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How to Develop and Implement a Workforce Optimization Plan

Follow our comprehensive guide for insights into understanding, developing, implementing and measuring the effectiveness of a workforce optimization plan.

ActivTrak

By ActivTrak

Wood blocks with employees on them to symbol developing a workforce optimization plan.

Improving productivity and efficiency are a major part of keeping your organization competitive today. This can take planning and forethought, and a workforce optimization plan can make or break your company’s success. 

Follow our comprehensive guide to get valuable insights into understanding, developing, implementing and measuring the effectiveness of a workforce optimization plan made for your business.

Key takeaways:

  • Workforce optimization is a strategic approach to help maximize efficiency and productivity in an organization’s existing workforce
  • Thorough planning, communication and training are all important to ensure a successful workforce optimization implementation
  • There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to workforce optimization, but there are steps all organizations can take to create the right plan for their team

What is workforce optimization?

In a landscape of tightening budgets and increasing expectations, organizations can’t always add headcount to their workforces to meet goals. Workforce optimization (WFO) is a strategic approach to find ways to improve productivity and efficiency with your existing workforce while cutting operational costs. The right methods of workforce optimization will improve output without straining employees, systems or processes. 

Implementing WFO will include an all-hands-on-deck approach from every corner of your organization, including IT, HR and operations. Implementing WFO includes analyzing and improving workforce performance, making sure the right people are in the right roles and putting technology and training to use to enhance productivity and engagement

What is a workforce optimization plan?

Workforce optimization isn’t an organic process and it won’t happen overnight. Instead, you will need to develop a workforce optimization plan with measurable steps to guide them. To develop a workforce optimization strategy, an organization needs to take a good look at its existing systems, policies, technology and team members and compare them to future goals. At its core, a workforce optimization plan helps leaders see where time and resources could be put to better use and gives them a path to doing so. 

A workforce optimization plan can make a big impact on an organization’s costs, operational efficiency and productivity. If implemented correctly, your team can see improvements in productivity, efficiency, technology use and customer service scores, all while reducing costs. Fewer errors, better automation and useful data are also hallmarks of a good workforce optimization plan. 

7 steps to develop a workforce optimization plan

1. Identify business needs and goals

The first step in creating a workforce optimization plan is to “know thyself.” No two organizations have the same needs, even in the same industry. Involve key stakeholders on your team in discussions around your business goals and plans. These objectives could include increasing revenue, reducing costs or enhancing efficiency. It’s important to include your customers in this discussion, too, so you can better define customer experience goals as well as operational goals. You can compare workforce productivity metrics with customer satisfaction reports to see if there are any gaps. 

2. Analyze current workforce performance

After you’ve developed goals specific to your organization, it’s time to see how your organization matches up. Do a thorough analysis of your current workforce performance to find areas of strength and possible improvement. Consider factors like productivity levels, employee engagement, skills gaps and performance metrics. Take a look at current workflows to identify bottlenecks and productivity challenges. This analysis will serve as a baseline for measuring the impact of your optimization efforts and inform your goal setting. 

3. Set realistic performance benchmarks

Establish clear and measurable performance benchmarks that will serve as targets for your workforce optimization plan. As with any goals, they should be specific, achievable, relevant and time-bound. These will vary based on your company and industry, as well as your employee capabilities and customer profile. 

4. Give employees the tools they need to succeed

If you’re aiming to improve employee productivity in your organization, you’ll need to empower your employees with the right technology and tools to improve. Embrace technology solutions that streamline and automate workforce management processes. This may mean time tracking and project management software, collaboration tools and communication tools. Leadership will need access to attendance software and other monitoring tools to measure work hours against completed tasks and find ways to help employees succeed. 

5. Offer training and development

Another aspect of workforce management that you’ll need to consider when optimizing is training and development. This is especially important if you’ll be introducing new tools and technology in your organization. But beyond that, skills development can help your organization grow by retaining and maintaining top talent. Develop a program that helps underutilized employees find more challenging responsibilities and provide employees who may not be realizing their full potential with training. 

6. Focus on employee engagement

Engaged employees are productive employees, and while other data and metrics have roles in your workforce optimization plan, employee engagement should be the star. Find ways to recognize and reward positive employee performance, especially for improvements. Develop programs to improve your company culture and give employees ways to feel that their work is meaningful. 

7. Be flexible when needed

Workplaces aren’t static, and your plan will probably need to change as you implement it. Be prepared to put actionable insights from ongoing analysis to work as you roll out your optimization plan. Take feedback from your employees and leadership teams seriously and address any issues as you move forward. 

How to implement your workforce optimization plan

Once you’ve created your workforce optimization plan, it’s time to put it into action. Here are some key strategies to ensure a successful implementation: 

1. Communicate changes with employees and leadership

Employees and leadership need to understand what changes will be coming their way and why for your workforce optimization plan to be a success. Make sure you’re effectively communicating expectations and changes throughout the process and that you incorporate any feedback. Employee satisfaction is a big contributor to productivity, and it may drop if employees feel frustrated or like they’re being kept in the dark about changes that affect their work. 

2. Carry out changes in phases

It’s a good idea to implement your plan in phases so you don’t overwhelm employees. They’ll need time to get used to new tools, processes and procedures while still completing their existing tasks. At the same time, it can be expensive to implement new software and training can be time-consuming. A phased approach can provide your team with the opportunity to absorb new tools and processes and bring up any issues they may experience. You should also give your leadership team ample time to determine if changes are helping or hindering performance. 

3. Monitor and adjust based on results

It’s important to update your workforce optimization plan periodically based on data. Collect and analyze data on key performance indicators like employee productivity, customer satisfaction and employee turnover. This information will help you identify areas for improvement and refine your strategies for the best results. 

Create and implement a workforce optimization plan tailored to your business with ActivTrak

Develop a custom-made workforce optimization plan with ActivTrak’s Workforce Optimization Software. See productivity metrics across your workforce in real-time to help you make data-driven decisions and power your workforce. Quickly learn if changes are affecting your employees and how. You can also share dashboards with employees to help them monitor their own productivity and work together to find ways to improve. Plus, ActivTrak integrates with your existing technology stack to get a more holistic view.

Request a demo of ActivTrak today and create your workforce optimization plan.  

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