Whether it’s a group of five or a multi-departmental organization of 500, one of the biggest challenges of managing a team is keeping track of everything that makes your company tick. No matter what industry you work in, a large number of moving parts can be pretty overwhelming.

Enter workforce management.

Whether you work remotely, inside the office, or in the field, there are a ton of options on the market for managing your workforce.

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What is workforce management (WFM)?

Workforce management is a collection of processes, methods, and tools designed to optimize your team for maximum productivity. Workforce management can include workload forecasting and projections, budgeting, staff scheduling, time and attendance tracking, and performance monitoring. All of these individual steps factor into your overarching approach to workforce management.

Why is it important?

Employees are the lifeblood of your business. When you have the right processes in place, employees can do their best work. This, in turn, improves customer experience.

Here’s what you have to gain with better workforce management.

Increased productivity

Workforce management means assigning the right workers to the right tasks and giving them everything they need to complete them.

When you combine budgeting time and costs, allocating resources, tracking progress, and scheduling, you’ll have all the details your team members need to do their work well. There are fewer unknowns. As we all know, clarity is necessary for employee productivity.

How to use time blocking to get more done

This leads to increased efficiency, fewer revisions and missed deadlines, and better process quality overall. Being able to get things done quickly without sacrificing quality of service is critical for keeping up with increased demand. Increasing productivity is necessary for organizational growth.

Lower labor costs

Some projects and tasks require more resources than others. The danger is letting a low-priority project consume too many resources.

With workforce management apps, you can set project budgets, forecast and establish realistic staffing levels, and reduce your overall operational costs.

Improved customer satisfaction

Communication skills can be developed by providing adequate training at the right time, but some people are naturals. Workflow management helps you identify strong communicators and product experts in your team so you can put them in charge of customer experience and strategy. Happier customers mean greater profitability.

4 tips for effectively managing a workforce

1. Communicate frequently

It’s been said a thousand times before, but communication should be at the heart of your business. If you’re not communicating, you’re holding your team back.

Team communication transforms your company from a group of individuals into a powerhouse — never forget this. You need to make sure your team members communicate regularly, whether this happens in-person, via email, phone, or video call.

2. Always practice transparency

Whether your business is doing well or needs to rally around a new initiative, you should always keep your team informed about what’s going on.

You don’t need to share every detail with them, but they should be aware of how the business is performing as a whole. Keeping them in the dark may cause employees to feel disconnected. This can impact their engagement and loyalty and put the entire organization at risk.

3. Be a leader they can count on

Leaders don’t just tell their team what they need to achieve and how long they have to do it. Being a good leader or manager means modeling the behaviors you value as a company, giving a helping hand when anyone needs it, and understanding that it’s alright to fail every once in a while.

Don’t be a leader who sits in the back while your team is putting in their best efforts. Get out there with them and lead by example.

4. Use the best software

The best way to utilize your team management skills is to find the software tools that work best for you.

Technology can provide valuable performance data that you can use to make accurate staffing decisions like deciding who to put in charge of an upcoming project.

The top 6 workforce management software tools

Let’s take a look at some of the options out there and see what might work best for you.

1. Hubstaff

Hubstaff dashboard

Hubstaff is a workforce management software solution for remote, desk, and field teams. It has everything you need to maximize your team’s potential — whether they are office-based, remote, or mobile.

Hubstaff’s powerful GPS time tracking lets you see where your team members are in real-time. They can automatically start and stop tracking time with geofenced job sites. Team members have to enter specified job locations with their mobile devices. Hubstaff can then track time to the project.

Accountability is never an issue with Hubstaff’s accurate progress tracking — it records every second, on every project, at every location.

You can set Hubstaff to automatically generate invoices based on the hours tracked and pay rates for each team member. Invoices are easy to create and send right in the app, so you can get paid faster.

Hubstaff has a scheduling feature that’s designed to make team management as smooth as possible. Schedule recurring or one-time shifts for your team, review scheduled shifts in the main calendar view, and send reminders to anyone who arrives late. The app will notify you if anyone misses their shift or leaves early.

After finishing your projects, you can review the data collected by Hubstaff with 17 different reports. You can export customizable reports on time and activities, payments, budgets, employee productivity, and more, and have these insights emailed to you on a regular basis. With Hubstaff, you’re all set to manage your workforce like a pro.

2. WorkForce Suite

WorkForce Suite

WorkForce Suite (formerly known as EmpCenter) is an enterprise-level workforce management software tool that’s aimed at larger companies.

The program is entirely web-based and integrates with a company’s existing programs and infrastructure. One of its most useful features is the Time & Attendance section. This lets companies automate and customize complex pay rules and compliance requirements.

WorkForce Suite also offers managers the ability to create schedules, change and approve timecards, approve time-off requests, analyze productivity trends, and manage budgets.

3. Kronos Workforce Ready

Kronos Workforce Ready

Kronos is one of the oldest and most popular workforce management solutions on the market.

Their sheer size gives Kronos the ability to be constantly adapting and expanding its offerings. Customers have a lot of choice when it comes to the software and the options they want to utilize, meaning Kronos has something for businesses large and small.

Within Kronos Workforce Ready are different modules that companies can utilize to manage everything from scheduling employees to managing timesheets and payroll from one central location.

4. Workday’s Human Capital Management

Workday Human Capital Management

Workday’s Human Capital Management software appeals to a newer suite of businesses that value simplicity and flexibility above all else. It’s been noted as a winner in the HR administration department by independent reviewers and bills itself as the only application to unify HR and talent management.

While the application comes with preset models for different types of organizations, it is fully customizable. For employees and managers that are constantly on-the-go, the mobile app is one of the most important benefits of the software.

5. Paylocity

Paylocity

While mainly marketed as a payroll solution, Paylocity is built with useful features that can help you manage your workforce better.

One of its unique features is Attendance Points — a point system you can use to track schedules. You can identify which team members are often late, taking too many breaks, or are missing shifts regularly. This can help you build a schedule that’s more tailored to your employees’ work habits so they can perform at their best.

6. Calamari

Calamari

Calamari has fewer features than the other apps on this list. It only has two main functionalities: employee attendance monitoring and leave management. However, these are implemented very well, making the app ideal for teams who prefer a compact solution.

What makes Calamari stand out is its support for several ways of clocking in. You can clock in via web browser, with a QR code, or even through Slack. The only thing your team needs to worry about is getting to work.

Next steps for managing your workforce

Whatever app you choose to use, the key thing to remember is that it should make work easier for both you and your team. If it’s causing struggles for either party, then it’s not the right one for you.

Once you’ve found the right solution, take advantage of the information you can acquire from it to know your team better. The decisions you make should be dedicated to the goal of building a highly optimized team. If you do it right, growth will naturally follow.

What app do you use for workforce management? Which features do you prioritize most? Share them with us in the comments section.

This post was originally published November 2, 2015, and updated in April 2020 and August 2021.