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“It is equally important to know if we have a happy and engaged workforce as it is to have a profitable bottom line.” (Vern Dosch, Wired Differently)

Managing any workforce, but particularly a large one across many units, sometimes in multiple countries, is far from easy. From your staffing levels and scheduling to making sure your labour costs are within budget and your forecasts are accurate, there are a number of elements involved in ensuring your workforce management is streamlined. There are however fewer areas of a business which are more important to get right if you hope to keep your workforce happy and ensure profitability. Here are 5 tips for efficiently managing your employees.

Streamline Scheduling

Even if you have managed to hire a top team they can’t operate at their best if they aren’t in the right place at the right time. Scheduling where an employee should be, and when, is critical if processes are to be streamlined, costs reduced, and service maintained at the highest levels. Just as bad rotas will cost you money, a good schedule will empower employees and deliver business intelligence. This is not an area in which one should skimp on using technology and it is highly recommended that any modern company invest in good scheduling software.

Although you might be used to spreadsheet scheduling, modern employee scheduling software can save you time, and ultimately money, in your day-to-day operations. These tools allow managers to create schedules with intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces, send push notifications to employees, and update schedules in real time. By creating stability, it also delivers a more pleasant experience for managers and employees alike, which keeps morale high and work moving smoothly.

Further, two-way communication is key. You should not be afraid to engage your staff on scheduling difficulties. Often, being on the floor can give them insights into just where things are bottlenecking. You may also be surprised at how willing staff can be to assist when there is a problem. Simply communicating the business needs to staff and encouraging their input into scheduling preferences can help identify and cover the gaps you are facing. It is also empowering for them.

Codify your company policies

Rules are necessary for the functioning of any business or organisation, but having rules that aren’t written down and made abundantly clear may ironically make it difficult to maintain order and can lead to employees claiming they have been treated unfairly or even discriminated against.

To avoid these issues, it’s crucial that you clearly put all your policies and procedures in writing along with the related consequences for breaking them. This will ensure there aren’t any misunderstandings within your team, and new employees will immediately know what they’re getting themselves into. The stability and clarity brought about by doing this will also take pressure off employees who may feel additional stress if the boundaries are not clearly demarcated.

Pay employees fairly and timeously

Nothing leads to more unhappiness in a business than poor pay or delayed salaries. Whether an employee is full-time or freelance it’s extremely important to make paying them a priority if you want to keep them happy and working at the best of their abilities. Being casual with when you pay your employees will only lead to resentment and underpaying them in terms of your industry will only see you experiencing high employee turnover.

Many companies with payroll issues experience them simply because the people responsible are not experienced, or don’t have the correct tools at hand. Delays can be caused when commissions are miscalculated, tax deductions are incorrect, or hours are input erroneously. The best solution is to bring on a trained and certified accountant or bookkeeper to handle these issues and to give them the right software to ensure the job is done correctly and accurately – your employees can’t focus if they are worried their bills won’t be paid.

Interestingly, recent studies have shown that what an employee earns is not as important for happiness as the benefits they get with that salary. For full-time employees, their salary is only part of their total compensation. The rest is what’s referred to as the benefits package, which typically includes health insurance, paid time off, and sometimes education opportunities. A recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), found that 80 percent of respondents would choose a job with benefits over an identical job with 30 percent more salary but no benefits.

If you want to attract top talent and retain your employees, it’s important to put together a benefits package that will bring candidates to your business over your competitors’. In fact, it’s so important that the Willis Towers Watson survey reported that more than two-thirds of employers surveyed (69%) “plan to differentiate and customise their benefit programs over the next two years.”

Better Forecasting

Great forecasting is one of the key ingredients in your recipe for better workforce planning and management. You already know what your staffing levels should be based upon historic customer demand, but being able to accurately know what they will be in future is even more useful.  Building up accurate forecasts will help you to understand when your peak times of business will be, and whether the company will need more staff in future. Having staff trained and on hand to help when demand increases will mean you are better equipped to keep client service at the proper levels, and that your workforce is not overworked and unhappy. Plus, knowing you may experience a downturn can save money on future retrenchments by not hiring in the first place.

Forecasting for workforce management should look at the number of sales broken down per hour and per employee, the percentage of salary cost compared to sales, your payroll costs and other more nuanced data such as your absence percentage, which encompasses sick leave and holidays, as well as the amount of time it takes to train staff, how large your on-call freelance staff contingent is, and how many part-time workers you have that could be bumped up to full time in a crisis.

When you balance your planned costs against your results, you create the most profitable resource plan. Better forecasting goes hand in hand with smarter scheduling and gives you the data you need to make sure you always have the right people in the right place at the right time.

Stronger Communication  

Communicating with your employees is going to be the best way to ensure your company runs smoothly. Good WFM requires that all expectations, deadlines, and work requirements are adequately and clearly explained to avoid confusion and missed opportunities. With an increasing number of staff working remotely this has never been more important.  

A 2020 report on “The State of the Deskless Workforce” shows that 80% of the remote workforce are contacted by their employer outside of work hours. The report also found the majority of global workers were contacted by their employer via SMS, instant messenger or phone call, which is an easy form of contact, but disrupts employees’ personal lives and makes it harder for them to achieve a work life balance.   

Ultimately, it’s important to find a solution that works for you and your teams that allows you to effectively communicate requirements without crossing boundaries and causing friction. Many large corporates have turned to Zoom, or Teams for meeting purposes as email chains can cause information to become lost. Don’t be afraid to set up a work WhatsApp group or a Slack channel but undertake not to use them out of office hours.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

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