In the post-pandemic era, work culture is changing, and businesses are evolving. It might seem that little is under control, but some core processes vital to business operations can still be managed. The workforce is at the center of the changes that COVID-19 put into perspective.
People are looking for better work-life balance, resignations are at an all-time high, and there is an increasing need for workforce optimization. Workforce Optimization (WFO) is what “work smarter, not harder” implies. It is about enabling employees to work at their best by streamlining various business operation processes.
In this post, we will explore workforce optimization and strategies and techniques you can use to increase productivity with the same workforce.
What is Workforce Optimization?
According to Wikipedia, “Workforce optimization (WFO) is a business strategy that integrates business performance considerations with workforce management. The strategy involves automating processes, data visibility, compliance on legislation, and solving business problems related to staffing.”
In simple terms, workforce optimization is a strategic management practice aiming to improve a company’s employees’ efficiency, performance, and productivity. Here, the ultimate goal is to streamline every possible process to create an environment for optimizing the existing workforce and achieving overall organizational success.
Industries can benefit from effective workforce optimization strategies and it is a common practice in the IT and Human Resource sectors. Today, retail, manufacturing, and financial services utilize workforce optimization techniques to improve productivity and revenues.
Here the common approach is to monitor a specific position’s activity to anticipate the number of employees required to meet the forecasted requirement. However, you must not confuse WFO with Lean Six Sigma, Agile, or other optimization methodologies that organizations use to make processes and people more productive.
Instead, WFO combines most of these methodologies with a unique approach to streamline the workforce for boosted productivity. Software companies offer WFO in their products to help industries with workforce management through quality monitoring, eLearning, liability recording, surveying, coaching, and performance management.
You can use workforce optimization to streamline many business operations, including automation, legislation compliance, customer service, and solving business problems.
What are the benefits of workforce optimization?
Workforce optimization allows companies to get the most out of the talent available and adds agility and cost efficiency needed to succeed.
Let’s check out some significant benefits of implementing workforce optimization strategies in your company.
1. Increased efficiency and productivity
Optimizing the workforce to keep its productivity and efficiency high is essential. With workforce optimization, you can engage talent and encourage them to deliver increased output. Through analytics and insights, you can track the performance of individual workers and prioritize ways to help them improve daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.
With a streamlined work environment, straightforward onboarding process, and positive work environment, employees can perform at their best without feeling burnout. It also encourages employees to contribute to company goals with their self-motivated efforts.
2. Staff management to reduce costs and improve savings
Proper staffing is necessary to ensure that the required number of employees is always available on the floor. That being said, it does not imply that you overstaff. Both overstaffing and understaffing can be the cause of loss for a business.
Work optimization offers many cost savings opportunities. The most important benefits include:
- Flexibility in hiring the right talent can help you lower the overall payroll costs and reduce the time spent on recruiting activities. Workforce optimization can help companies discover the requirements for a position and match it against available talent.
- With WFO, you can significantly reduce the risk of worker misclassification, avoiding costly lawsuits, fines, and penalties. It is essential if your company operates in multiple markets with varying employee laws.
- It also creates opportunities to provide better customer service as a company can offer the best customer service with the optimal number of employees. It also creates opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling.
- Workforce optimization techniques also automate many business processes and offer real-time guidance and actionable insights. This data helps create more revenue opportunities.
3. Improved customer service and retention
As mentioned above, when you have optimized the workforce with the correct number of staff, you can offer excellent customer service. It enables companies to resolve customer queries efficiently and faster. This is how WFO helps provide a good customer experience.
WFO solutions allow companies to analyze their communications with customers to understand the root cause of their behavior. It helps them to frame strategies that retain customers in the long run. When you know your customers and their behavior, you can act faster to service their needs.
When you respond to customers’ complaints faster and offer them improved satisfaction, they are most likely to return.
Now that you understand how beneficial it can be to optimize the workforce let’s discuss some critical workforce optimization strategies to implement at your workplace.
5 Workforce optimization strategies
The strategies we picked are tested to be effective in any work environment. Whether your company is in IT or manufacturing, you can trust these techniques for a more streamlined workforce.
1. Scheduling employees efficiently
For the success of any organization, it is essential to schedule employees efficiently. Companies rely on manual workforce scheduling, which is time-consuming, prone to errors, and too tedious for HR. Software solutions like Truein provide a highly cohesive and efficient time and attendance management system for companies that can be used for scheduling employees efficiently.
When a company increases operations like production and manufacturing, the staff gets busy. It makes it challenging to manage a workforce. Overtime can be expensive, and so can be regular absenteeism. You can be left with stalled production or too much workforce without proper scheduling.
Scheduling employees is one of the most impactful workforce optimization strategies to ensure that enough employees are available on the floor during every shift. It will also ensure that workload is distributed optimally.
Truein face recognition attendance system can help schedule employees for manufacturing, supply chain, warehouse, and retail companies. Our technology is cloud-based and uses AI to manage staff timing to keep HR managers informed of the workforce attendance in real-time.
Managers and supervisors can use the Truein dashboard to assign tasks, manage leaves, and create or update shifts.
2. Time management and attendance tracking
For a company, time is of the essence. It is the most valuable asset to manage as it cannot be replaced or regained. All tasks and business operations must be completed on time. Managers and supervisors must know what’s going on and where the employees are at a given time. Again, there are many ways to achieve this.
Modern attendance software applications can track time and attendance most accurately. Truein is one such attendance system that companies across industries can use for their time management needs. If you are facing a tough time deciding if you need an attendance system for workforce optimization, then ask yourself these questions:
- Are your employees regular with attendance?
- Are there measures to prevent malpractices like buddy punching and time theft?
- How easy and fast is taking time and attendance management decisions like attendance regularization?
Think of the more incredible picture here. With a time and attendance management system like Truein, HR managers can look at the scheduling numbers for the entire workforce. It enables them to use analytics to ensure all shifts are adequately staffed, and employees are allotted tasks proportionately.
3. Monitor performance and Task completion
The above two workforce optimization strategies help ensure that scheduling and time tracking is in place, but making employees punctual is not enough; you also have to optimize how they use their time during the shift.
You can use task tracking tools like Salesforce, Asana, Trello, and Jira. This software as a service (SaaS) solution helps improve employee productivity by tracking their progress. Depending on your business requirements, you can pick a real-time task tracking tool to monitor performance to keep managers informed of a worker’s performance at work.
Monitoring the performance of the workforce is essential, but it must not feel too invasive as it can stress employees. Task tracking tools are low-stress solutions to gauge the performance of the force. Managers can control an employee’s performance as they have access to insights like how they spend their time at work, whether they take longer than anticipated to complete tasks, and whether they are meeting their day-to-day responsibilities.
This workforce optimization technique can help HR managers determine if someone is struggling at their job or if an employee performs better than their peers. It is an incredible improvement over old-school Excel spreadsheets for tracking workforce performance.
4. Improve communications between managers and employees
Effective communication between employees and managers is required for workplace success. It should not only be limited to just the job requirement and assignments. Genuinely productive and collaborative teams also communicate about improving the job’s success.
For workforce optimization, it is essential to create open channels of employee-manager communication to help understand the company’s direction, goals, visions, and values. It will help them identify their work responsibilities to add value to the company.
Implementing tools like Trello and Jira add value to the employee-manager communication. With such workforce optimization practices, managers can measure an employee’s performance and productivity and take measures to help them overcome challenges and improve.
Practical WFO tools help break down employees’ strengths and weaknesses such that they can be prioritized as per the assignments. Ultimately, these tools allow HR managers to measure the outputs of the workforce and successfully increase productivity.
This is not even the best part of improving employee-manager communication. More importantly, it helps managers and workers know the status of a project and eliminates the need to track down the level of individual contributions.
5. Adopt Cost-Effective Operations
Cutting costs doesn’t mean implementing cheaper solutions but instead identifying the sources of wasteful spending and processes that do not align with the company’s goals.
When you create solutions to implement cost-effective operations, you make it possible to reallocate resources and streamline processes necessary for the business, such as customer satisfaction and retention. It will eventually improve revenues.
How do you make operations cost-effective?
Dissect the customer feedback data to understand how their experience can be improved. Pay attention to what’s working but analyzing what’s not working is equally important. Do not stick to customer service because of the status quo. Ditch old habits if they are not working anymore.
Workforce optimization is about being honest while looking inward and making tough decisions to deliver results. If you find instances where workers aren’t meeting all of their numbers, it’s time to make some serious adjustments.
Workforce optimization is multiple factors working together to boost the company’s productivity and help employees perform at their best. It is not an overnight task, but successful workforce optimization requires time to work out processes and systems that will serve the purpose in the long run.
The objective is to streamline operations and model a sleeker workforce that will save much money and other resources. We hope this guide will serve as the right resource to initiate work optimization strategies in your company to cut costs and improve efficiency.