Workforce management focuses on taking strategic actions to maximize company performance, effectively getting the best from employees at every level and making the organization as a whole more productive. The activities involved encompass all aspects of how a workforce functions, including human resources planning, staff training and development, performance management, payments and benefits, recruitment procedures, time-keeping, and attendance. To a degree, it may also include market forecasting. Workforce management usually centers on matching the right employee with the right job and promoting effective workload scheduling.
In today’s technological society, workforce management is achieved using integrated software systems that are adaptable, flexible, and increasingly dynamic. These systems assist with business planning, and because they undertake monitoring and evaluation, they provide a guide for employers as to when they may need to make changes, such as altering work schedules in order to optimize business performance.
Workforce management in education
Introducing the concept of workforce management to schools and colleges has the potential to revolutionize current operating methods, which would benefit students as well as staff. As districts and schools continue to feel pressured to align budgets with the costs of employee time and labor, thereby reducing costs, they are also coping with other requirements, some of them statutory, as with enhanced compliance. Schools also want to create a positive working environment for their staff members and to enable students to perform at their full academic potential. This is where workforce management systems can be of great benefit; just as it has been successful in helping business meet their goals, so toocan it provide similar assistance to the education sector.
Education workforce management software delivers automated solutions that help teachers and managers to optimize student outcomes, meeting their everyday challenges by making it much simpler to manage educational resources. For employees, it can facilitate improved communication and avoid scheduling conflicts as well as develop and motivate staff and monitor absenteeism. It has the capacity to streamline budget and planning procedures, for example by matching labor costs to specific programs, grants, or projects, all of which helps to make audit reporting more transparent.
In terms of compliance, workforce management can minimize the associated risks, such as incurring labor grievance procedures or legal action, by improving the capabilities of existing resources to deal with union rules and government regulations.
Successful implementation of workforce management requires a significant amount of planning at the outset, because the aim is to take a holistic approach and involve everyone who will be impacted by its introduction, which tends to be pretty much everyone in the organization. At the planning stage, both the technical infrastructure and the business model need to be considered if they are to be successfully integrated. Key departments need to communicate effectively and to understand where they fit in terms of their function – from the human resources managers through to the IT team.
Everyone must understand that flexibility and change are part of what makes workforce management effective – focusing on the positive benefits will help staff to understand what they will gain from the process. Often a senior manager or other high-level employee with appropriate power is appointed as project champion. This is so that someone is in place who is knowledgeable about and interested in workforce management and can manage the corporate politics so often associated with introducing change.
Aspects to consider
New systems often provoke suspicion, with employees tending to identify with “what will I lose out on” rather than “what will I gain.” For this reason, it is useful to focus on those aspects of the new system that will empower employees, while always remembering that changes to work scheduling will have a wider impact, affecting supervisors and management as well as teachers or other employees. Thorough training in using a new system will mean that staff members are more comfortable with the technology and what it can achieve. Reinforcing training and regularly testing skills will help to ensure that employees are confident in using workforce management software.
Setting up a new system can be achieved relatively quickly and easily. However, it still takes some time to make the small adjustments that will be necessary in order to optimize the various business processes and tailor these changes to better suit the specific organization or business. In most schools and many businesses, labor costs make up the largest proportion of expenditure. It is in this area that workforce management solutions will prove to be invaluable. With improved work scheduling,employers will gain a better return on their investment in people.