Workforce Management: The Complete Guide For Business Owners

workforce management team

In the early 2000s, workforce management referred to a broad category of business activity — what we now call human resource management (HRM). As business practices evolved over the past 20 years, workforce management took on a much more specific, technical definition.

In this article, the experts at Inch discuss the key components of workforce management and why they matter so much to your business.

What Is Workforce Management?

Workforce management (abbreviated WFM) is a combined set of interrelated processes and practices that businesses use to track and improve the productivity of their employees.

With the growth of mobile technology and cloud computing, those processes and practices are now conducted, almost exclusively, via computer and its associated software (a.k.a. apps).

Add to that the fact that many businesses are now coordinating both on-site and remote workers, and it quickly becomes apparent why businesses of all sizes and types are turning to digital solutions to help them keep everything organized.

We’ll focus on an example of one such digital solution — Inch — and how it applies to workforce management as a whole in this article.

Key Components Of Workforce Management

Employees working on coding

1) Task Management

An essential element of all good workforce management programs is organizing and executing tasks. Whether your team members work in-house, offsite, or online, delegating work and ensuring that it gets done in a timely and correct manner is crucial for your business’s success.

Incorporating WFM processes and technology into your standard operating procedures makes coordinating complicated tasks much simpler.

The Inch app, for example, gives you the power to distribute tasks across your team and prioritize what gets done when, whether employees are in the building, across town, or across the country.

Team members can even access the task list from any device — phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop — so they always know where they need to go and what they need to work on next.

2) Time Tracking

Another key component of strong workforce management is time tracking.

In the past, many businesses relied on pen and paper to conduct this important activity. That often meant assembling multiple timesheets, entering the information into a computer, crunching the numbers for payroll, and examining the data to identify trends, discrepancies, and how it all affects strategy.

Now, the Inch app makes it easy to track and control when your team works without having to collate reams of paper and spend hours on end entering the information into your computer.

And, with Inch, you no longer have to cobble together multiple apps just to keep everything digital. Inch is your one-stop, turnkey solution to task and field service management.

Incorporating the Inch app into your workflow can have a dramatic effect on one of the largest expenses your business has to contend with — labor costs.

With the Inch app, not only can you assign tasks to anyone, anywhere — on-site or off — but you can also:

  • Turn any phone into a time clock and allow employees to clock in and clock out from anywhere
  • Set up geofencing so that team members are in the right place when they start and end their work
  • Prevent early clock-ins and forgotten clock-outs
  • Reduce time theft
  • Export timesheets for simplified payroll processing
  • Much more…

Regardless of whether you manage a remote or in-office team, the Inch WFM software can help your business simplify time tracking for more accurate payroll and data acquisition.

3) Communication

Woman doing work at a coffee shop

One of the biggest bottlenecks in workforce management is communication. Distributing information quickly and consistently to a large team can take a lot of time out of your day if done incorrectly.

Whether you talk to your employees in person, send messages via email, or instant message them with updates and policy changes, you need a communication structure in place in order to get things done.

That communication structure must function efficiently for everyday activities as well as any emergencies that occur. You don’t want there to be confusion when you’re trying to reassign who does what when a rush job comes up.

With Inch, for example, you can send private and group messages at the click of a button and organize conversations by different teams, locations, or skill sets.

That way, you can keep everyone informed — and stay informed yourself — without missing a beat in your daily activities.

4) Scheduling

The heart of your workforce management is scheduling both short-term, day-to-day activities and long-term, month-to-month (and even year-to-year) plans.

Look for a program that combines the simplicity of a calendar view and the easy distribution of cloud-based technology. That way, you and your employees can access the schedule wherever you are, whenever you choose.

Inch, for example, harnesses the power of cloud computing to let you manage multiple locations from your base of operations.

Or, if you’re mobile during the day, you can use Inch to manage all your employees — no matter where they’re located — on your iOS, Android, or Windows device.

That’s true flexibility and power.

5) Compliance

workforce management app

If not managed properly, local, state, and federal compliance can be a major speedbump for your team and your business.

Owners, managers, and employees have to contend with operational compliance, payroll compliance, employment compliance, internal-process compliance, and many others.

Add to that the fact that laws and regulations differ from city to city, county to county, and state to state, and it’s easy to see how compliance could become the most complicated component your business has to deal with.

That’s where WFM processes and software can help.

Advanced tools, such as Inch, make it easy to organize, optimize, and track essential information and activities, including:

  • Family and sick leave requirements
  • Business-specific procedures
  • Training
  • Missed breaks
  • Job checklists
  • Necessary certifications
  • In-house processes and behaviors
  • Union agreements
  • Labor standards

When your team and your business have a tool to help maintain compliance in all activities, you won’t have to worry about running afoul of local, state, or federal legislation or about your employees missing crucial steps in job-related activities.

6) Future Trends Prediction

Analyzing past and present data can give you insight into how your team and your business operate and allow you to predict future trends with more accuracy.

This can be helpful in many ways but, most notably, when it comes to one of the largest expenses your business has: labor costs.

You can’t control what you don’t measure, so a big part of your WFM depends on getting access to the numbers that help you make the right decisions for your business.

Inch, for example, combines two variables — scheduling and labor cost control — into one streamlined process. With our software, you can set wages per employee or position, see how much each shift of your schedule is going to cost, and optimize spending while you schedule.

Armed with that information, you’ll be better able to:

  • Keep track of your labor budget
  • Save money
  • Create wider margins
  • Increase profits
  • Spot and avoid potential overtime

You’ll even be able to view labor as a percentage of sales so that you can identify exactly where your money is going to go in the coming weeks, months, and years.

7) Payroll And Benefits

Businessperson Hands check To employee

Another key component of workforce management is the administration of payroll and benefits.

Most managers will testify that conducting payroll and benefits disbursement is extremely difficult and time-consuming. So much so that the majority of businesses outsource these activities to specialized payroll-processing companies.

But whether you calculate payroll in-house or contract another business to do it for you, tools such as Inch can make the entire process much simpler.

Our software, for example, provides custom reports with information that prepares your business for both immediate payroll administration and the taxes that come at the end of the fiscal year.

The tools built right into Inch also give you more options when it comes to the speed with which you administer your payroll and benefits, including:

  • Syncing timesheets to payroll tools
  • Immediate data availability
  • Tracking work hours online
  • Manually exporting hours worked
  • Handling fringe benefits (e.g., paid time off, leave balances, banked time)
  • Importing labor cost reports
  • Setting up custom pay periods

Inch’s payroll-management capabilities save you hours so you can spend less time crunching numbers and more time managing your business.

And because all of your information is stored in the cloud, you can manage your payroll processing from any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. As long as you have an internet connection, you can access your data anywhere, anytime.

8) Real-Time Management

Managing a group of employees who all work together in the same physical location is hard enough. But throw in a distributed workforce, a remote team, or a field service component, and you’ve got a logistical nightmare on your hands.

The best WFM tools, however, simplify the logistics of managing in-house and off-site employees by making it possible to coordinate activities in real time.

With Inch, for example, if a remote team member gets sick and can’t work on their part of the project, they can contact you through the app, and you can assign another team member to focus on that part of the project until the sick team member returns.

Such real-time management gives you the agility and speed to manage the ups and downs of your workforce with as little downtime and inconvenience as possible.

9) Employee Performance

Bartender serving beer

Employee performance is a big part of what makes your business successful. As such, effective workforce management procedures and software should take this variable into account.

For example, Inch’s ability to track time — both an employee’s full workday and their time-on-task (however many there may be throughout the day) — gives you a better understanding of how each team member is performing.

When you understand the way each member of your team works and how they work together, you’ll be able to implement procedures that take productivity to the next level.

Such employee performance data also makes it easier to improve how you handle performance reviews and evaluations so that the feedback you provide will be more tailored to the individual and more representative of what they can do to improve the way they work.

10) Project Performance

Another essential component of workforce management is overall project performance. This goes above and beyond the employee performance variable we discussed above.

Project performance includes:

  • Planning
  • Preparation
  • Time-on-task
  • Final rollout
  • Everything in between

All of this combines to give you a hyper-accurate picture of the project on which you’re working.

Though your team may have completed the project on time, was it successful regarding other variables, such as hours worked, money spent, and resources expended?

Data from WFM tools can answer those questions. When you know how to control project performance down to the smallest detail, you can focus your team’s efforts on the things that will help your business succeed.

11) Budgeting

Earlier in this article, we discussed how workforce management helps you predict future trends and forecast certain aspects of your business.

Such knowledge gives you the ability to more accurately budget for your business’s largest expenses, including:

  • Raw materials
  • New equipment
  • Technology
  • Facilities maintenance
  • Additional team members
  • Training

Whatever those large expenses may be, our software can help you budget better, conserve your resources, and redirect funds to other parts of your business.

Why Effective Workforce Management Matters

Team working remotely

1) Efficiency

Efficiency is all about getting things done promptly.

With advanced task management, time tracking, and process checklists, the right WFM software boosts efficiency wherever your team is working and on whatever job they’re focused.

2) Productivity

With the advanced features that the Inch workforce management software has to offer — and the efficiency they produce — your team’s productivity is likely to increase dramatically.

Even if you implement new programs and processes one at a time (instead of all at once), you’ll see productivity improve somewhere in your business. It’s just that powerful.

3) Agility

Inch app for workforce management

Trying to manage your on-site workforce is hard enough. Add in a remote-work option or a field service component, and you’ve got a very real nightmare on your hands.

That’s why the best workforce management software allows you to see and make changes in real time.

With Inch, for example, if a salesperson breaks down en route to an appointment across town, they can contact you through the app, and you can dispatch another salesperson to cover the call with as little downtime and inconvenience to the client as possible.

This gives you the agility and the speed to manage the ups and downs of your workforce without breaking a sweat.

4) Transparency

In workforce management, transparency must go both ways — from team member to management and from management to team member.

You need to be able to see what your employees are doing, and they need to be able to see what you’re doing (and why).

WFM apps make that transparency possible by giving everyone involved insight into what other parts of the business are doing both in real time and over the long run.

5) Customer Service

Efficient and effective workforce management has a direct impact on how your customers feel about your business.

When you provide quality service with as little delay as possible through proper WFM, your business’s reputation will improve and more customers will flock to your door.

6) Recruiting

Handshake between to coworkers

Finding the right employees for your team can be difficult.

But with an effective and efficient WFM program in place, your human resources department will be better equipped to recruit the employees your business needs to succeed.

Overall, workforce management is part of a larger program of human resource management that operates to attract, hire, develop, reward, and retain employees for their benefit, the benefit of each department, and the benefit of the business as a whole.

A clear-cut WFM program allows you to identify the needs of every department, match skills with positions, and recruit team members with specific goals in mind.

7) Onboarding

Once you’ve recruited and hired the right employee for the job, how do you go about integrating them into the team?

With a streamlined process in place, you won’t have to stress about the onboarding process. Your business’s human resources department will be equipped with the tools to create an onboarding program that is personal, effective, and efficient.

With help from WFM tools, you’ll be able to initiate the process before your new hire’s first day, prepare your team for the new arrival, set expectations, and make them feel as welcome as possible.

8) Development

workforce management meeting

Another benefit of workforce management is that your business will be better prepared to develop the talent it already has rather than being forced to look elsewhere.

Whether it’s on-the-job training, professional development, or career development, WFM software, such as Inch, makes it easy to create and maintain an employee development process that really works.

The process begins with considering your business’s goals and strategies and progresses through steps like:

  • Assessing potential and readiness
  • Reviewing performance
  • Deciding what skills each employee needs
  • Deciding what form the training will take
  • Creating a plan that addresses the before, during, and after

WFM software gives you more control over the entire process so you can tailor it to the needs of the new hire, your team, and your business.

9) Team Management

Team management is all about communication. More specifically, it’s about:

  • Communicating expectations
  • Establishing objectives
  • Identifying goals
  • Delivering feedback
  • Reviewing results

WFM software streamlines and strengthens those activities so that your team management program becomes more robust, effective, and beneficial for your business.

The interaction between you and your team cannot be haphazard in this regard. It must be planned and regular for your employees — and your business — to truly benefit.

WFM programs and software, such as Inch, make it easier to be consistent with your team management activities so that you can inspire your employees to new heights of performance and productivity.

The Best Tool For Workforce Management

The Best Tool For Workforce Management

If you’re looking for the best way to perfect your workforce management, Inch is the app for you.

What is Inch? It’s a suite of voice-operated task-management, time-tracking, communication, and scheduling tools all rolled into one. It’s also available for smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop computers.

The software incorporates task management and time tracking in one powerful solution and is designed to make it easier for managers and employees to get aligned on their to-dos, ensuring that all tasks get completed on time.

Inch also simplifies communication. Employees can perform a wide variety of tasks from their tablet or phone, including:

  • Working from a shared task list
  • Getting clarity on work that needs to get done
  • Receiving voice-assisted reminder notifications
  • Clocking in and out of tasks at different locations
  • Completing work assigned to them
  • Communicating with managers and each other

All of that and more without having to touch a mobile screen or report back to the office.

For managers, Inch makes it easy to distribute tasks manually across their teams or populate tasks automatically based on preset conditions.

This unique feature ensures that all work is covered and keeps employees accountable and clear on their specific responsibilities, expected outcomes, and deadlines.

Managers can also assign work to the employees that are closest to the jobsite or have tasks generate automatically as the need arises. And they can follow work progress and task completion in real time.

Inch helps eliminate frustration for employees, headaches for managers, and inefficiencies for the business.

Whether you need help setting up when each team member will work during the week or what tasks they will perform, Inch gives you unprecedented control over an inherently complicated process and makes it easier than ever to streamline the workforce management side of your business.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit today.

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