The essence of workforce optimization is captured in the phrase “work smarter, but not harder”. How can the workforce adapt to rising customer expectations for excellence, service delivery and satisfaction? It is not possible to always hire more people as this will only increase your operational expenses. Instead, you should strive to improve productivity with the same workforce. This is where workforce optimization comes into play.
With hybrid and remote working becoming more common, organizations face challenges in deciding on the most efficient operating model to maximize productivity and reduce burnout. Workforce optimization allows organizations to not only run efficiently but also provide exceptional customer service. Let’s take a look at workforce optimization definitions, examples, benefits, and software.
What is workforce optimization?
Workforce optimization (WFO) is a collection of strategies and practices that aim to increase employee productivity and reduce operational costs by using data. The ultimate goal is an organizational success. WFO covers every aspect of an organization, including marketing and finance. To maximize the effectiveness of every employee and department, WFO aims to streamline processes. Formula One (F1) is an example of this. All teams use the same cars and setup. Teams that can optimize the cars, mechanics, engineers, and other departments in order to win are usually the ones that come out on top.
WFO can be fully implemented and reduce costs, increase operational efficiency, and productivity, maximize technology investments, improve customer service, enable process automation, reduce error, and provide deep-dive insight into all aspects of an organization.
WFO is widely used in call centers, retail and the manufacturing logistics sector. It has gained popularity and utility in many other industries, and across all types of jobs.
WFO is an integral part of data analysis. Some of the data collected include:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS).
- Operational expenses
- Scores of customer satisfaction
- Employee performance data
- Employee work schedules.
These massive amounts of data are analyzed and collected, which is why technology plays such a vital role in workforce optimization. WFO software and technology combine analytics, quality control, call recording and coaching to optimize workforce processes.
Also read: What is Marketing Optimization and Why it’s Important
Workforce optimization examples
Here are some examples of WFO in practice:
This software tracks attendance and performance data to create an employee schedule. You can manage burnout and overtime, as well as analyze whether you should hire more staff. This is also important for temp workers since the workflow can affect workload.
For example, During peak periods like Christmas when sales are high you might need to hire a new workforce system, hire temp staff and new employees, depending upon various factors. This depends on many factors. This is a concern for many retail, supply chain, and warehouse organizations.
Attendance software or time-tracking software lets you see what’s happening at all times. This software can answer questions like whether employees check in late or early. Or whether there are “false clock-ins” – employees who clock in for friends. It is not intended to be a punishment. It allows organizations to review their scheduling and make sure they are covered at all times. This includes all geographies, peak hours, and public holidays/weekends.
Ingenico used WFO to reduce overtime costs by 25%, decrease time spent on resourcing, and 87% more efficiently all while maintaining the same level of service.
Also read: Top 10 Ways to Improve Work Performance
WFO can also be used to improve employee performance by performing performance management. You can help them be the best possible at what they do. A task-tracking platform like Asana or Trello can be a useful tool for tracking and aiding performance. These tools enable employees to cut through the noise and focus on important tasks. It helps you manage your tasks. It helps to shift work in the best and most efficient direction.
Benefits of workforce optimization
- Increased efficiency, and productivity – A constant number of employees. An organization can see a complete picture of employee attendance and time spent. They can then manage customer demand effectively. WFO allows organizations to determine if they have to hire temporary staff during peak season or introduce technology to help them meet the new work demand.
- Reduced costs and increased savings – Avoiding both understaffing and overstaffing can help you avoid poor customer service. It not only lowers costs but also opens up opportunities for cross-selling or up-selling. WFO, which introduces automation to the business, provides real-time guidance as well as actionable insights to help identify revenue opportunities.
- Customer service and retention improved – Customers receive help and get their questions answered quickly and efficiently. This results in a positive customer experience. WFO allows you to analyze customer communication and identify the root causes of customer behavior. It also allows you to create strategies to retain customers.WFO software gives organizations deeper insight into customer behavior and how they can serve their customers. This software allows organizations to respond faster to customer complaints, improve customer satisfaction and act quicker. Happy customers are more likely to return.
- New opportunities – WFO creates internal movement through the development of new products and opportunities. This allows employees to perform at their best, increasing the chances of horizontal or vertical movement within the company. Customer satisfaction will increase as employee satisfaction rises.
What is workforce optimization software?
workforce optimization software would be of great benefit to larger companies. It would be impossible to analyze and make improvements manually. WFO software is a solution that optimizes workplace productivity in many ways. For example, It can analyze business needs such as peak periods, available employees, peak periods, availability, budget, skills, labor law, and contractual agreements. It can then analyze, plan, forecast, optimize, and optimize the workforce.
There are many WFO software providers. They should be:
- A good user interface is essential – Real-time decisions are taken and complicated interfaces can only make things more difficult. It should be modern and attractive, with real-time updates.
- Scalable – It is crucial that the workforce optimization solution can scale across an organization in different departments and types of work.
- Integrations – This is the most important aspect. It should be specific to the systems used by an organization and integrate with other popular HR apps (e.g. SAP, Sage, BambooHR etc. ).
Value WFO software is often expensive. When choosing one, make sure it has all the controls and perks you need (e.g. good customer service, mobile apps, new versions, etc.).
- Value – WFO software includes Kronos Workforce Management, SAP Workforce Management, and Monet Live WFO. There are many others on the market, including BambooHR and Oracle Workforce Management.
Workforce optimization strategies
You must invest in your employees as well as in technology to implement workforce optimization at work. Let’s look at some best practices and strategies for workforce optimization.
Adopt a customer-centric perspective
Optimizing your workforce is about providing the best customer service possible in the most efficient manner. Although you may have to pay less for employees working on a shift, this could mean that your customer service is affected. Ask yourself: How will this affect my customers? You should also consider external data.
According to Gartner, there will be a 41% decrease in phone-based customer interactions. This means that other communication channels such as instant messaging or web chat will likely increase, which is a strong indicator of where an organization should be moving.
Give your employees the resources and tools they need to succeed
This empowers workers to perform their jobs effectively and efficiently. Think knowledge banks, gaming tools, and so on. If an organization anticipates a rise in instant messaging customer queries, they need to provide training for customer service agents. You can also provide training to customers if your company is launching a new product.
Find the right skills for the job and task
Certain skills are more useful than others for certain tasks. You need to know what tasks your employees need and the skills they have, so you can use tools such as skills inventory or skill taxonomy to get a clear picture of each.
Employee engagement is also increased when workers are able to use their skills.
Use a scheduling tool
Overtime costs and burnout are essential to avoid inefficiency. With employee time, organizations can manage customer demand. Wrike and Monday.com are two of the most popular scheduling tools.
Also read: Workflow Automation: What It Is, Types And Software
WFO allows you to extract insights and data, and so establish performance goals and standards. This allows organizations to set reasonable expectations for their employees. If, for example, an analysis shows that a contact center can handle seven customer calls per hour, then this should be the standard. However, you should consider other factors such as difficult customers, lunch breaks and the number of employees. Therefore, your approach should be flexible.
Many organizations prepare their annual schedules well in advance. This can sometimes overlook unexpected events or occurrences (e.g. the COVID-19 pandemic). It is important to maintain an annual overview, but be flexible and plan in short bursts to increase the likelihood of a precise schedule. This flexibility allows WFO to make the most of its real-time data.
Your WFO strategies and practices should be reviewed regularly. Customers and products change frequently, so organizations should review their WFO strategies and practices. An organization’s ability to keep up with what’s happening with its customer base, as well as the efficiency of its workforce, will be confirmed by a monthly, quarterly, or annual review.
A training and development plan should be in place
Without a comprehensive training plan, no WFO can be completed. There will always be skills gaps you have to fill. You can hire people to fill these gaps, but this is very expensive. Another option is to teach employees the skills they lack. Employees should be able to do more with less, and this is possible through training in new tools and methods of working.
Workforce optimization can bring many benefits to different business types if it is done correctly. Technology is key to optimizing your workforce. WFO is not something that can be done in a matter of hours. It’s a slow process that will continue to improve as new technologies and systems are developed.