Workforce Management

Our Operations Excellence team shares their Workforce Management expertise in The Burnie Group’s Knowledge Hub

Workforce Management

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What is Workforce Management (WFM)?

Workforce Management aims to achieve sustained improvement of key performance indicators through the use of data driven metrics, planning and people management. By optimizing the use of staff’s time and matching their skills to specific tasks, Workforce Management yields several benefits in operations including:

  • improved customer service
  • reduced costs
  • increased productivity
  • better utilization of resources
  • enhanced capacity alignment

Most importantly though, Workforce Management leads to more engaged and productive staff across the firm, from upper management to front line staff.

 

Key Components of WFM

The components of workforce management can be broken down into two categories: tools and behaviours.

Having the right tools can make all the difference in achieving your desired outcomes. In WFM, the primary tool is a solid data collection and analysis system.

While WFM practices should not be limited to software, it is important that this tool be able to support all WFM practices being implemented.

Some features to look for include:

  • Seamless data collection
  • In-depth analytics
  • Planning and forecasting features
  • Training tracking

While the adequate tools make for a good foundation, it is important to note that a large part of the results achieved through WFM programs are due to specific  behaviours that are implemented across a firm or department and help create a better workforce.

These behaviours are heavily related to one another and often depend on the data collected by WFM tools.

They include:

  • Daily huddles
  • Team work
  • Cross skilling & training
  • Capacity alignment
  • Planning/ forecasting

Looking for a state-of-the-art WFM solution for your Operations or Back-Office? Connect with us today

8 Challenges Workforce Management Solves

LOW PRODUCTIVITY In WFM addressing lagging productivity takes a two-fold approach. First, resources that are underutilized are reassigned to different production work. Second, tailored training and coaching improves staff motivation and skills, thereby creating a more productive workforce.
HIGH TURNOVER Turnover is often due to having an overworked or underworked workforce. WFM addresses this by planning capacity periodically and addressing excess capacity or shortages. This not only creates a more agile workforce, but also keeps employees motivated by allowing them to perform different tasks.
DISCONNECTED MANAGERS WFM allows staff to have more direct and indirect interactions with their managers through coaching, intra-day management and performance reporting, thereby allowing managers to become more aware of what is happening on the front lines, as well as communicating objectives effectively.
INCREASING COSTS While WFM does not specifically target cost reductions, it is often a welcome side effect. Diminishing turnover, enhancing staff skills, reducing capacity needs, improving planning and decreasing overtime all contribute to lowering costs, independently and through the synergies amongst them.
OVERWORKED/ UNDERWORKED STAFF (STAFF MOTIVATION) An important component of WFM is planning; short term planning and long range forecasting are both essential parts in managing a workforce. Planning allows an organization to have a better grasp of its capacity and reallocates staff on a needs basis rather than hiring externally as a response to short-term increases in volumes. Temporarily reallocating staff also allows staff to stay motivated by keeping them busy in low volume times.
DECLINING CUSTOMER SERVICE There are many reasons why customer service may be declining. Whether those declines are caused by longer response times (backlogs), undertrained staff, overworked employees or an unmotivated workforce, WFM allows organizations to address many of these causes at once.
INCREASING BACKLOGS Organizations will see their backlogs decrease by implementing better short term planning and long term forecasting. Not only should they have the proper resources to perform incoming work volumes, they will also be able to proactively address fluctuations using intra-day management tools.
OVERTIME WFM allows managers to plan their capacity ahead of time, and be proactive about higher work volumes rather than reactive, thereby reducing the reliance on overtime to complete work.

Where is Workforce Management typically applied?

WFM can be implemented across a wide range of functional groups, especially those with high staff numbers. Contact centres, back office and operations are some of the areas where WFM works best.

Workforce Management in Back Office

Back-office often faces challenges that are resolved in other areas. For example, Contact Centres historically had telephone solutions capturing all call information.

Back-office, on the contrary never had this infrastructure since many things are either manual and, sometimes, paper-based or completed using a variety of IT applications.

That’s where WFM solutions provide enormous help. They offer insights into all work completed, improve planning and intra-day management. Allow you to gain insight into workforce availability and productivity, and provides managers with the tools to prevent backlog from building up by engaging in proactive management, resulting in improved service levels.

Workforce Management in Operations

Operations are often characterized by a high number of transactions and, often, manual processes.

WFM equips operations leaders and managers with the data necessary to manage their organization and be able to plan both for the short and long-term.

WFM also offers managers insight into people’s capabilities enabling employee-tailored trainings.

This customized approach to training leads to more engaged employees, thereby reducing turnover and hiring/ training costs.

Workforce Management in Contact Centres

Contact centres operations are delicate in nature in that they involve:

  • Time sensitive work
  • Direct customer interaction

WFM helps call centres deliver a high quality of service in a timely manner by improving scheduling through forecasting and responding to fluctuations through intra-day management.

Often WFM solutions are fully integrated with telephony solutions.

Looking for a state-of-the-art WFM solution for your Operations or Back-Office? Connect with us today

Performance Management

Activity tracking allows organizations to accurately measure performance and make data-driven decisions such as:

  • Tailoring training plans
  • Reallocate capacity
  • Predict recruitment needs
  • Prevent burnout
  • Improve workforce planning
  • Set targets and track results

Workforce Agility

Workforce training is often limited to upskilling, but it is important to consider the benefits of cross-training staff. This allows maximal utilization of resources, drives employee engagement, and creates an agile workforce that can better serve customers.

Operations Intelligence

Developing operations intelligence allows an organization to identify and size process improvement opportunities. Workforce management allows managers to assess whether their current processes are the best way to meet their customer SLAs and prevent backlogs from building up.

Business Intelligence

Through workforce forecasting, organizations can gather valuable business intelligence. This translates to:

  • Better coordination of the labour mix
  • Reduction of reliance on overtime
  • Team right sizing
  • Annual planning of workload and resources

WFM across different industries

Most industries have benefitted from adopting WFM practices. These include:

INDUSTRY Front-line/Channels Back-office Operations Cross-Functions / Shared Services
WFM in Banking
  • Customer Contact Centre
  • Branch Operations
  • Digital customer interaction (e.g. chat, emails, etc)
  • Credit processing
  • Processing of account changes (e.g. limit change, address change)
  • Statements
  • Fraud management
  • Reporting
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Collections
  • HR functions (e.g. new employee onboarding, benefits processing)
WFM in Insurance
  • Sales and Service Contact Centre
  • Claims Contact Centre
  • Broker/Advisor support
  • Mail centre operations
  • Claims Management
  • Policy Administration (e.g. changes)
  • Underwriting
  • Insurance confirmations
  • Collection services
  • IT services
  • Reconciliations and financial analysis
  • Human Resources Management
WFM in Pension Administrations
  • Plan Administration Interaction
  • Plan Members interactions
  • Customer
  • Mail intake
  • Plan changes and maintenance
  • Setting up new plans
  • Plan member request processing
  • Plan migration
  • Tax reporting
  • Human Resources (e.g. benefits management, recruiting, onboarding)
  • Staff training

WFM in Institutional accounting

  • Client onboarding
  • Client interaction and onboarding
  • Client recon contacts
  • Corporate Actions Review
  • Reconciliations
  • Expenses assessment
  • Pricing an NAV calculation
  • Cash Reconciliation
  • Trading transaction management
  • Fund reporting
  • Risk Management
  • Finance and Accounting
  • IT management

WFM in Long-Term Care and Healthcare

  • Interaction with patients and their families
  • Family complaints
  • Daily rounds
  • Medication management
  • Quality report reviews
  • Treatment plans
  • Clinical programs
  • Ministry and other funding management
  • Reporting
  • Day-to-day staff management
  • New hires, onboarding, training
  • Engagement with authorities

Looking for a state-of-the-art WFM solution for your Operations or Back-Office? Connect with us today

6 Key Benefits of Workforce Management

Through planning and capacity alignment, Workforce Management provides several operational benefits:

  1. A freeze on recruitment is typically the first benefit an organization sees, as managers learn to better utilize their existing resources
  2. This, in addition to results and objectives being shared with the team, often leads to a productivity uplift
  3. Increased productivity leads to a backlog reduction and improved customer service levels
  4. Better management of the work to be done on a day to day basis then allows for less reliance on overtime
  5. Eventually, firms see a headcount reduction through natural attrition or redeployment of resources to other parts of the firm
  6. In addition, improved employee engagement is achieved via the introduction of tailored training and cross-skilling

In a matter of months, teams can expect to see a 10-20% release in capacity and a 15+% increase in productivity.

3 Common approaches to adopt WFM

There are three typical strategies for deploying WFM: internal program, outside consulting, and technology driven implementation. Each approach has its own benefits and downsides, depending on an organization’s objectives and resources.

1. Best practices program rollout via a specialized vendor

A number of vendors on the global stage have detailed programs that can quickly be implemented; specific players range from big consulting to specialized firms. While no two programs are exactly the same, most WFM programs share principles such as daily huddles, focused employee coaching, daily/weekly volume target setting, activity capturing, etc.

2. Internal Centre of Excellence (CoE)

Similar to how Lean and Six Sigma programs were brought in house in the past three decades, some large organizations choose to deploy an internal CoE focused on WFM practices. CoE resources tend to be specialists in capacity planning, employee engagement, and other related disciplines. Using a trainer approach, they go department by department throughout the organization to embed WFM best practices.

3. Technology-driven best practices

Some WFM technology platforms come with associated practices that organizations can simply adopt right out of the box. While not a full fledged program, these solutions can often deliver targeted and quick results. Organizations choosing this approach can look for different providers looking up “workforce management software”, “data capturing software”, process mapping tools”, etc.

Whether you have already started along the Workforce Management path, or you are just beginning your journey, The Burnie Group’s specialists can help your organization determine if WFM is for you, advise you on the best tools, create custom transformation programs, or help you transition from an existing approach.

Looking for a state-of-the-art WFM solution for your Operations or Back-Office? Connect with us today