Essential terms used by HR and their meanings.

Workforce management

Workforce management (WFM) is a combination of processes that allow an organisation to have the right employees, in the right roles, in the right place, at the right time. This is done to ensure that an organisation can operate efficiently while delivering a high level of employee productivity.

Workforce Management Processes

  • Forecasting and budgeting – This is the process of understanding the number and type of employee resources needed for a specific project or location over a specific time period (often a year). Once the forecasting is completed, budgeting for the cost of these employees can be undertaken, so that volumes can be optimised and balanced.

  • Staffing schedules – This significant aspect of WFM allows organisations to collate data on several scheduling variables – leave, absence, workload, availability – and ensure the required volume of employees is accessible in reality. Previously a highly manual process, increasingly automation and AI are used to support staff scheduling.

  • Time and attendance – Tracking attendance patterns allows organisations to pre-emptively address potential shortfalls in employee availability due to changes in demand or unplanned leave/absence. Time and attendance data is a key information source to identify chronic absence and identify potential employee wellbeing issues.

  • Leave planning – The management of time-off requests and approvals is important for heat-mapping potential areas of resource scarcity and for ensure employees are taking sufficient time off to avoid burnout. Using digital tools to track leave balances, paid time off (PTO), absences, time-off calendars, schedule conflicts and flexible working time banked for future use, allows organisations to adapt and anticipate peaks in leave demand.

  • Employee performance management – Monitoring employee engagement and productivity levels helps employers understand what is driving best performance and reward those delivering above expectations.

  • Payroll and benefits administration – The administration of payroll is one of the most important processes for any business with an employee base. Payroll must ensure timesheets are synched efficiently, absences pay is applied correctly, queries are handled quickly and that an essential level of accuracy in calculating salary is maintained. Reporting and auditing is also required continuously as this will inform financial planning for the organisation. In larger organisations this will be supported with extremely robust automation to guarantee these processes are effective.

  • Compliance – One of the most complicated elements of WFM is tracking compliance. For a large geographically spread workforce, adherence to appropriate legislation is essential in order to avoid potentially costly fines and lawsuits. Monitoring required certifications and training for specific roles, missed breaks, labour standards, family/sick leave requirements and union agreements all fall under the heading of compliance.

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Workforce Management Solutions

There are numerous software platforms available that support one or all the core workforce management processes. The implementation of a workforce management tech stack should be carefully planned and consultation with internal stakeholders and users should be undertaken to ensure the full set of requirements is fully understood. Research of potential suppliers should be undertaken to assess the pros and cons of a single platform versus several independent tools, because this is an area where one-size is unlikely to fit all.

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