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Workforce Optimization: What It Is And How It Affects Your Success

Are you ready to cut costs and increase productivity in your business? Incorporate workforce optimization practices into your workflow.

When you improve the way your team functions within your business, you essentially work smarter rather than harder to achieve the same results. This can have a substantial and far-reaching effect on your organization’s success.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the power of workforce optimization and show you how to begin using it in your business.

What Is Workforce Optimization?

Laptop and plant on a white desk

Workforce optimization (WFO) is a set of strategies that help you automate essential processes, maintain data visibility, comply with legal ordinances, and solve business problems related to your staff.

WFO involves analyzing data related to every department within your business — from HR to IT and beyond — and then streamlining those departments to improve the way your company runs.

As an integrated system, workforce optimization allows you to balance a number of critical variables within your business, including:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Workforce scheduling
  • Operational costs
  • Service levels
  • Performance metrics

When these factors align, your business will run smoother, your team will be more efficient and effective, and you’ll be able to scale your operation (up or down) to manage the demands of your customers.

How is this possible? Through the power of data and analytics. Workforce optimization provides comprehensive information about the way your business works.

The insight you can gain will help you predict staffing needs, perfect employee scheduling, and match skills to jobs within your organization.

The benefits of this type of “deep dive” into the numbers at the foundation or your business are numerous and can affect your success for the better.

How Does Workforce Optimization Affect Success?

Business owner standing outside a tall building, celebrating success with workforce optimization

1) Improves Customer Service

Within business, there’s a direct relationship between keeping your customers happy and the success you’ll enjoy. If one goes up, so does the other.

When you tailor your workforce to the demands of your client base (i.e., the right number of team members to handle the volume of contacts), your customer service will increase as well.

2) Reduces Risk Of Non-Compliance

A large part of workforce optimization is about complying with local, state, and federal employment laws.

When you abide by all the statutes, regulations, and ordinances (e.g., payroll, overtime, work hours), you avoid the penalties and problems that come with non-compliance.

3) Decreases Labor Costs

Labor is one of the largest expenses your business has to deal with. By optimizing your workforce, you can gain more control over both the way your employees work and the costs associated with this activity.

That can have a profound effect on your business’s bottom line and the ultimate success of your company.

4) Boosts Employee Productivity And Efficiency

Keeping your team’s productivity and efficiency high is a challenge for even the most successful businesses.

Workforce optimization simplifies that task with analytics and insights into the way your business and your employees operate on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

5) Increases Visibility

Given enough time, workforce optimization has the added benefit of increasing the visibility of your business among other businesses and the public at large.

When your business becomes known as an organization that values and empowers its employees, word spreads without any extra effort on your part

The result of that extra visibility is a good reputation that can lead to other, more diverse dividends down the road.

6) Builds Customer Loyalty

man ordering at a coffee shop

With an effective workforce optimization program in place, customer service and employee productivity improve dramatically. That has the supplementary — but no less important — effect of building customer loyalty for your business.

Customer loyalty is the measure of a consumer’s willingness to do repeat business with your company or brand.

Defining characteristics of customer loyalty include:

  • Not easily influenced by availability or pricing of other brands
  • Willing to pay a premium for a familiar product or service
  • Provide feedback on how to improve products or services
  • Willing to try other products or services from the same business
  • Understanding when issues arise
  • Not actively searching for a different brand
  • Willing to refer your product or service to their friends and family

Though not every customer will exhibit all of these traits, the results of workforce optimization often lead to an improvement of at least one or two in most individuals.

7) Provides Insight Into Employee Performance

Workforce optimization gives you a better understanding of how your team functions together — including engagement, teamwork, and cohesion — so that you can more precisely measure employee performance.

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.

You can also use the data you gather with WFO to improve your performance review process. Your evaluations will be more tailored to the individual and more representative of what they can do to improve the way they work.

8) Streamlines Project Management

Another benefit of WFO is streamlined project management. This goes above and beyond just employee performance to include everything from planning and preparation to time-on-task and everything in-between.

All of this combines to give you an extremely precise picture of the project on which you’re working. Though your team may have completed the project on time, was it successful in regard to other variables, such as hours worked, money spent, and resources expended?

Data from WFO reports can answer those questions.

When you know where true project success lies, you can focus your employees’ efforts in that direction on a more regular basis.

9) Attracts Top Talent

Finding the best team members is crucial for the success of your company. Workforce optimization can help.

Not only does it help you identify exactly what types of skills your business needs, over time, it actually attracts top talent to your organization.

This process is very similar to the way WFO increases visibility with the public at large. In this case, though, the reputation you’re making is among potential employees.

For more information on hiring and retaining high-potential and high-performing employees, check out these articles from the Sling blog:

10) Makes SHRM Possible

Many of the systems in your business build off one another in a recursive manner. Workforce optimization and strategic human resource management (SHRM for short) are prime examples.

If you’re unfamiliar with strategic human resource management, it’s a holistic approach to assembling the best team for your business’s growth and success.

It takes the practice of recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, and development to the next level by hiring and training employees in alignment with the goals of the business and the vision statement, mission statement, and organizational strategies that guide them.

WFO makes that type of strategic planning possible. In a similar fashion — the recursive manner mentioned above — an effective SHRM system makes better workforce optimization possible. The two systems feed and build off one another.

Implementing a WFO program in your business opens the door to a host of advanced business practices that can take your company to the next level.

These are just a few of the many ways managing and optimizing your workforce will contribute to the success of your business. Now that you understand the why, let’s turn our attention to the how.

Workforce Optimization Best Practices

Coworkers in a meeting discussing workforce optimization best practices

1) Get Employees, Managers, And Owners Involved

Workforce optimization only works when everyone in your organization — from employees to managers to owners — is involved in implementing the process.

Workforce optimization takes many forms and depends on your unique operating model. The solutions you execute directly affect your team, so you don’t want to make a choice at the higher levels only to have it upset or confuse your employees.

2) Implement A Scheduling Solution

An essential part of managing your workforce (and optimizing it for the better) is using the best tools to streamline and perfect your scheduling.

Creating the best schedule possible allows you to match the skills of your team members with the specific jobs in your organization. When this happens, your employees are happy, your customers are happy, and everything runs smoothly.

For example, the Sling suite of workforce management tools has a built-in A.I. that offers suggestions and alerts to help you build the right schedule based on your needs.

3) Keep Team Members Focused With Task Assignments

One of the best ways to optimize the way your team works is to help them stay focused on their assignments.

Any workforce optimization software must have a “To-Do List” that managers and employees alike can access to see what needs to be done next.

Sling’s task list, for instance, even allows you to set due dates, get reminders as deadlines approach, and follow the overall progress of tasks.

4) Incorporate Time And Attendance Software

Gone are the days of paper timesheets, time theft, and even fixed clock-in/clock-out terminals.

Modern time and attendance software is now available in the cloud for all your team members to access wherever and whenever they need them.

The Sling app, for example, transforms any computer, tablet, or smartphone into a time clock so your employees can clock in or out at their convenience.

Sling even lets you set up restrictions (e.g., how many minutes before and after their shift employees can clock in or out) and geofences so that your employees can’t clock in unless they’re on the premises.

5) Improve Communication

Communication is at the heart of the workforce optimization process. Whether you talk to your team members in person, send messages via email, or instant message them with updates and policy changes, you need a communication structure in place.

If you don’t communicate well regularly, you’re going to have a hard time relaying information in a timely fashion to those who need it most.

The best team management software (like Sling) lets you communicate efficiently from a single platform without the need for third-party add-ons. With Sling, you can send messages to groups, individuals, and even locations in order to keep everyone informed.

And with Sling’s unique newsfeed feature, you can post updates, files, pictures, and videos to make all of your business information available to everyone.

6) Implement Team Task Management

Meeting for workforce optimization

A big part of workforce optimization revolves around keeping your team on task. That’s where team task management comes in.

Team task management is the process of directing, organizing, and conducting both smaller tasks and larger projects through to their conclusion.

This often involves:

  • Planning
  • Testing
  • Tracking
  • Reporting
  • Enforcing deadlines
  • Integrating task dependencies
  • Creating priorities
  • Managing time on task

In some ways, team task management looks a lot like two other common business practices: the simple to-do list and project management. In practice, though, the three activities are actually very different.

The to-do list is a simple way to inform employees about what needs to be done on any given day and serves to keep everyone — yourself included — organized and moving in the right direction.

On the other end of the scale, project management focuses on the phases a large-scale undertaking goes through and the team effort behind it.

Team task management lies somewhere in between. It focuses on individual jobs that must be done to keep the project or the business running smoothly — not just reminding you to refill the copy machine when the paper runs out.

Sling’s workforce optimization software offers integrated team task management features that help you manage individuals, teams, and projects so you can clarify responsibilities and ensure that everyone is focused on completing the goals at hand.

7) Track Payroll And Benefits Digitally

Calculating and coordinating payroll and benefits manually is extremely difficult and time-consuming. But, in this day and age of specialized apps for all occasions, it doesn’t have to be.

Sling’s integrated labor costs and reporting features are the tool you need to make tracking payroll and benefits simple again.

Sling’s workforce management software automates and streamlines many of the steps involved in the process so that paying your employees takes less time and effort than before.

Sling, 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 included in our WFO software also give you more options when it comes to the speed with which you administer your payroll and benefits. Sling includes helpful features, like immediate end-of-shift payments and the ability to sync timesheets to payroll.

Sling even allows you to handle fringe benefits, such as paid time off (PTO), leave balances, and banked time, with the press of a button or the click of a mouse.

8) Analyze Data To Forecast Labor Trends

Data graphs to help with workforce optimization

As we mentioned earlier, labor costs are one of the largest expenses your business is likely to contend with.

And, because you can’t manage what you don’t measure, Sling’s workforce optimization tools give you the ability to forecast trends and optimize labor spending.

Sling even allows you to set wages per employee or position and see, in real time, how much each shift you schedule is going to cost.

Being able to see labor costs while you schedule helps you keep track of your labor budget and makes it easier to produce substantial savings, wider margins, and increased profits.

You can even spot and avoid potential overtime and view labor as a percentage of sales so that you know exactly where your money is going.

9) Budget For A Better Bottom Line

With the forecasting power inherent in Sling’s workforce optimization software, you can more accurately budget for your largest expenses, such as raw materials, new equipment, and technology.

Sling’s tools give you raw data about aspects of your business that, in the past, may have been opaque and confusing.

The information you gather with WFO tools sheds light on the dark corners of your business where your capital management may have been hit or miss.

That allows for more accurate budgeting, which, in turn, helps you conserve and redirect much-needed funds to other parts of your business.

Manage And Optimize Your Team With Sling

Sling's scheduling feature

For an all-in-one solution to help you improve your workforce management and optimization, incorporate the Sling suite of tools into your workflow.

Features include:

  • Powerful and intuitive scheduling
  • Comprehensive time-tracking (with geofencing)
  • Dynamic reporting
  • Time-saving payroll processing
  • Customizable communication (e.g., location-specific or team-wide)
  • Effective budgeting
  • Productive labor cost optimization
  • Helpful overtime control
  • And much more…

Add to that the onboard artificial intelligence and you’ve got an extremely beneficial and flexible set of tools that will help you get control of your team, improve engagement, and improve the way they work.

Sling's labor cost feature

So take your workforce optimization to the next level with Sling — the complete employee management package. Try Sling for free and discover just how easy it is to streamline your operations and keep your business on the road to success.

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

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