No matter the size, industry, or philosophy of your business, workforce management is an ever-present struggle. Even when you’re on top of things, all it takes is a new innovation or a key team member leaving to rock the boat and put you back at square one.
Therefore, it’s important to understand the keys to creating an efficient team so you can adapt your strategy and meet any challenges the world throws at you. In this article, we’ll look at 10 paths to an efficient distribution of employees, including specialist tools, leadership techniques, and how to manage a remote workforce.
Key to any successful company is meticulous organization behind the scenes. In the context of your workforce, this means carefully selecting who you want to bring in and keeping detailed records of them once they’re through the door.
To create an efficient workforce, you need an efficient hiring system. Instead of opening up room for human biases and poor judgment calls, you can screen for the key skills you need before approaching every interview in a consistent, methodical way.
Once you’ve made a decision and got your candidate through the door, continue your methodical process with onboarding and information gathering. Track every advancement, training session, data change, and more in your employee directory.
With an up-to-date directory, you get all the information you need to assign tasks, share out responsibility, and take key decisions in the future. This system sets the organizational groundwork for all the keys we’ll look at throughout this article.
When considering the question “what is workforce management?”, one of the first things that comes to mind is how to deploy people in positions where they can be of most value. That means you shouldn’t squeeze a designer into a social media strategist role, even if they do make it look beautiful. This is an obvious win-win strategy: your staff feel motivated and appreciated, while your customers get the best out of any department they engage with.
Of course, you’ll have to have a bit of task crossover here and there, especially if you’re a small team. Therefore, when people step out of their comfort zones, be sure to offer the support they need to feel confident in their new role. If you find yourself stretching your team’s abilities too often, it’s time to think about a restructure.
Giving the right job to the right person also means a bit of introspection from you, the manager. Company founders especially are notorious for wanting to control everything. Micromanaging in this way will lead to a significant drop in your personal performance, and almost guaranteed frustration and bitterness from those around you. Therefore, wise delegation is a crucial skill for any leader to learn.
Speaking of delegation, workforce management best practices also recommend empowering your staff by offering different avenues for professional progression. Younger generations are aware of what’s out there and are always on a mission to switch things up and keep learning. Therefore, if you can’t offer them a next step, someone else will.
It is of course better for organizations to retain staff, rather than having to onboard and fully integrate new recruits every few weeks. And alongside competitive pay packets and desirable working conditions, a clear career path is a great way of keeping your turnover low.
As well as delegating tasks to your team, you can offer more responsibility by making an individual a project lead or part of a specialist scrum team. Similarly, you can offer training opportunities so your staff can broaden their skill set and take on more responsibility that way.
Finally, by posting vacant positions on internal job boards, you show your people you’re willing to invest in them. In return, you have a tight-knit team that knows how the company works in great detail.
When you’re looking into methods of making your workforce management more efficient, it’s easy to focus on speeding up processes. However, there are all kinds of ways that let you save money and reinvest it in more efficient strategies.
Nowhere is this clearer than by saving a ton on your overheads by switching to a remote office. With all your rent and electricity bills reduced to zero (not to mention the money saved by your staff who no longer have to commute!), you can increase the wage bill and look for higher-value team members.
However, for a super-efficient team, you need to learn how to manage a remote workforce. Sure, everybody appreciates the freedoms you’re offering, but how are you going to guarantee you’re getting quality work out of your staff?
That said, when you focus workforce management efforts on a remote team, the benefits are endless. Think 24/7 call centers with multiple languages, sales agents living and breathing their markets, and a dream team pulled together from a global talent pool for the perfect candidate, not just the nearest match in your local area.
Whether we’re talking about remote teams or in-house departments, time tracking software is a great monitoring tool that tells you whether your team is performing to the standards you expect.
It’s a simple system: when each individual starts working, they start their timer. When they’re done, they turn it off. The best time tracking software automatically syncs each team member’s timer with your internal systems. You can then look at how many units of work each employee has completed in their reported period of time and get a comprehensive idea of their productivity.
Time tracking reports are a great metric to look at in one-to-one appraisals. However, as a manager, you can check on productivity at the start of every week and get proactive when necessary. Call a quick, informal meeting to address the root causes when tasks are overrunning. Small, frequent interventions when productivity is dropping are at the heart of promoting efficient workforce management.
Transform the way you manage your workforce with Bitrix24. Employee scheduling, attendance tracking, performance analytics. 35+ workforce management tools.
Time tracking gathers information that can be channeled in a wide range of directions. Project management is possibly the most fruitful of these — an area where understanding time is of utmost importance.
In practice, you apply data gathered on the duration of every task to your workforce management. This technique helps you get an average for daily tasks, such as writing a blog post or planning a week’s worth of social media. Then, you can create workflows with reliable timeframes that you can share with your clients and calculate the ROI of each step along the way including staff wages.
Projects are never easy, however, and you might experience some unexpected hiccups along the way. Your time trackers will point you directly to where the issues occurred so you can work on repairing that link in the chain. However, it is also wise to calculate how much extra time you should factor into each project for unpredictable delays. Add the leeway to your workflow templates and keep your quotes in line with your results.
We’ve already hinted at this key before, but automations more than deserve their own section in a guide for efficient workforce management. They are simple algorithms that you can customize to remove simple, repetitive tasks from your workflows.
These days, almost all workforce management software contains automations, and their users love them. Take, for example, a self-running workflow template. All of your tasks are interconnected, so when one is marked as complete, the following one is assigned to the appropriate person. These dependencies act as a second-in-command to a project manager, making sure everyone has enough work to be getting on with even if the actual manager is out of office.
By cutting out the time and headspace spent on these repetitive tasks, you can focus your team’s effort on the tasks that need human input. A great example of this is for appraisals. As a manager, you can pull out a detailed report on each employee’s performance and efficiency at the click of a button, rather than keeping manual records that can easily disappear.
Accountability is often used in a negative sense, bringing justice to those who have done wrong. But what if we saw accountability through the lens of ownership? Rather than taking the blame when things go wrong, your team can see projects as their baby and receive all the due praise when things go right.
When each person takes accountability for their individual role, as well as for an overall project, you avoid that uneasy situation where nobody is quite sure at what stage they are. Instead, you have a group of leaders who are all ready and waiting to take control of a situation.
Encouraging accountability starts at onboarding — tell each team member what their responsibilities are and who they should report to. Next, as you’re setting instructions in your project management software, you can assign a responsible person so everybody knows who is leading each task. Keep your praise public and your criticism private to give each team member that extra nudge to step up to the plate.
Clear, efficient communication is a key tenet of a well-running team. Without it, you open the door to confusion, frustration, and wasted time. Especially when it comes to remote teams, poor communication can cause individuals to feel isolated and unmotivated which is detrimental to effective workforce management.
Communication starts at the onboarding stage where you outline the ultimate goals of your organization and tell each new recruit what part they will play in achieving those goals. Next, you should foster a relatively flat hierarchy whereby every team member feels comfortable to suggest new ideas and crucially, to flag risks to the organization.
Create policies that cover which communication tools to use for which purpose, but also how to use them. Do you want to allow contact outside of working hours or ensure your team can end their working day without fear of their phone buzzing late at night. A solid communication policy can safeguard your team’s privacy and keep them happy and motivated during the working day.
There’s no one solution to all of your efficiency issues, but if you focus workforce management efforts at regular intervals, you put yourself in the best position to maintain high standards. By constantly adjusting your approach, you can remove the need for major investments and an adaptation period to completely overhaul your service.
One of the most abundant wells of improvement comes with new technology. As significant innovations hit the market, organizations often scramble to take advantage of them. For example, collaborative cloud computing and video conferencing software have allowed remote offices to flourish, while human resources information systems are revolutionizing recruitment.
Similarly, you can turn to your customers for information on how well you’re doing. Gather feedback and see what your users actually want. That way, you can embark on new strategies with confidence, rather than wasting time and resources going in the wrong direction. To get into the habit of constant improvement, consider scheduling monthly meetings with department heads to formalize your intentions.
If you’re coming across difficulties with the productivity of your team, start off with workforce management software like Bitrix24. With one central place to launch all your optimization strategies, you can adjust, measure, and report on any advancements in your team.
No worries if you’re on a budget. You can sign up for free today and discover how a tool already used by 10,000,000 organizations can revolutionize yours.