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The Ultimate Guide to Workforce Management

By Vineforce | June 14, 2021

What is Workforce Management?  

In most workplaces, the phrase workforce management has become a popular term. But, what is workforce management and how does it apply to your organization? Moreover, what are the benefits? 

The definition of workforce management is “the application of information technologies in business, or the use of applications and other products to analyze, evaluate, and optimize workforce systems.”  

What that means is that workforce management involves all the tools and systems that your organization uses to effectively schedule employees. How you plan your schedules to ensure that the right people in the right place at the right time is workforce management in practice. Ultimately, when done right, it gives your organization maximum efficiency.  

There are a number of benefits that organizations can receive from using a workforce management approach, including: 

  • Enhanced Productivity 
  • Reduced Operational Costs 
  • Accurate Time Tracking 
  • Reliable Attendance Statistics
  • Improved Customer Service
  • Better Payroll Administration
  • Increased Compliance with State and Federal Labor laws
  • Agility and Flexibility to Respond to Changing Market Situations 

Workforce management requires a thoughtful, in-depth strategy to make the most of your number one resource: your employees. There are several elements that need to be considered for proper workforce management. These include: 

  • Forecasting  
  • Budgeting 
  • Scheduling 
  • Employee performance 
  • Compliance 
  • Payroll and Benefits 
  • Vacation Planning 

The best way to seamlessly bring these all together is to invest in reliable workforce management software.  

What is Workforce Management Software?  

Workforce management software is a program that you can use to help with employee scheduling. It is compatible with mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops. One of the main benefits of workforce management software is that it can be integrated with other HR applications or systems.  

Employees will use your workforce management software to ask for days off, swap a shift, and check how much paid leave they have.  The benefit is that it reduces the amount of administration work that HR departments need to complete. This allows them to focus on more key HR activities.  

An added benefit of workforce management software is that everything is done digitally, which reduces the amount of paperwork involved. This can be a cost-saver for your organization as well as an important part of reducing your environmental footprint.  

What Features & Capabilities to look for in a workforce management software?  

It is important to consider workforce management software as an investment that will improve your business. The end goal is to find the right fit that will take care of the small tasks. This will allow you the time to focus on what is really important to your company.  

The best workforce management software will improve your organization’s productivity and efficiency and reduce inefficiencies. Automating these administration tasks will cut down on time-consuming activities and give your employees the opportunity to focus on the more important jobs.  

If you are looking for a workforce management software solution for your organization, there are several things you’ll want to look for.   

  • Safety (CDC Guidelines) - compliance can be one of the biggest issues an organization needs to manage. Ensuring that you are keeping everyone at your organization safe within CDC guidelines can be difficult to tackle. A good workforce management software solution can help you avoid the legal ramifications of non-compliance. By acting as a centralized space where all your documentation can be stored, you’ll be able to retrieve the information you need quicker.  
  • Scheduling - this is a core feature that you’ll need in your workforce management software. Statistics show that over half of the workforce in the US are hourly workers. That is over 82 million people. Having a workforce management tool that can help you manage the big task of scheduling is important. However, you’ll want more than just a simple, basic scheduling tool. Look for one that helps you make the most of your employees’ skills and abilities. A good workforce management software solution will gather data so it can determine your organization’s needs and how to best meet them. Using automation, workforce management software will be able to identify staffing needs or gaps that you’ll need to fix. The scheduling feature also allows employees to collaborate in the process. Through the software, employees will be able to request days off, track their earned time off and even swap shifts with one another.  
  • Timekeeping - One of the most challenging tasks for HR is tracking employees’ work hours accurately. Statistics have found the practice of buddy punching costs $373 million each year.  That is why you’ll want to ensure that your workforce management software has a timekeeping feature. Using the timekeeping feature, employees will be able to clock in and out in the most accurate way. You’ll no longer have to guess if your employees’ hours are being tabulated accurately. Workforce management software timekeeping feature is one of the best ways to ensure you are tracking your employees’ work hours accurately.  
  • Leave Management - Workforce management software simplifies an application by employees for paid leave. From automating the application and approval process to ensuring the leave being applied for fits your organization’s leave policies. You’ll be able to get reports compiled from the data the software collects regarding leaves at your organization. Keeping track of who is available for work helps your workforce management software streamline the scheduling process.  
  • Task Management - Your software provides a centralized hub that allows you to assign and track the progress of tasks to your team. An added benefit of this feature is that it can identify employees who do not have the right training to complete a task. You can then respond to this information by getting the right training program for your employees so they can enhance their skill set.  
  • Data Collection - More than just simplifying the scheduling and day-to-day managing of your employees’ workloads, a workforce management software solution also collects valuable data and produces reports. This information can help your organization identify any areas that need some extra attention. These can include reports on timesheets, vacation planning, payroll reports, scheduling reports, and employee performance.  

Remember that workforce management software will only benefit your organization if it is used regularly to transform your processes. It will be more valuable as you begin to implement it into your day-to-day tasks. Once you have used the software for a while, you’ll be able to identify what you need to do to improve your customer service experience. 

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Best Workforce Management Software by Industry 

Workforce management software can be the ideal solution to help your organization effectively manage employees. These software options can help streamline the management process and improve productivity and efficiency. While there are several different solutions on the market, here are some of the best workforce management software options.  

  • Retail 
    • Branch Messenger - trusted by those in a number of different industries including retail, restaurant, hospitality, banking and airlines. One of the most attractive features of  Branch Messenger is its mobile app that employees can use to check their schedule or make changes.  
    • Quinyx - A software program that can be used on any device including a smartphone, laptop, tablet and even smartwatch. The workday is simplified by allowing employees to clock in and out using the mobile app. Managers are able to stay in regular contact with employees, which helps prevent a job from being overlooked or forgotten. Quinyx’s cloud-based platform is AI-driven and has the capability to forecast your future scheduling needs based on your organization’s past history. Gamification elements engage employees and feedback surveys and options allow your staff to let you know how things are running in your business.  
  • Call Centers 
    • Nice IEX - Scheduling is simplified with Nice IEX’s software solution for call centers. You’ll be able to make instant changes to employees’ schedules. Your workers will also be able to easily switch shifts, track their breaks and sign up for overtime shifts that you have open.  
    • Aspect - Getting the right number of call center employees is the aim of Aspect’s workforce management software tool. Their solution is scalable so it can adjust to the changing needs of your business. It is also designed to work in various work situations including with remote workers. Because it is a cloud-based solution, there is the option to upgrade your features at any time.  
  • Hospitality 
    • When I Work - A free piece of employee scheduling software that has been rated 4-and-a-half stars. When I Work’s software has also been awarded as being a category leader in its field. They use a scheduling template that allows you to see your tasks and qualified employees. Using the drag and drop tool, you are able to quickly build a schedule for your upcoming shifts. After the schedule is published and sent to all your employees, there is also a simple shift replacement feature. This allows you to notify qualified employees about a scheduling need you have. Your employees can then respond with the click of a button, helping you get the job done.  
    • BambooHR - Creating custom workflows is easy with BambooHR. Through their software, small businesses can easily get requests approved, simplify onboarding processes, request and obtain e-signatures and allow employees to edit their personal information. Employees can also use the software to track job-related details such as bonuses, benefits and more.  
  • Office 
    • ADP - A workforce management software tool that can fit into big and small businesses, ADP’s product is able to automate scheduling, time tracking, payroll, and compliance. Their software solution offers real-time analytics so you can stay up-to-date on your scheduling and overtime information.  
    • Oracle - For organizations of any size, Oracle has a workforce management software solution that automates tasks like time tracking and absences of employees. It is also able to anticipate your organization’s scheduling needs and offers a data privacy management feature.  
  • Best Workforce Management for COVID-19 
    • Cority Return to Work - A health screening solution that allows your employees an opportunity to fill in a pre-screening survey before they come into work. For any employees who are in quarantine, you’ll be able to track their health and wellbeing through the mobile app. It can notify you when they are ready to return to work. Moreover, the software solution can help you manage your schedule by tracking employee absences.

How to Select the Best Workforce Management Software? 

Having a workforce management software solution can benefit your organization and simplify processes that enhance employee engagement and improve productivity. You’ll be in a better position to identify inefficiencies in several areas including scheduling, employee leave and performance, and compliance with state and national regulations.  

The benefits of workforce management software are long-term. While you will see some improvements immediately, the longer you use your solution, the better it will become at improving your processes.  

However, because of the vast number of workforce management software solutions on the market, it is important to identify the best one for your organization. Here are some things to keep in mind while you shop for your workforce management solution.  

  • Navigating the New Normal (CDC Guidelines) - With the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC has had to adjust its guidelines for workplaces and other organizations. Staying on top of these regulations is key to running a safe workplace but it can be complicated. As the situation unfolds, the CDC will be updating and changing its requirements regularly. This is one of the key areas where having a workforce management software solution can be a tremendous help. Look for software that has been quick to respond to the changing needs of your organization due to COVID-19. As the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of work, you’ll need a workforce management solution that can simplify your compliance efforts. That includes making it clear what you need to do to keep your employees safe and meet the compliance of the CDC.  
  • Company Needs - Before you make a decision on the best workforce management software for your organization, find out what your company really needs from the solution. Talk to your HR leadership and determine what problems they hope the software will solve. Depending on their needs and expectations, you’ll want to find software that has features that will meet most, if not all, of those needs. For example, do you need to have a payroll feature as well as a scheduling one?  
  • Reporting - Data gathering and analysis is one of the most valuable features that software can offer. Computers are able to analyze data much faster than people can, which is why it makes sense to automate some tasks. However, you’ll want to be clear what data the software is collecting, how it collects the information and what it will be used for. Will the reports that it can produce be of value to your organization? Do the collection methods fit with your company? For example, if your workforce is mobile a biometric system will not work as it requires the employee to be at your site to check-in. Software that can analyze employee performance and absence can help you solve a lot of scheduling problems. While software that can create reports on employee benefits or leave data may not be as important to your company.
  • Subscription Cost - Workforce management software is an investment. But you don’t want it to break your budget. So, you’ll need to find a way to balance the benefits with the cost. Many organizations will be tempted to go with the lowest price but find that the solution does not fit their needs. This actually results in more money being spent over the long term to try and find the right workforce management software. Rather than focusing on the ticket price, look for the software that best matches your needs. Seek one that will be the most adept at integrating with your current systems. You should also invest in a solution that will be the most intuitive for your employees. A workforce management software solution that is too complicated will result in frustration and a reduction in productivity from your employees.
  • Customer Service - The level of service from your workforce management software developer can make or break the experience. Even if the software solution is simple and easy to use, you still may need some help and guidance setting it up. You may want some tutorials to learn about all its features or troubleshooting along the way. It is important to look for a software company that offers you top customer service in all these areas.  

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