Workforce management: how to optimize team productivity

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Need help improving team productivity and overall performance? While it’s not an easy task, workforce management can help streamline your team’s workflow and operational costs. That means enhanced efficiency, better employee engagement, and higher team morale. 

From what’s included in a workforce management process to the benefits that come from using workforce management software, we’ll detail how to effectively implement a strategy of your own. 

What is workforce management?

Workforce management (WFM) is a technique used to increase the productivity and efficiency of teams. While most frequently used in call centers, many departments have adopted this method in order to improve their current processes. This is especially important considering that nearly 70% of workers feel they’d be better equipped to hit targets if they had clear processes to manage work in place.

What is workforce management?

Workforce management involves all activities needed to maintain a productive workforce. This method is made up of a variety of workforce techniques including human resource management, human capital management, performance management, data collection, budgeting and forecasting, and more. While a project manager can’t necessarily manage all of these tasks, it’s helpful to ensure key initiatives are running smoothly by partnering with department leaders and collecting team feedback. 

Since there is some overlap between workforce management and human resource management tasks, let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two. 

What’s included in a workforce management system?

As you can see, there are numerous parts that make up a workforce management process. From hiring employees to training teams and scheduling, it takes many moving parts to create a full process.

What's included in a workforce management system?

It’s also important to note that workforce management tasks often closely resemble those of human capital management (HCM), which is a framework of recruiting, managing, and developing employees’ value. The main difference between the two is that HCM aims to maximize ROI while WFM aims to maximize employee performance and productivity. 

Let’s take a look at each of these tasks and how they work to create a workforce management solution that you can implement for your team. 

Time tracking

Time tracking may seem simple enough, but there’s more to it than you may think. Not only is tracking time good for analyzing efficiency, but it’s also helpful in order to identify patterns. 

Implementing a time tracking process ensures that you:

Effective time tracking can also help you improve your time management skills and create an overall productive daily routine. The best way to do this is by using work management software like Asana. With effective tools and good time management best practices, each team member has the autonomy and flexibility to manage their own time and get their best work done. 

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Forecasting and scheduling

In addition to time tracking, it’s also important to properly forecast and schedule staffing needs to create a successful workforce management process that offers work-life balance. Whether you have multiple staffing levels within your organization, such as executives and middle managers, or manage a team at the same level, scheduling can be complex. 

For that reason, many teams turn to artificial intelligence (AI) to help automate scheduling. Analyzing historical data can also help you forecast future outcomes. 

Scheduling responsibilities include:

  • Managing staff scheduling

  • Resolving overstaffing or understaffing issues

  • Forecasting for team growth

With the right number of team members and a plan for staffing growth, you can properly manage your team’s workload and prevent burnout.   

Team performance

While performance reviews can be time consuming, they are important for measuring team performance, productivity, and overall happiness. They can also be valuable for measuring customer satisfaction based on team member performance.

Managing team performance involves:

  • Tracking employee experience

  • Measuring employee productivity

  • Gauging customer satisfaction

Every team has a different way of managing team performance, though conducting quarterly reviews is one popular way to achieve these results.  

Payroll and benefits

Whether you have a dedicated team for payroll and benefits or not, it’s another important part of a larger workforce management plan. This includes day-to-day pay and benefits, but it can also include any additional incentives you offer your employees. 

There are a lot of tasks that stem from payroll, including:

  • Analyzing labor costs

  • Paid time off (PTO) tracking

  • Tracking timesheets

  • Offering employee incentives

Beyond the mere need to process paychecks, improvement to payroll and benefits can be a great way to enhance employee performance and morale. 

Training management

Creating a training program for new and existing employees is critical for building a successful workforce. Not only should training materials be created for onboarding new members, but you should also provide materials for continued growth and development. 

Training materials could include:

  • Onboarding materials

  • Tool management support

  • Industry news

  • External educational resources 

When building a training program, it’s important to organize documents and materials in a shared space where all team members can easily find information. This can be done using a digital tool or even a shared folder. 

Free employee onboarding template

Workforce management benefits

From increased productivity to improved morale, implementing a robust workforce management process can help your team feel empowered to make an impact.

In a perfect world where all parts of a successful workforce management process are in place, you’d see a positive impact on a wide range of tasks and departments. Here are some of the top workforce management benefits. 

Workforce management benefits

1. Increased productivity  

Productivity is at its highest when work is delegated and communicated correctly. By forecasting workload, tracking time, paying fairly, and communicating performance, workforce management can help team productivity flourish. 

With increased productivity, your team will not only see an improvement in the amount of work being created but also in the quality of work. This is a win-win for both organizations and individual team members. 

2. Effective communication

One foolproof way to succeed is by learning from past mistakes. When communication in the workplace is open and honest with team performance, individuals can thrive for the good of the group. 

Not only will effective communication help improve team collaboration, but it can also help work stay on track and meet quality standards. 

Read: 100+ teamwork quotes to motivate and inspire collaboration

3. Improved morale

Team morale can be affected by a number of variables—both negatively and positively. Whether that’s due to workload, pay and benefits, scheduling, or all of these factors, morale can make or break a productive team. 

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to improve morale with the help of a workforce management plan. Both curiosity and empathy can create an engaging dynamic between managers and team members. These simple, yet powerful, attributes can help improve the overall working environment for your team and contribute to high morale. 

4. Resource maximization

With increased productivity and improved communication and tracking, you’ll be able to maximize resource utilization. Not only will this increase the amount of work you’re able to create, but it will also lower labor costs.

Resources can be anything from a tangible product to something intangible like time—both of which are invaluable and shouldn’t be wasted. 

Read: If you love maximizing team impact, you’ll love resource allocation

5. Quality work

In the end, the quality you put out results in what you get back. So if your quality isn’t up to par, you won’t see a significant revenue stream. That’s why improving quality is such an important part of workforce management.

Whether you believe the quality of your work is the best it can be or not, there is always room for improvement. Process optimizations could be anything from product changes to website development and beyond. The possibilities are truly limitless. 

Workforce management vs. human resource management

While human resource management (HRM) is a part of workforce management, the two techniques offer different results. 

On its own, human resource management is the process of employing team members, training them, and developing internal processes. While an important part of workforce management, the two are different.

It’s helpful to think of workforce management as the umbrella term for all workforce needs. So while hiring the right people is part of that process, workforce management includes improving employee performance, managing payroll, forecasting work, and more. 

Workforce management tools

With so many different parts of a workforce management system, you may be wondering how to get started with a plan of your own. Luckily, there are workforce management tools to help you create your own process.

Workforce management tools

Using WFM software can help with a variety of different tasks, including time management, team communication, resource management, customer experience, and scheduling. 

Timeline planning

There are various ways to go about tracking time, some of which help connect daily work to goals. This is important for creating cross-departmental visibility and keeping objectives top of mind. Here are some other features of timeline software:

  • See tasks and deadlines

  • Create dependencies

  • Easily modify plans

  • Turn spreadsheets into timelines 

Not only can timeline software help connect work to goals, but it can also be a great visual representation of how your team is pacing. 

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Productivity tracking

Productivity is one of the key benefits of workforce management, but you first have to ensure you have tools in place to help it thrive. Here are some tasks that productivity software can assist with:

  • Prevent duplicate work

  • Make information easy to find

  • Automate recurring projects

  • Keep work in one place

Whether you need help automating work or quickly prioritizing tasks, productivity tools can make managing these efforts a breeze.

Increase your productivity with Asana

Team communication

Many teams are unaware of just how important communication is—and effective communication at that. In fact, only 15% of employees feel completely heard by their organization. That makes it more important than ever to communicate not just about work, but about performance and feedback in general. 

Communication software can help:

  • Teams do better work

  • Employees feel heard

  • Keep communication in one place

  • Give feedback in context

  • Run better meetings

By implementing communication tools, you can ensure better processes and employee experience.  

Try team communication with Asana for free

Will workforce management work for you?

A WFM system is a set of techniques to help improve internal processes, create automation where possible, and create a more enjoyable place to work. It’s not every day you find each of these in an organization, but with a little help, you can ensure your organization checks these boxes and more.

If you’re looking for more ways to improve your team, learn about resource management and how it can help.

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