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June 22, 2021 | Human Resources | Posted by Jennifer Ho, Vice President of HR at Ascentis

4 Key Questions for Making Smart and Strategic Workforce Management Decisions

How many workforce management decisions do you suppose your HR team makes on a daily basis? Virtually every aspect of their roles, from setting employee schedules to bringing on new hires to establishing time and attendance policies, requires strong decision-making skills. Even the best workforce administrators aren’t getting by on pure instinct, however. Developing an organization-wide workforce management strategy requires high quality data and a reliable plan for gathering, assessing, and implementing that information. We’ve pulled together four questions that every successful professional should be able to answer.

How do you analyze your data?

With very few exceptions, today’s workplace is driven by data. Virtually everything your employees do in the workplace generates measurable data, from clocking in at the start of a shift to completing daily tasks to submitting a request for paid time off. While it’s tremendously helpful to have that much data at your disposal, it can also be a bit overwhelming. Most businesses generate such a high volume of employee data that cutting through the noise and focusing on what matters most for your specific goals requires some careful assessment.

Before you can decide how best to use your data, it’s a good idea to map out exactly what those goals are. Some common workforce management goals include:

  • Increasing productivity
  • Reducing employee turnover
  • Improving compliance with local, state, and federal regulations
  • Developing more efficient processes for scheduling
  • Tracking employee time more accurately
  • Expanding employee training and certifications

Once you know what kind of data you most want to prioritize, a customizable data analytics system can help you zero in on the numbers that will guide you to an informed decision. Be sure to consult with as many potential stakeholders as possible, looking beyond the HR and WFM teams to make sure that you’re delivering results that improve operations across the organization.

What does your current workforce look like?

Oftentimes the first step toward developing the system you want is taking a closer look at the system you have. Understanding your current employees’ needs is crucial to identifying the areas where your organization is most effective, areas in need of some adjustments, and areas that call for more of an overhaul.

Your workforce management system should provide a wide range of valuable data about your workforce demographics — numbers of full-time, part-time, and contingent employees; levels of certification and training; seniority for key roles; average performance reviews; and more. Studying those numbers should help you make an informed assessment of productivity and preparedness across different areas of your workplace. For instance, a demographic audit might reveal that a certain shift has a large number of workers nearing retirement age. That will inform recruitment and training decisions as your organization prepares to replace departing employees.

Where are your biggest skills gaps?

No workforce can be proficient at all things at all times. The dividing line between a top-performing business and a lackluster one often comes down to being able to identify the areas where your organization needs improvement. Analyzing key skills gaps within your organization can inform all kinds of decisions and help set strategies for hiring, scheduling, learning management, and more. Considering that a striking 92% of employers feel that American workers are not as skilled as they should be, it is quite likely that you’ll identify some gaps that need to be addressed. Every business has different processes and skill sets, and a skills gap analysis may look like this:

  • Make a list of key goals your organization wants to accomplish in a certain timeframe.
  • Identify which roles within your organization are necessary to reaching those goals.
  • Identify which skills are needed to fulfill each of those roles.
  • Using performance management and learning management assessments, conduct an inventory of which required skills your workforce already has.
  • Compare your workforce’s existing skill set to your desired skills requirements.
  • Begin to fill in the skills gaps by recruiting and hiring new employees and/or training and certifying existing employees in necessary skills.

What is unique about your company culture?

One-size-fits-all solutions are hard to come by in any aspect of workforce management. The fact is management strategies that work well for other organizations, even those within your industry, may not work for you. Every company has its own unique culture, but not every company is adept at recognizing what that culture is. That can be an important consideration, as turnover due to toxic workplace cultures has been shown to cost American employers more than $40 billion each year.

Taking a true snapshot of your company culture can be a challenge, but your performance management system can be a great help. To get a clearer picture of how your workforce really sees your organization:

  • Analyze performance reviews, 360 reviews, exit interviews, and any other sources where employees provide direct feedback about their roles and their overall feelings about their jobs.
  • Assess productivity data to get a better idea of areas where employee engagement and motivation might be lacking.
  • Give equal weight to both positive and negative assessments — don’t ignore problems, but don’t make them your only focus. Understanding what your company is doing right can be just as informative as areas that need improvement.
  • Develop an action plan for putting your findings to use by addressing problem areas and expanding on successes.

By keeping these key questions in mind as you develop your workforce management strategy, you can increase your mindfulness toward your employees, make more efficient use of the data generated by your WFM tools, and improve the effectiveness of your day-to-day operations. Want to learn more about how workforce management solutions from Ascentis can help inform your workplace strategy? Contact us for a demonstration today!

Jennifer joined Ascentis as VP of HR in 2018. She is a human resources leader with more than 10 years experience developing and growing multi-faceted human resource strategies. Prior to Ascentis, Jennifer led human resources departments for several high growth technology businesses, and has a wealth of experience in talent acquisition, training and development, compensation and benefits, and process improvement. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Management from Minnesota State University, Mankato.