Image of male call center agent smiling as he is talking on the headset and to the left there is a call center manager with a clipboard smiling at the camera.

The new year’s start brings on deadlines, growing to-do lists, and more pressure that can make it tough to be productive. However, there are some ways in which business leaders are able to help their teams navigate peak-season work pressure.

Before getting into the best practices for effectively alleviating peak-season work pressure, let’s clarify what workforce management is and how your organization can implement meaningful practices that make a difference.

Workforce Management

Workforce management (WFM) is an ever-evolving set of processes that increase an organization’s productivity levels. Initially, it was a scheduling process but has quickly grown over the years to help construct a sustainable and productive workforce.

While there are various processes that make up (WFM), here are a few to focus on for maximizing potential during peak seasons.

  • Data consolidation and forecasting: Your BPO provider can utilize stats like historical call-volume data to identify seasonal, monthly, daily, and time-of-day call volume patterns as well as factors like forecasted workload, average call handle times, agent occupancy levels, and time away from the contact center floor for training and one-on-one coaching. 
  • Field service management: Assessing your company’s resources that are currently on-site, such as vehicles, inventory, dispatchers, etc., will be useful in crafting a strategy to offset peak-season workloads. 
  • Performance management: Measure and manage progress from all levels of your business ranging from organization, a specific department, or an employee. This will ensure that the processes in place are helping your team meet demand and handle certain tasks. Additionally, performance management processes allow for an opportunity to identify employee skill sets that can then be highlighted in future work.

Each of these factors essentially analyzes historical data, volume, and ability to respond to demand as a way to intelligently forecast for future workload and can be particularly helpful during stressful time periods like the end of the year. 

What is Workforce Management

When done properly with the right tools, WFM can offer real data that can help your organization make substantial changes that could ultimately lead to long-term and sustainable growth. 

Workforce management processes include items such as:

  • Data collection
  • Field service management
  • Forecasting
  • Recruiting efforts
  • Scheduling
  • Training management
  • Utilizing analytics to make suggestions

As you can see, the list of processes that fall under the workforce management umbrella is quite extensive, and the points above are just the beginning. 

The Importance of Workforce Management

Even before the pandemic, workplaces and workforces have been changing in areas like more flexible schedules, remote workers, and even contingent workers. While being lax and foregoing uniformity may work for your organization, you must still have processes in place that will allow you to make strategic moves to keep your business going forward.

Your employees are your company’s greatest asset, and optimized workforce management processes can help you ensure you have the right amount of team members doing the right job at the right time. Additionally, strong workforce management processes will also ensure that you have the right team member taking on the task at hand. These processes can provide your company leaders with data to ensure informed decisions are made.

As 2021 kicks off, there’s no better time to employ new workforce management processes. Here are some of the trends we’re keeping our eye on this year:

  • Improving Wellbeing in the Workplace: Perhaps the most obvious change/need to come from the pandemic is a more in-depth look at work-life balance. Many workers are looking for more than just balance and instead are interested in work that will support their wellbeing. Team leader training, better collaboration platforms, and agreeing on meeting expectations and norms are all great ways to design wellbeing into your workplace.
  • Use Data to Make New Moves: Many business leaders have utilized workforce management processes to make changes to old patterns. Moving forward, look for ways to utilize workforce management data to create new directions that will set your team up for success.
  • Develop a Solid Company Culture: To keep your team engaged, put more effort into team collaboration, making company values clear, and using data and feedback to improve the work environment. This can help make your team a true embodiment of your brand and retain top talent. 

Benefits of Workforce Management

Efficient workforce management is only possible with an understanding of advanced operational metrics like scheduling, employee behavior, compliance, seasonal patterns, and other key performance indicators. When you outsource your WFM processes and have an experienced partner, you can experience tons of benefits.

The top three benefits of optimized workforce management include:

  • Better-time tracking: Get an understanding of what skill sets may be unique to certain employees, which can help you in future scheduling. Also, ensure that your organization’s time and money aren’t being wasted.
  • Automation: Data from your WFM system can easily be integrated and shared with other systems. Automation options vary amongst industry needs but can be useful in determining if your team could benefit from automating certain tasks.
  • Simpler scheduling: Thanks to forecasting, you can get a clearer picture of staffing needs. Additionally, data from workforce management can also give you the ability to notify team members or management of changes to schedules, plus offer intra-day management opportunities.

There are tons of workforce management software packages available to help your organization achieve its goals. Still, generally, all WFM tools include scheduling and attendance functions, payroll software, and other capabilities that can lessen the burden on your administrative staff. Discussing the software options with your Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) partner is the best place to start improving your workforce management.

Best Ways to Handle Peak Seasons at Work 

While needs across specific businesses and industries will differ, some of the best practices to handle seasonal workforce management are the following:

  • Use forecasting to accurately plan for the peak season. Once you identify the peak season, then budget for it, staff correctly, and train your team in anticipation for this moment. It likely won’t be too difficult to pinpoint when your ramp-up season hits, so use the time to plan accordingly.
  • Allow for flexibility. Data is important, but you must also remember that plans can and likely will change in times of high stress and heavy workloads. Have a business continuity plan in place so that it won’t keep your team down when things go awry. Additionally, you have to remember that peak season may also be a time of high stress for your team members; allowing for telecommunication, work from home or even flexible schedules could help team members be more efficient.
  • Engage your team and ensure everyone is on the same page about what to expect and the contingency plans. Some WFM software has self-scheduling, shift trading, and other helpful tools that can keep your team accountable and in the loop.

The tools and tips above can be beneficial for organizations in the hospitality industry, call centers, transportation, healthcare, and government sectors. Discuss your unique WFM options with your BPO provider to ensure you utilize the best tools to propel your business forward.

Can strong workforce management improve your business during peak seasons?

Well, many businesses would say “yes!” While workforce management systems may differ, they all tackle the important details that your business will encounter season after season. If you’ve noticed your team has struggled during peak seasons in the past, then it may be time to utilize WFM systems. Analyze your company’s current standing, receive helpful data to make better-informed decisions for the future, and stay compliant with local, national, and union laws.

The adoption of better workforce management strategies could be the best move your business can make in 2021. Learn more about how workforce management can help you tackle peak seasons.

DATAMARK Can Help Optimize Strategy for a More Efficient Workforce Environment

Since 1989, DATAMARK has been a leading provider of multichannel customer contact center services, digital mailroom and mail center management, data entry, document processing services, and business process re-engineering services for Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and other large enterprises. 

Let our team of experts develop and implement forecasting and workforce scheduling models and applications and other workforce management techniques to ensure your organization can adequately take on peak seasons. Help your company tackle peak season needs by letting DATAMARK develop and implement the right workforce management processes for your business. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to workforce management, so help your business get ahead and take the next steps by contacting our outsourcing specialists.