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Workforce Management Scheduling and Planning Techniques

Workforce Management Scheduling and Planning Techniques

In order to meet customer demands, workforce planners need to ensure that agents with the right skill sets are available at the right time .

With the number of customer contact channels continuously increasing, workforce scheduling can be an extremely complex and labour intensive job. Accuracy can quickly get compromised when variables such as agent training, absenteeism, holidays and staff work-time preferences are added into the equation.

Accurate shift patterns are the key for optimising resource and minimising expenses. They meet the dual purpose of ensuring service levels are efficiently met whilst providing work patterns that contribute to the employee’s work/life balance.

Multi skill and multi channel resource optimisation are now a must.

Manual rota creations through spreadsheets are possible, however to effectively schedule for a multi channel organisation, WFM becomes a prerequisite.

Spreadsheets and Ernald C tables are perfect calculations, but they have major shortcomings for the modern service operation as they can only assume a steady call rate and zero abandonment rate, resulting in over-staffing and increased costs.

WFM however, is capable of creating automated and optimised schedules with intra-day management ensuring that staff are utilised in the best and most cost efficient way.

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Types of Shift Patterns to Consider

  • Fixed shifts for full and part time staff are no longer the mainstay of the resource profile. WFM applications allow rotating shift patterns to be created easily.
  • Flexi shift patterns can also be layered over base staffing whereby contracts are based on allocating hours at short notice to cover peaks.
  • Split shifts may help with covering start and end of day coverage, facilitating employees with children at school who may prefer annualised hours contracts.

Through WFM, Contact centres are also starting to offer agents the added benefit of shift bidding and preference based scheduling.

  • Shift Bidding allows agents to bid for shifts based on certain criteria such as length of service or a performance metric. This method of staffing is particularly useful for a one off or special event. For example, if you need to fill every seat in the contact centre for unprecedented demand, creating shifts and allowing agents to bid is an effective method of staffing for the one off sale, charity or emergency events.
  • Preference based scheduling asks the agent to specify a number of preferences for shift allocation.  The preferences can be based on start times, days of the weeks, or preferred working patterns. The WFM application can allocate the shift that best matches the agent’s requirements ensuring staffing requirements and staff preferences are both met.

Be Creative!

The key is to find a resource plan that meets the need of the organisation and industry sector combined with attractive shifts that employees will want to work.


  • Take agent skill, specialisation and type of calls handled into consideration when creating the schedule
  • Make sure all scheduling policies are clearly delineated for agents
  • Provide agents with options when selecting their schedule such as: the option to work fewer days with more concentrated shifts and the option to have flexible start and end times
  • Make sure you have an on-call reserve of agents ready to work ASAP when needed
  • Allow agents to work from home when they are on-call.



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