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A Definition of Workforce Optimization

Workforce optimization (WFO) is a series of business strategies that focuses on improving employee efficiency. Companies implement these strategies by monitoring a specific position’s activity and then assigning the appropriate number of employees to meet the forecasted activity. Industries that most commonly adopt workforce optimization practices include retail, manufacturing, and financial services, although WFO originated in call centers.

Software companies offer workforce optimization solutions that integrate recording, quality management, and other technologies into a suite that also includes workforce management, quality monitoring, liability recording, coaching, and eLearning, performance management, and surveying and speech analytics tools. These solutions originally were designed for call and contact centers, but companies in a range of industries use them today to increase efficiency and streamline operations. What is workforce optimization?

Workforce Optimization Best Practices

To be effective, you’ll need to follow a few important best practices. Managers, employees, and stakeholders should be involved in making various decisions regarding WFO. When stakeholders and leaders are onboard with the initiative, buy-in becomes less of an issue and employees understand the common goals of the company. If compliance is a concern, the company should deploy tools to help drive results, improve transparency across the organization, and support the overall effort.

At the heart of effective WFO are scheduling and task assignments. Companies should implement a scheduling solution that assists in assigning specific tasks to specific individuals with a given timeframe. Indeed, the most important piece involves assigning tasks and matching skills to those tasks to ensure workers can complete their job as quickly and efficiently as possible. Human resource managers must use careful consideration to match skilled people to available positions because incorrect work assignments can result in understaffing, underqualification, overqualification, and high turnover of poorly matched workers.

Workforce Optimization Strategies and Techniques

When companies look to improve workforce optimization, there are many strategies to consider. Among the most effective strategies are:

  • Implement time and attendance software – Automating time and attendance with software eliminates the wasted time and errors associated with manual time cards. Automating time and attendance also speeds up clock-in and clock-out processes and simplifies time card tracking and data entry.
  • Monitor performance analytics – Workforce analytics tools deliver insights into your workforce’s effectiveness, performance, and productivity. WFO tools provide performance-based insights to help companies determine which processes work and which ones should be improved.
  • Improve communications between managers and employees – One way to improve communication between managers and employees is to use technology. Managers who use technology that simplifies and automates managerial processes such as creating schedules and handling time cards are free to get among their employees and communicate directly with them. 

To truly optimize your workforce, companies employ a software solution that enables them to track performance across their entire organization including suppliers, talent, and quality. When you leverage this data, your HR people and workforce planners will have the insights needed to take action regarding underperforming staffing suppliers. The metrics gained from WFO solutions also help companies establish thresholds for candidates’ skill sets. Gaining visibility into the performance of your workforce will help your company reduce operational friction and meet or even exceed productivity targets.

Benefits of Workforce Optimization

Workforce optimization has several advantages; most notably, the benefits aren’t merely for the employer, but also for its staff. WFO provides insights that enable employers to provide the tools, training, and support employees need to achieve goals and exceed expectations. This, in turn, boosts your company’s reputation. When your business becomes known as a company that values and empowers its workforce – a “Great Place to Work,” for example – it’s easier to attract top talent when it’s time to expand your team.

Other benefits include:

  • Improved customer service
  • Increased visibility
  • Increased customer retention
  • Reduced compliance risks
  • Increased employee productivity and efficiency
  • More cost-effective operations

Companies that employ workforce optimization best practices, strategies, and solutions find that they reduce operating expenses, save time and money with automated processes, improve communication, gain actionable insights, and increase productivity and performance.