Using Software to Manage an Ever Larger Workforce

Running a business is  a constant juggling act of schedules, paperwork, and the ever-elusive quest for optimised workflows. Even the seasoned managers among us find themselves wrestling with the intricacies of these tasks. Now, throw into the mix the challenge of steering an ever-expanding workforce, and you've got a real head-scratcher on your hands.

And in this post-pandemic work environment, more and more work is happening online and the complexities of managing a growing team seem to multiply. 

In this article we will look at a solution to this problem—specialised workforce management systems.  These software tools are  designed to do the heavy lifting, ensuring your staff is where they should be, when they should be. 

No more overspending or cutting corners on your labour force – this software is always tracking staff activity, helping you uncover the secrets of how your people work and who your MVPs are.

It's not just about simplifying work schedules and paperwork—it's about unlocking the true potential of your workforce. So get ready to revolutionise the way you run your business with workforce management software. 

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What Does Workforce Management Software Actually Do?

Workforce management software is a game-changer for companies aiming to maximise the value derived from their workforce. 

Also referred to as labour management software, it plays a pivotal role in streamlining various aspects of human resource management such as onboarding and talent management programs.

The primary goal of workforce management software is twofold. Firstly, it strives to instil consistency into core processes, ensuring that fundamental aspects of workforce management are executed seamlessly. 

Secondly, it ventures into the realm of data optimisation, leveraging collected data to fine-tune and enhance the workforce. 

Its ability to bring order to essential processes and leverage data for optimization makes it an indispensable tool in the modern business landscape.

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Workforce Management vs. Workforce Optimization

In the business landscape, two terms that often cross paths are workforce management (WFM) and workforce optimization. These terms are frequently used interchangeably, and even when distinctions are attempted, the line between them remains hazy, lacking a consistent definition. 

To put it simply, workforce optimization can be seen as an evolved, more sophisticated version of workforce management.

Workforce management, or WFM, is all about establishing consistent, repeatable, and automated processes for tasks you're likely already handling. This encompasses essential functions like staff scheduling, time tracking, leave and absence management, and ensuring regulatory compliance. 

Often tailored for smaller businesses, WFM solutions become particularly beneficial for companies making the shift from manual to automated processes. 

It's worth noting that businesses with a modest staff size of ten to twenty employees might not reap the same advantages from advanced analytics as larger enterprises.

On the other hand, workforce optimization goes a step further, building upon the foundations laid by workforce management. This evolution introduces analytics and additional features that enhance decision-making capabilities. 

By layering on top of workforce management features, workforce optimization equips strategic decision-makers with actionable insights that transcend routine operational tasks.

In other words, workforce management lays the groundwork for operational efficiency. On the other hand, workforce optimization takes it up a notch by integrating advanced analytics, empowering businesses with strategic insights for informed decision-making.

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Key Features of Workforce Management Software

At the heart of workforce management software lie its core features, acting as the indispensable toolkit for owners, managers, and administrators to assert control over their workforce. 

Let's delve into the pivotal components that define workforce management software:

1. Employee Scheduling

Employee scheduling, the art of crafting work schedules that ensure optimal staffing levels, is a practice familiar to virtually every business. 

However, many still find themselves stuck in the inefficiencies of the 20th century, with a staggering 45% of shift workers receiving schedules on pieces of paper. Manual shift scheduling, a process taking over two hours for more than half of employers, underscores the need for a more streamlined approach.

This is where software-based scheduling steps in to revolutionise the game. Auto-schedulers automate the schedule creation process with a click, taking into account the constraints you set. While the initial setup might require some time, the long-term time savings are undeniable. Such interfaces offer an intuitive way to manage schedules efficiently. 

Additionally, scheduling apps often integrate communication tools, sending real-time notifications to employees about new schedules or changes. These platforms also serve as a central hub for shift swapping and finding replacements, a feature particularly crucial in industries like hospitality.

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2. Time and Attendance Tracking

In the realm of workforce management, understanding when your employees worked is a nuanced challenge, particularly in certain industries. Time and attendance tracking revolve around three key pillars: convenience, reliability, and fraud prevention.

Convenience manifests through the provision of multiple time clocks, a feature often embedded in software solutions. These time clocks are not confined to a fixed location—instead, many can be accessed conveniently via mobile devices. 

For field and distributed teams that lack a centralised time clock, this mobile accessibility proves especially advantageous.

Reliability is paramount to prevent the loss of time data, particularly in remote sites or for teams operating in the field. Ensuring workers consistently clock in and out is where convenience plays a crucial role. 

Simultaneously, fraud prevention becomes essential to thwart any attempts at system abuse. Common abuses include clocking in on behalf of absent colleagues or manipulating clock-in and out times. 

Fraud prevention systems incorporate various measures such as requiring photos on clock-in, biometric validation, geofencing, and schedule enforcement. Many of these features are facilitated through associated mobile apps.

Integration with payroll systems is a standout feature of many time tracking modules. While time tracking holds intrinsic value, the ability to seamlessly export time sheets to payroll systems not only saves time but also reduces the risk of errors during data entry. 

3. Leave Management

Leave management, a crucial facet of workforce management, encompasses three key activities: tracking accumulated time off, processing time-off requests, and ensuring individuals on leave are not inadvertently scheduled. 

While these components may seem straightforward, the landscape of leave management introduces nuances in terms of flexibility and ease of use.

In the realm of flexibility, some workforce management systems cater to only limited types of leave, primarily focusing on legally mandated leave and a generic policy. 

The drawback here lies in the omission of separate tracking for various leave types like sick leave and vacation leave. While this may not pose an issue for some workplaces, it can complicate the implementation of specific company policies within the system.

On the flip side, ease of use often stands in contrast to the system's flexibility. Leave management systems offering only the essential features tend to function seamlessly right out of the box. 

However, more customisable systems require rule inputs, potentially introducing human errors and oversights into the process.

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4. Regulatory Compliance

The regulatory compliance module within workforce management software serves as an extension of the groundwork laid in the preceding sections. 

A prime example of this is evident in the realm of overtime. Scheduling apps can be configured to prevent employees from being scheduled for more than 40 hours a week, ensuring adherence to regulatory limits.

Break compliance is another critical aspect, especially in states where specific break durations are mandated based on the length of shifts. Shift managers often bear the responsibility of enforcing these breaks, but amidst chaotic shifts, this task may be overlooked. 

Time tracking systems come to the rescue by reminding employees to take breaks and alerting administrators if breaks are not observed.

Beyond these examples, workforce management plays a pivotal role in various other aspects of regulatory compliance, including overtime, part-time work, health and safety, and fair workweek regulations. The common thread is the software's ability to centralise relevant information and provide streamlined workflows for compliance.

5. Workforce Optimization Features

Workforce optimization features represent the pinnacle of sophistication, building and extending upon the foundations laid by workforce management software. 

It's essential to note that not all software solutions encompass the entire spectrum of these features. Instead, they often hone in on specific functionalities tailored to industry niches and focal points.

One notable aspect of workforce optimization features is their capacity to refine and amplify the capabilities of workforce management tools. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, these features are finely tuned to address specific needs, making them a potent asset in diverse business landscapes.

While the exact features can vary, a glimpse into the realm of workforce optimization often reveals elements like advanced analytics, predictive scheduling, and skills-based scheduling. 

Advanced analytics delve into the realm of data-driven insights, empowering decision-makers with a nuanced understanding of workforce dynamics. Predictive scheduling takes a forward-looking approach, anticipating staffing needs based on historical data and trends. 

Skills-based scheduling, on the other hand, aligns workforce deployment with individual skill sets, ensuring optimal task assignment.

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6. Workforce Analytics

Workforce analytics, a multifaceted realm, encompasses a diverse array of reports and metrics. While some are broadly applicable, others are tailor-made for specific industries or individual businesses. 

The hallmark of a robust workforce analytics suite lies in its ability to not only collect this varied data but also empower users to create custom dashboards and reports, facilitating strategic decision-making.

The spectrum of workforce analytics is quite broad, ranging from basic metrics like employee turnover and productivity to more industry-specific indicators. A comprehensive suite embraces the diversity of data, allowing businesses to gain insights into crucial aspects of their workforce dynamics.

7. Performance Management

A pivotal element of workforce management is employee performance management. While inherently a human interaction, the infusion of software can remarkably streamline the process. 

Performance management software steps in with automation, offering metrics about an employee's performance that can be seamlessly integrated into the review process.

Yet, the true impact of performance management software lies in its ability to usher in consistency. Many organisations grapple with disparate performance management processes, varying in frequency and style. 

This inconsistency poses challenges for high-level administrators seeking uniform visibility into workforce performance. Identifying high performers worthy of promotion or additional training becomes a formidable task in such varied landscapes.

Enter workforce management tools, serving as the solution by providing standardised workflows. This uniformity facilitates straightforward comparisons between employees and grants upper management a more cohesive and consistent view of the workforce. The result is an enhanced ability to conduct workforce planning and make informed personnel decisions.

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8. Labour Forecasting

Achieving maximum value from your workforce and ensuring profitability hinge on aligning your workforce with demand. While this may be straightforward in manufacturing, where labour requirements remain relatively constant, industries like retail and hospitality grapple with wide swings in necessary labour.

Enter the realm of labour forecasting within workforce management solutions, a strategic tool for budgeting and controlling labour costs. 

These forecasting modules leverage a spectrum of inputs, including historical data, seasonal trends, sales forecasts, and even weather forecasts, to estimate the required labour. 

The beauty of this lies in its ability to seamlessly integrate with employee scheduling modules, translating data-driven insights into a well-informed schedule.

9. Employee Monitoring

Employee monitoring assumes a dual role, serving as both a guardian of productivity and a bulwark against compliance issues. 

Gone are the days of surreptitious Minesweeper sessions in the back cubicle—today's workforce operates under the watchful eye of software that ensures task focus, eliminating the need for costly human oversight.

In the contemporary landscape, where remote work has become the norm, employee monitoring takes on added significance. This is particularly evident in industries like call centres and contact centres that have transitioned to virtual agents post-pandemic. 

Employee monitoring software emerges as the solution to these challenges. It not only employs various techniques to keep employees on task but also extends its reach to monitor computers for signs of malicious software and other data threats. 

10. Employee Engagement

Gallup's research shows that business units in the top quartile of employee engagement demonstrate an 18% increase in productivity and a remarkable 23% increase in profitability compared to those in the bottom quartile.

Employee engagement modules zero in on crucial tasks, notably collecting feedback and compiling statistics. Feedback mechanisms include smaller pulse surveys and more extensive engagement surveys. Pulse surveys, short-term and concise, serve as conversation starters and early indicators of potential dissatisfaction.

On the other hand, engagement surveys delve deeper, offering a comprehensive understanding of employee sentiments. The results from these surveys are often transformed into reports and dashboards, exemplified by the employee engagement dashboard in SAP SuccessFactors.

Beyond presenting raw survey results, these modules often enrich insights with benchmark data and contextual information. This added layer of data helps businesses translate abstract measures of engagement into tangible outcomes, such as reductions in attrition rates.

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Looking to trim expenses and make your business run smoother? Maybe you're revamping your digital game and scouting for new tools to manage your team. 

Perhaps you should consider shifting your HR operations to Workforce Management Software – a real game-changer for small businesses. It gives you the tools to smartly organise your team and reach new levels of success.

With these tools, you can schedule your employees with precision, keep tabs on their time and attendance, and let them handle their own admin with ease. The result? More productivity, lower costs, and top-notch customer service.

But that's not all. The fancy terms like 'performance management features' and 'analytics capabilities'? They're just fancy ways of saying this software can boost your business growth and make everything run like clockwork.

By getting on board with Workforce Management Software, small businesses can take their operations to new heights, make things work like a charm, and set the stage for success in today's cutthroat business scene.

Ready to boost your productivity? Get your hands on the perfect WFM for small businesses now!

Better workflows, better business

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