Saving time and money and building a stronger, more efficient team are at the heart of workforce management. Implementing a system to handle this core challenge can solve a range of the most common business problems, from inaccurate timesheets to inefficient scheduling and slow sales.
What is Workforce Management?
As a manager, or business leader you’re tasked with many responsibilities. Workforce management is a general term for all of those tasks — forecasting labor demands, scheduling staff, organizing timesheets, and executing payroll. Good workforce management systems help you work quickly, efficiently, and accurately.
Why does Workforce Management matter?
Whether you manage a staff of three or three thousand, you’re likely wasting time and money on manual tasks. And when your bottom line depends on having the right staff in place at the right time, you don’t have room for error.
Thankfully, the right workforce management system:
- Creates more efficient scheduling
- Can boost sales
- Improves data analysis
- Raises employee satisfaction
- Builds employee retention
- Reduces payroll costs
Good workforce management starts by building a strong foundation rather than optimizing what you have. Optimisation is about refining your current processes to make them as efficient as they can be. But refining outdated processes is fundamentally flawed.
Starting with the foundation of your business means you can truly understand your problems and why they happen, and then create bespoke solutions that get to the heart of your business needs.
Step 1: Identify your business problems
It’s simple but true: in order to fix your business problems, you need to know what they are. Start by asking these questions:
- Where is my business suffering?
- Why do we do things the way we do them?
- What information do I need to fix the problem?
Perhaps your scheduling is inefficient, or you have trouble maximizing sales. Whatever your problem is, you can only build a solution once you’ve identified the nature of the challenge.
Processes that worked at the start of your journey won’t always hold up as your team grows. So ask yourself: why are you managing your team this way — and could you be doing it better?
Step 2: Gather and share information
Gathering, analyzing and sharing up-to-date information is crucial to the success of your team. You need to be recording data consistently and efficiently, and sharing it with people in a way that drives innovation and change.
Knowing what information to collect, and how to share it with your team, is the hard part. Out-of-date information leads to out-of-date policies and processes that slow down growth.
Once you have the right data, you need to share it with the right people in the right way. Many businesses internalize and silo information in different departments. But you need to be able to access all your data in one place if you’re going to integrate it into a workforce management system.
Step 3: Consider potential data inputs for a workforce management system
Your specific data needs will vary depending on the nature of your business. Here are six data points that you might want to include in your system.
Transactions: This refers to sales transactions especially data like the time of day, the value of a sale, the number of items sold within a given transaction, or the specific items sold.
Foot traffic: Foot traffic here is a placeholder for any kind of potential inbound traffic. This represents your overall potential physical customers at the time. Depending on the information you have access to, this may be the number of cars in a drive-through, the number of pedestrians who walk past your store, or the number of people who actually walk into a given store.
Weather: Weather can act as a strong predictor for overall sales volume. For example, your average restaurant or cafe can expect an uptick in sales on a sunny summer day. Remember, the more information the better — temperature, wind speed, season, and humidity are all data points that can be useful.
Labour laws: In the UK, this generally refers to the Working Time Directive, but more generally refers to the overall legal framework that a business operates in. It’s vital for modern businesses to ensure labor compliance and adherence to local regulations. Your workforce management system can provide checkpoints to help you stay compliant.
Contract: More simply, how you pay your employees. For example, you might pay night rates or overtime for working more than 8 hours on a shift or 40 hours in a week. For a workforce management system to reduce your potential spend, it needs to know when you spend on your employees. By taking this information into account, you can avoid paying out unnecessary overtime or penalty rates.
HR data: This refers to all of the various data points around an employee’s profile within your business.
Key data points include:
- Employee’s contact information
- Employee hire date
- Employee date of births
- Employee role and responsibilities
Step 4: Streamline payroll
For many businesses, the largest outgoing cost is payroll. Getting your payroll information online makes collecting and processing data easier and more efficient.
As a first step, we recommend an extensive legal review, so you can be sure that you understand the legal framework underneath your payroll practices and processes.
Automating payroll calculations through a workforce management system eliminates human error, but even computers aren’t perfect. You need to implement a continual process of review, so both you and your employees can be completely confident that they will be paid what they have earned in a timely manner
Streamlining logistics: For last-mile delivery service Harper Logistics, rapid growth created administrative headaches that started to hit the bottom line. With a workforce management platform, the company was able to automate driver scheduling and cut payroll processing from days to minutes.
Step 5: Analyse your data and keep it safe
Localizing data in one place reduces both risks and costs. And once it’s in a single location, data collection and visualization technology can show you patterns and trends that help you grow your business.
Clarity across multiple franchises: Chocolate business San Churro uses a workforce management system to get an accurate view of staff roster costs and award rates across its 52 franchises. The savings in admin time are estimated at £70,000 per year.
Your existing processes may be standing in the way of progress. If, for example, your timesheets are all done on paper, running even basic data analytics is challenging. Upgrading to an online system that can run algorithms for you can save time, money, and effort that your team can use on other projects.
A bird’s eye view of the business: For mobile business the Wandering Pizza Co, workforce management software ensures staff are paid fairly for the hours they work, with easy and impartial time recording. Timetabling gives a forward view of staff availability in the coming weeks, so managers are able to plan shifts with ease.
Step 6: Drive employee adoption
Once you’re convinced that implementing a workforce management system is the right move for your business, the final step is to bring your employees on the journey with you.
Highlight the benefits: Your employees will gain autonomy, accurate and timely pay, and clarity into upcoming schedules and changes.
Focus on ease of use: Reassure your employees that the change will require minimal effort and is easy to use.
Give your team options: What do you do if an employee doesn’t have a smartphone? Ensure you have a back-up plan that makes everyone feel included and catered for.
Saving time: Fast-growing coffee chain Volcano Coffee Works uses workforce management to ensure staff gets paid smoothly. Integration with payroll software means complete timesheets translate seamlessly into on-time payments for staff. The finance manager is able to upload 40 invoices in 20 seconds, a level of efficiency that’s helping the business to grow.
Ease and speed: Jo Williams uses workforce management to schedule the team of 11 private caregivers she needs to support her independent living. Ease of use plus communication and geolocation features provides peace of mind and helps ensure she receives the care she needs.
Four Best Practices to Roll Out New Workforce Management Software
- Find a system that matches your specific needs. You’ll be able to identify what those needs are using your data.
- Prepare your stakeholders for change. Notify anyone who is going to be impacted that the overhaul is coming up, and use their knowledge to make implementation run smoothly.
- Communicate. Send out a weekly email, have team meetings, print out posters: do whatever you need to do to keep your employees in the loop.
- Be adaptable. Iterate based on your team’s needs.
Workforce Management in action
For managers and owners, more staff and more locations usually mean a ton of extra admin and lost time. Before you know it, you’re running just to stand still. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Whether you manage one location or hundreds, workforce management puts the tools you need at your fingertips, simplifies all the admin, and sets you up to achieve your best results.
It’s up to you to make last-minute schedule changes, find relief staff when someone is off sick, and collect accurate timesheets.