the planning process, leading to happier, more motivated staff.

Workforce Management systems can also help you predict long-term needs, meaning they can be utilised to schedule agent training programmes to grow your workforce skills. – Not sure whether we need this at the end and if we want to keep it I think it needs more explanation.

Forecasting

For workforce planning to be successful, you must be able to predict your short, medium and long-term staffing requirements. When forecasts are inaccurate, the schedules are irrelevant. Unfortunately, contact centre leaders often lack complete visibility into activities that impact their future contact volumes, forcing them to do the best they can with the available information. This information gap occurs when contact volume is driven by activities outside of the group’s control or as a result of unexpected events such as system problems or lack of communication between departments.

In order to make sure you have the right number of staff in place at the right time, you first need to work out what the right number is. This number is chiefly determined by your operations. Workforce Management is a set of tools that help you forecast how your business activities will develop and how these plans will affect your staffing needs.

Performance management

Performance management is a means of ensuring that organisations and staff fulfil their potential and effectively meet the targets and goals that they have been set. When applied properly it can help organisations develop their workforce and staff, giving them specific goals and objectives to aim for and enables them to track their progress over time.

For an organisation to implement any kind of performance management programme, they must first identify what it is they want to measure which can then be tracked through a Workforce Management system.

Example of possible performance metrics are:

  • Percentage of calls answered within an agreed time
  • Percentage of time a customer is on hold
  • The number of calls resolved first time
  • Quality monitoring scores

Employee engagement

Employee engagement can help contact centres deliver high levels of customer service as well as decrease agent turnover and reduce overall operational costs. A growing number of organisations are giving agents more control of their schedule through tools like self-service. Through self-service, agents feel more in control of their schedule and can easily communicate with their team manager and each other to establish more suitable working hours.  Some examples of flexibility options available for your employees include: 

  • Overtime availability
  • Preference scheduling
  • Flexi-shifts
  • Home working

Most employees today are looking for work flexibility to accommodate for their busy and complex lifestyle schedules. Through Workforce Management, agents have increased visibility of schedules and self service opportunities such as shift swaps and automated time off requests. By setting auto-approvals for holiday and shift swap requests for example, staff-are not required to wait until the next day for an answer should their managers be out of the office.

Payroll, time and attendance records

The results of implementing an integrated Workforce Management system can be seen in all areas of the business. By allowing you to automate and standardise routine recurring tasks, Workforce Management gives you time to focus on what’s important.

WFM also involves ensuring that the contact centre team are paid promptly and on time. However, the contact centre is not the easiest place to do this.

Why? Because pay is often split between a basic salary and an array of bonuses, which often include:

  • Quality bonuses
  • Team bonuses
  • Target bonuses
  • Absence bonuses

So, there must be good lines of communication between the contact centre floor and the WFM team to ensure that all incentives are financially viable.

In addition, the WFM team will also be charged with conducting salary reviews every so often.

Re-cap

Workforce Management is a very useful tool to help contact centres ensure operations are running as smoothly as possible ensuring you meet targets.

For more information on how to use Workforce Management systems check out our Workforce Management Advice Hub.

Or you view our range of Workforce Management products