How many times have you had an employee call into work only to ask “am I on schedule today?”
Or what about the frequent email asking for the location of the time-off request form?
Your organization’s HR department is often taking the time to answer the same questions regarding their schedule, vacation time, payroll, and more. Wouldn’t it be great if these answers could all be found in one place? They can be when your team implements a workforce management solution.
What is workforce management?
Workforce management (WFM) is the process that an organization puts in place to optimize how productive its employees are. These operations involve accurately forecasting labor requirements to quantify the correct number of employees needed to complete a particular task or job at any given hour, day, week, or month. They also manage employee schedules and performance, including time and attendance tracking.
Typically, workforce management has three main goals:
Maximize the efficiency of your workplace
Manage all legal obligations
Engage and interact with your employees
Essentially, the right workforce management software can ensure your office, no matter how big or what industry it works within, is running smoothly, that all of your employees have the right tools and resources they need, that everyone has access to the same information, and that your team is providing a positive customer experience.
When you can incorporate a system that does all of this for you, not only can it positively impact your bottom line, but it also helps the people who make it all happen. When work is streamlined and made easier for your employees, it can pay off in a big way.
Elements of workforce management systems
Workforce management can be applied to a large range of employee programs and needed. These systems usually apply to many aspects of HR administration and are used to streamline a variety of day-to-day tasks. The goal of a WFM system is to be able to reduce any redundancies or errors, resolve discrepancies, and save time.
Workforce management covers a wide range of HR sectors and tasks, while providing information and data in real time. Some common elements of WFM systems are:
Onboarding: When a new employee is being onboarded, they can complete new hire paperwork, and other onboarding tasks, in one comprehensive system. This allows HR to automate and track the status of each item for better resource management.
Labor budgeting: When you’re able to plan for new projects and assess the bandwidth of certain teams or specific employees, your organization can be sure it’s staffed properly to meet any demands while remaining on top of labor costs.
Forecasting: A key feature in many workforce management systems is the ability to forecast labor demands that can help reduce over or understaffed workdays. This can limit businesses unnecessarily paying for overtime and help you improve your workforce planning strategy.
Staff scheduling: For employees who work hourly or are part-time workers, a WFM system can be used to build out schedules. It’s crucial that mistakes aren't made here, as they can lead to missed shifts, upset employees, and poor customer service.
Time and attendance: Many workforce management systems make clocking in and out easier so you can be sure that attendance is accurately accounted for and that there are no discrepancies in regards to attendance.
Employee portal: Many WFM products have a built-in employee self service portals where employees are able to log into and see when they’re scheduled to work, request time off, and clock in and out.
Asset tracking: Does your business need to keep track of resources that move among departments or teams? Or what about other items, like vehicles or company cards? These can all be recorded in WFM software.
Compensation and benefits: Payroll, compensation, and benefits are made easy because all employee’s work and direct deposit information is located in one central location.
Employee performance management: WFM tools can assist in making sure employee activities, and their outputs on specific projects and work assignments meet the goals of your company or organization.
Vacation and leave planning: Allows for HR professionals and employees to come together to request and approve any absences, vacations, or time off.
Creating a workforce management strategy
There’s no denying that workforce management systems provide a long list of benefits for your company by streamlining various HR tasks. But in order to truly get the most out of this software, you’ll need to build a strategy behind it, otherwise, you’ll struggle to achieve the level of productivity, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility needed to run a completely organized business.
Get your processes and policies in place
When it comes to elements of your business, like employee time and attendance, scheduling, and leave, if you want it all to run smoothly, you’ll need to standardize all of your rules and policies. Being as consistent and transparent as possible is crucial to it being applied fairly throughout your organization.
Automate attendance tracking
In certain industries, like call centers, retail, and entertainment, keeping attendance and knowing how many people on your staff are set to come into work can make or break the workday.
Plus, you never want your managers to spend countless hours procuring over a timesheet when there are more important tasks to be done. With so much technology at our fingertips, it doesn’t make sense to not take the time to automate how you track time and attendance. When you do, your HR and finance departments have more time to manage their team in a productive manner.
This will also improve data accuracy and reduce payroll errors.
Having one too many employees on a shift can make a difference when it comes to seeing a profit or a loss. To truly optimize cost revenue ratios, you’ll need to automate scheduling and due away with old school time clocks. Workforce management software can help supervisors and managers forecast their labor demands – making this easier than ever.
Benefits of incorporating workforce management tools
Clearly, WFM tools offer a wide variety of features and use cases, but you may be unsure of why you should be utilizing these tools at your business.
When you take full advantage of everything that a WFM tool can do, rather than rely on timesheets and other out-of-date procedures, some benefits you’ll start to notice are:
Enhanced visibility: No matter what sort of resource or process you’re interested in checking, WFM tools put everything in one place.
State-of-the-art automation: Say goodbye to manually updating a long list of documents, as workforce management software can automate processes for you.
Error-free scheduling: Since the bulk of WFM features are centered around scheduling, you can rely on the algorithms to save you time and resources, while eliminating any worry about being understaffed.
Real-time evaluation: With workforce management tools, you won’t have to wait until the end of the quarter, half, or fiscal year to evaluate how your employees are performing. You’ll be able to monitor their performance with real-time reporting, so nothing will come as a surprise.
Better employee engagement: When you’re looking to improve employee morale and boost engagement, workforce management can help by increasing transparency across all departments and processes. Doing so can also result in better customer satisfaction and a boost in customer service.
Reduce non-compliance risks: This is a huge benefit if you work at a larger organization, as you not only have to comply with local ordinances and union rules but also individual employment contracts and company policies. Any gap in compliance can result in an expensive fee and other associated costs.
Best workforce management software
Those interested in workforce management software are looking for an application that can help their business plan, manage, and track employee work, which includes labor requirements, employee schedules, and paid time off (PT0). WFM software is often used to forecast labor demand, create and assign employee schedules, keep track of attendance, and report on efficiency.
To be included in this category, a product must:
Track employee attendance and workforce competencies.
Allow HR professionals the ability to forecast labor demands and develop contingency plans.
Manage employee schedules, leave requests, and PTO.
Enable reporting on labor activities and workforce analytics.
* Below are the top five leading workforce management software solutions from G2’s Summer 2020 Grid® Report. Some reviews may be edited for clarity.
1. ADP Workforce Now
Those who use ADP Workforce Now get access to an easy-to-use and complete human capital management solution for companies that have more than 50 employees. It encompasses features like payroll, benefits, talent management, HR analytics, and time and labor management.
What users like:
“From onboarding, to hire/rehire, performance management, and termination, everything flows together, including to payroll, if you are set up that way. The system makes you work smarter and streamlines processes to make the workflow work for you. It’s great for payroll processing as you can see the preview and easily make corrections prior to processing. It’s very easy to create batches and save them for use later with their template management.
Time-off is very simple to manage, assign, and use. The guides for employees as well as practitioners are great and make the system easy to use. When there are updates needed, notifications appear to help you know what may change in advance.”
“The customer service could be better and there are some changes to the system that needs to be made. I have trouble reaching my personal representative most of the time. I wish I can get a hold of another rep if she is not available.”
Ceridian Dayforce is a global HR platform that allows HR professionals to transform the employee experience. It works by combining HR, payroll, workforce management, benefits, and talent management into a single application.
What users like:
“Ceridian Dayforce is a strong, easy to use application on both my phone (an Android) as well as my computer (a Macbook). It's simple to confirm my availability, shifts, and timesheet, which are the main things I use it for. This is also handy for a large company because we can trade shifts among employees incredibly easily and managers simply confirm the switches (or not). The calendar syncs to my GoogleCal as well as the phone calendar app without issue.”
“I dislike that much of the system is built in a way that the user cannot find data. It’s difficult for an administrator to run the system without having full access to the backend system. I rely much on Ceridian Dayforce Support but they are not as responsive as I would like. It would be helpful to have a bit more access as the administrator in order to run our system a bit more effectively.”
Those who use Paycom for their workforce management have a full HR solution in one database at their fingertips. Because of this, the same technology you use to hire new employees is the same application you’ll need to pay your staff, comply with regulations, train employees, and more. Paycom makes everything easy and completely streamlined.
What users like:
“This platform helps companies to administer and manage their payroll and HR processes through automation with a significant data security system. It provides very easy-to-use tools and functions to effectively carry out hiring, payroll, and HR, among others. It allows us to save a lot of time since it’s easy to access the employee information that is secure on this platform, even without the need to search for forms or manage any complex payroll task. Our work team can maintain fluidity of work and can discard the old method with paperwork.”
"As someone who onboards and trains new hires, it’s always a challenge to log in initially, reset the password, and update the username. We always face challenges with this, including being quickly locked out of the account.”
Kronos Workforce Central is an application made up of workforce management solutions that will help your business engage your employees. It includes labor analytics, time and attendance, scheduling, absence management, and more into one easy-to-use dashboard.
What users like:
“Kronos Workforce Central enables me to check my schedule at my workplace with ease. It has the functionality to add in requests for time off or manage paid time off. This application is designed with convenience in mind, bringing time management into every individual's hands.”
“The only disapproval that I have concerning Kronos Workforce Central is the speed. I’m uncertain if this is only an issue with us in our organization, yet toggling between web pages takes slower than normal loading time. When you have to do over 30 staff member's timesheets, so time tracking can be time-consuming, however this is a superior device.”
If your small or medium business has outgrown using spreadsheets, then look to BambooHR. This cloud-based application allows HR professionals to track and manage all essential employee information in a personalized Human Resources Information System (HRIS).
What users like:
“Super user friendly! They've thought of virtually everything and if they haven't, they'll always accept feedback/suggestions. Personally customized reports are very easy to create and use. Importing historical data was a cinch. Everyone I've worked with is beyond kind and so personable.”
“BambooHR is meant to be only for small or medium-sized organizations. Larger businesses cannot benefit much from this software. It offers training tracking but doesn’t offer full learning management functionality. BambooHR offers a poor mobile app. It’s much better used on browser web pages rather than apps. BambooHR’s main strength is its simplicity but it’s also a drawback as it allows very little customization. There are some things that we wish we can customize but are unable to do so.”
Whether you run a multi-million dollar operation or a small retail store, every business can benefit from implementing workforce management. When you streamline management’s workload, while also providing more transparently to the entire team around scheduling, everyone wins – including your customers.
Interested in learning more about expecting the unexpected? Take a deep dive into business forecasting and discover what could be just around the corner.
Mara is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2. In her spare time, she's typically at the gym polishing off a run, reading a book from her overcrowded bookshelf, going on walks with her rescue dog Zeke, or right in the middle of a Netflix binge. Obsessions include the Chicago Cubs, Harry Potter, and all of the Italian food imaginable. (she/her/hers)
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