How Workforce Management Accelerates Productivity and Profitability

workforce management accelerates productivity and profitability
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Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

Every business owner knows there is a direct connection between productivity and profitability. Because of this, they strive to optimize every department and process. Constant innovation is more important than ever.

Interestingly, some business owners don’t view workforce management (WFM) as an area that can yield greater productivity. This disconnect prevents many from implementing workforce management solutions.

Other business owners believe the ROI of workforce management software wouldn’t make up for the cost of the system. Are you one of those business owners? If so, you are missing out. Big time.

Labor Force Productivity Gains Give You More Bang for the Buck

For most companies, labor is the greatest expense. As such, even modest productivity gains in workforce management save money. Reducing labor expenses directly increases profitability.

Let’s discuss the specific ways workforce management tools increase productivity. First, let’s turn our attention to the Human Resources department.

Workforce Management Software Makes Admin Staff More Productive

It makes sense to start with Human Resources. Workforce management is what HR is all about. They handle recruitment, hiring, onboarding, payroll, and benefits enrollment. In some companies, they administer training, performance reviews, and engagement programs. Even after an employee is no longer with the company, they have ongoing benefits and retirement tasks.

Manual Processes Limit Productivity

WFM software benefits the HR department by automating manual processes. This saves so much time it can transform admin workflows. For example, automatic time tracking eliminates paper time cards. When the time and attendance system integrates with payroll, you can import data. No one has to do manual data entry.

A California resort that implemented WFM reduced payroll processing time from hours to minutes. In the process, the company saves thousands of dollars every year. Needless to say, the employees don’t miss the hassle, tedium, and inaccuracy of the manual system in place before automation.

Onboarding Simplified

Workforce management tools for onboarding guide new hires through the involved process. New hires can access and complete the seemingly endless forms online. Benefits enrollment tools end the need for an HR employee to explain plan benefits. If a new hire is slow to complete the forms, the system will send alerts until they complete the paperwork. Then the system will notify the HR team that the employee has completed the process and all electronic signatures are in place.

WFM Provides Significant Time Savings

A workforce management provider helped a large charter school automate processes. Before the implementation, it took two and a half days for a team to create a single month-end report. Now, one person can create the same report in just a couple of minutes.

The productivity gains we’re talking about are significant, especially for SMEs who have limited resources and a lot of work to get done.” —Cameron Lundgren, Payroll Experts.

Accuracy Drives Productivity

Automated WFM is also more accurate. Payroll accuracy brings further productivity gains. Entering employee hours by hand isn’t as accurate as automation. A mistake triggers a series of corrective actions. These take time for everyone involved. There is also the opportunity cost of what could they could do during this time. When an employee discovers a payroll error, they leave their primary duty to contact HR. The HR point person has to research and correct the error. They may need to recalculate vacation or sick time for the employee. It may have to update records maintained for compliance. The payroll manager then cuts a new check.

Workforce Management Data: A Productivity Goldmine

Workforce management solutions provide analytics for Human Resources processes. Analytics reveal the big picture. They aggregate the productivity gains of optimized day-to-day HR activities.

It’s unfortunate that some business owners with WFM software fail to take advantage of analytics. Automated timekeeping and scheduling boost productivity—but the results are amplified when guided by analytics. Data-driven strategies for continual operational improvement gives small businesses the ability to compete with larger companies.

Requiring every program in HR to shift to a data-driven decision model will simultaneously improve the accuracy and the speed of all people management decisions.” —Dr. John Sullivan, Talent Management Expert

Integration and Productivity

Integrated WFM tools prevent productivity losses due to separate systems or manual processes. Consider the time wasted transferring employee hours into a non-integrated payroll system. Or consulting paper time cards or spreadsheets to calculate PTO.

Growing Companies Save Money With Automated WFM

A growing company with automated workforce management saves money as they grow. They won’t need to hire as many HR specialists as the workforce expands. This saves the company money on recruitment costs and employee wages. These savings compound with time.

Consider a real-world example of efficiency gains and cost savings. When a Texas company with 300 employees and multiple locations automated workforce management, they saved $250,000 a year. The two full-time payroll employees reduced more than two days of work to just 30-60 minutes every payroll period by not having to call each location, follow up with managers and employees for time sheets, and enter information manually.

Workforce Management Solutions Help Managers Be More Productive

Managers love well-designed workforce management software. The systems handle the tedious processes. They allow the managers to spend time optimizing other processes in their departments.

Scheduling Reinvented

Managers have the relentless task of creating schedules. Regardless of the size of the department, scheduling takes time. Even managers who use spreadsheets could save time creating schedules with WFM solutions. Managers who are still using paper are shooting themselves in the efficiency foot.

Prior to using an automated scheduling tool, it took a Canadian non-profit one to two months to create a 42-month rolling schedule. With WFM, they can now build a schedule for the entire year in less than one hour.

Schedules are multi-dimensional. At the minimum, there are shifts and employees. Plus locations, teams, qualifications, job costing, and compliance. Automated scheduling tools excel at complex processes. Supervisors customize them with employee profiles, shift rules, hours thresholds, and conflict alerts.

Paper Time Cards Kill Productivity

Managers spend unnecessary time approving time cards. When an employee forgets to fill one out, the manager spends more time tracking down the employee to complete it. When the manager can’t decipher the writing, the manager has to investigate.

Automated time and attendance systems track time and create digital time cards. The link to physical or digital time clocks. Managers can approve digital time cards online. Or the system can be set to auto-approve. Eliminating paper time cards saves time for managers.

Outsource Your Memory to WFM Systems

Your workforce management schedule maker remembers all the particulars. It also contains templates to get you started. When you have modified a template, you can save it. You will never again have to start from scratch. Cut duplicate work. This improves productivity from the outset. But scheduling productivity gains don’t end there.

Just Right Team Scheduling

WFM scheduling tools ensure you have the right number of people in the right places. Overstaffing increases labor costs. Productivity per employee drops. Understaffing hurts job performance.

When understaffing stretches teams too thin, they aren’t as effective. Chronic understaffing increases employee turnover. Constant employee churn lowers productivity because new employees aren’t as productive. Experienced employees are the most productive. They also model productivity for new hires. This helps new hires get up to speed faster.

Productivity On The Go

Cloud-based systems with mobility give managers total workforce management. When supervisors have mobile access to all managerial tools, it seems like they have many more hours in a day. They can manage from home or on the road. They can use WFM tools at any satellite office or job site. Cloud computing also eliminates the problem of incompatible hardware. You only need an internet connection.


Managers can create schedules whenever it’s convenient. They can approve time cards and shift swaps while standing in line at the grocery store. Managers with mobile tools don’t need to stay in the office to catch up after hours. They can keep up with workloads while balancing non-work activities. They may spend just as much time working—but they have the flexibility to handle it on their own terms.

Alerts Prevent Escalation

Mobile WFM apps with alerts allow managers to respond to scheduling issues when they occur. This prevents problems from escalating. Pre-emptive correction increases productivity for all parties involved.

Mobile workforce management is total workforce management. Mobility prevents manager burnout and high manager turnover. Managers with a healthy work/life balance are more engaged with their jobs. Engagement drives productivity.

Don’t Let Overtime Hamper Productivity

Automated scheduling reduces unplanned overtime. When managers use overtime strategically, it can drive productivity. When it is the result of poor planning, it lowers productivity. Tired employees are less productive. They make more mistakes. Overtime sharply increases labor expenses. When you are paying time and a half, the employee needs to be 50% more productive just to stay even. Tired employees don’t usually perform 50% better. Often, they are much less productive after being on the job for a full shift.

Manage Employee Absences

Workforce management solutions let supervisors manage employee absences. This ensures that absences never cause a hiccup in production. When employees take time off, they are more productive when they return. When an employee requests upcoming leave, the manager enters it into the WFM system. When the date approaches—whether it’s the following week or three months later—the system gives an alert. No more surprises. When an employee calls in sick, the online trade board simplifies filling the shift. More on the online trade board below.

Improve Resource Allocation

The job codes in workforce management systems are invaluable. They enable managers to track productivity by any operational classification. These include employee, team, account, project, or product. This is especially important when employees perform multiple tasks. Optimizing human and non-human capital directly increases productivity.

Analytics and Machine Learning

Total workforce management provides analytics. Scheduling analytics help managers forecast scheduling needs. Analytics reveal the most productive employee groups. This helps managers assemble effective teams. Analytics reveal how shift allocation affects productivity. Managers can adapt to changing dynamics when they see the productivity implications.

The most advanced WFM systems have machine learning ability. That means its recommendations get better with time. Systems can guide routine decisions such as whether to approve a shift swap or move a team to another department. When you pair AI with automation, the productivity gains keep on coming.

Better Manager-Employee Communication

Many managers communicate schedule changes through texts. This may have been cutting edge when mobile phones appeared. (Before many of your employees were born.) Texting is a productivity killer. Even group texts are problematic. Let’s say a manager sends a group text to recruit an employee for an open shift. Each employee replies. Everyone in the group stops to read the thread to see what’s happening. If two employees volunteer to cover the shift, it takes time to sort it out. This is a ridiculous way to handle shift trading in the 21st Century.

Online trade boards are revolutionary. Everyone can see what’s going on with the schedule in real time. Cloud-based trade boards are the most effective. They allow any employee to see the evolving schedule from any mobile device. Any time of day. Anywhere. Organizations without an online trade board could be far more productive.

Workforce Management Improves Oversight

Total workforce management improves supervisor oversight. Employee time and attendance systems record punches immediately. Supervisors can see who’s at work. Paper time cards hamper oversight. Employees forget to write in punch times. A supervisor who has to rely on paper time cards for oversight is in the dark. WFM apps with GPS allow supervisors to see where mobile and offsite employees are.

Apps with geo-fencing prevent mobile employees from leaving the authorized area. Optimizing productivity begins with employee timekeeping and scheduling. WFM systems excel at these foundational processes.

Workforce Management And Employee Productivity

Employees enjoy the same WFM benefits as management and the Human Resources team. They don’t have to mess with paper time cards. They can access schedules online. They can handle shift trades with the online trade board. They can access basic HR information without contacting an administrator. They can update tax forms and contact information. They can review employee benefits without needing an HR rep. Mobile workforce management tools let them carry the HR department with them wherever they go.

Technology is a two-edged sword. A well-designed workforce management system can increase productivity if employees will use it. Thus, ease-of-use is paramount when choosing workforce management software. User interfaces that resemble your employees’ favorite apps will streamline the transition to automated workforce management.

Control is Key

There are psychological benefits, as well. Employees get paid for each minute they work. Automated systems record their hours accurately. Timid employees don’t need to bother HR for payroll or benefits information. They can request time off online. They can bid on open shifts. Having control over HR processes is a confidence booster.

Flexible Schedules for a Productive Workforce

Workforce management solutions allow business owners to offer flexible scheduling. Flexible scheduling boosts productivity. When employees have a better work/life balance, they are more engaged with their jobs. And they are more loyal to their employer. Employees with control over their schedules are healthier. They take fewer sick days. Employees who aren’t required to work overtime perform better and have less stress.

Telecommuting Can Boost Productivity

Automated workforce management software makes it easier for employers to allow remote work. A well-managed telecommuting policy can improve productivity in several ways.

Virtual workers put in five to seven more hours per week. They often work even when they’re sick or on vacation.

A Stanford University call center study found that working from home boosted productivity. There was a 13% performance increase overall. This was due to employees voluntarily working longer and taking more calls. The remote employees also reported that they were more satisfied with their jobs. Employee turnover decreased 50%. The company who participated in the study reported that it saved $2000 per employee.

Business owners should note that not all employees do well at home. Employers shouldn’t force workers to telecommute if they don’t want to. Companies can improve productivity if willing employees are allowed to telecommute. Even permitting employees to work at home one or two days a week can boost productivity.

Remote workers can perform many more job functions offsite. High-speed internet and cloud-based collaboration tools like video conferencing have expanded the abilities of remote workers.

Multi-Tasking or Multi-Slacking?

Worried that remote workers will slack off on company time? Octive CEO David Kerr (previously with Groupon and Angie’s List) recommends using key performance indicators (KPI’s) aligned with business objectives. This creates accountability and insight for the employee. It also allows the employer to measure performance.

Kerr believes telecommuting advantages outweigh the potential drawbacks. Most importantly, because it helps companies attract better talent. This leads us to our next benefit made possible with workforce management.

Expand Your Hiring Pool

Virtual working arrangements broaden the hiring pool for employers. A remote position may have hundreds of applicants. Employers can choose qualified, experienced employees who will be productive immediately. You aren’t limited to applicants willing to work at the business location. If you are in Omaha, you won’t attract sun-loving Californians. If your office is in Boston, you won’t attract people who prefer small towns and stress-free commutes.

In some industries, the most qualified people only accept telecommuting positions. In-demand employees can be choosy. Your next star innovator may be a remote worker.

Workforce Management Improves Employee Engagement

Businesses with a highly engaged workforce are more productive. Third-party apps leverage the power of WFM systems. Workforce management systems linked to third-party apps provide employees real-time measurements of productivity.

Some workforce management solutions have tools for performance evaluations. Managers can customize templates quickly and have a complete performance evaluation system in place. Some companies only do informal performance evaluations because they don’t have an easy way to administer them. WFM makes this easy.

Information Technology Productivity

There is another department that is affected by the existence (or absence) of WFM software. The information technology (IT) team maintains all hardware and software in an organization.

Cloud-based workforce management solutions have many advantages for the IT department. First off, the IT department doesn’t need to set up additional hardware to house software. Employees access cloud-based WFM systems from any internet-enabled device. Techs don’t need to maintain additional servers. They don’t need or install updates or provide tech support. They don’t need to worry about incompatible hardware. The workforce management vendor handles updates, server maintenance, tech support, and security. Implementing automated workforce management does not hamper the productivity of the IT team.

Compliance Efficiency

Time spent on compliance does not directly produce revenue. But failing to comply can result in expensive fines. These fines can sink a small business. Thus, managing compliance is critical. Companies without total workforce management are at a greater risk of noncompliance.

How do workforce management tools improve compliance efficiency? Consider the Affordable Care Act. ACA compliance is complicated because you have to know all your employees’ schedules and how many hours they’re going to work each week. Workforce management software tracks this information and gives supervisors total control. You can monitor, track, and make required changes instantly.

Payroll Based Journal (PBJ) is a relatively new requirement for long-term health facilities. In some ways, it’s more complicated than ACA compliance. With PBJ, you have to track staff-patient ratios as well as hours and schedules. Long-term health care facilities need WFM software with PBJ tools.

Workforce management tools help you properly classify employees. It also handles accruals, overtime pay, and benefits eligibility.

WFM solutions allow you to modify processes when there are new labor laws. This helps you avoid any productivity losses that can occur with a trial-and-error approach.

With workforce management, you don’t need to hire a dedicated compliance manager. And your HR team won’t have to spend as much time handling compliance and recordkeeping.

SwipeClock has been providing affordable workforce management solutions since 1999. 29,000 organizations are currently using SwipeClock cloud-based workforce management software to improve productivity and profitability.

Swipeclock’s newest product, WorkforceHUB, is the most advanced comprehensive Human Resources system on the market.

WorkforceHUB includes:

  • Employee Timekeeping
  • Team Scheduling
  • Employee Engagement
  • Benefits Enrollment
  • Onboarding
  • Performance Reviews
  • Bi-Directional Payroll Integration
  • Managed Workflows
  • Alerts/Notifications
  • Support for third-party apps

WorkforceHUB integrates with BambooHR, Quickbooks Desktop, Thomson CS, and 30 other workforce management/payroll platforms.

SwipeClock also offers a variety of employee time clocks including PIN, proximity fobs, finger scanners, and swipe cards. We have a clock for every workplace and budget. For more information on SwipeClock employee time clocks, see TimeWorksTouch.

By Liz Strikwerda

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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