One of the biggest challenges of keeping a team running smoothly, whether it is a group of five or a multi-departmental organization of 500, is keeping track of everything that makes your company tick. With so many moving parts, it can be pretty overwhelming.

Enter workforce management.

There are a ton of options on the market for managing your workforce, whether they are operating remotely, inside the office, or on the field.

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What is workforce management?

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 roll up 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.

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

Increased productivity

Workforce management means assigning the right people 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. And as we all know, clarity is necessary for employee productivity.

This leads to increased efficiency, fewer revisions and missed deadlines, and better quality overall. Being able to get things done quickly without sacrificing quality is critical to organizational growth.

Lower labor costs

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

With workforce management apps, you can set project budgets and avoid spending more time and money than needed.

Improved customer satisfaction

Communication skills can be developed, 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 satisfaction. 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.

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, which can impact their 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 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. Be out there with them, leading the way.

4. Use the best software

The best way to utilize your knowledge on managing teams is to find the best software tools for you.

Technology can provide valuable performance data that you can use to make accurate staffing decisions, such as putting someone in charge of a big project (or pulling them out of one).

The top 6 tools for workforce management

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 productivity software that streamlines workforce management. 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 when and where your team worked. In addition, they can automatically start and stop tracking time with geofenced job sites. Team members simply have to enter specified locations with their mobile device, and Hubstaff will track time to the project.

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

You can set Hubstaff to automatically generate invoices based on the hours tracked and bill 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, and send reminders to members who are late. The app will notify you if anyone misses their shift or leaves early so you’re always informed.

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, and more, and have them 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 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, which 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, and manage budgets.

3. Kronos Workforce Ready

Kronos Workforce Ready

Kronos is one of the most popular and oldest options on the market, having been around for decades.

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.

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 your business, it is fully customizable, a feature users like and describe as flexible. Its ability to operate well on mobile is another bonus for employees and managers constantly on-the-go.

5. 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, which is 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 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 April 2020.