Solve for time theft (mouse-jigglers), low schedule adherence and more –  Register now →


Workforce Management: A Complete Guide

Team learning about workforce analytics and employee monitoring
A large blue blob on a white background.
A wavy dotted blue line.

What is workforce management?

Workforce Management (WFM) is a set of processes to forecast and allocate resources, track performance, and comply with laws.

Recruiting, onboarding, employee scheduling, workforce planning, and employee productivity are a few of the things that make up workforce management.

In this day and age, there are so many workplace distractions, and not just inside the office. With telecommuting on the rise, mobile workforce management and remote workforce management are now essential parts of the larger workforce management strategy.

Companies are always trying to find new ways to increase productivity without sacrificing the quality of work. So, can you have your cake and eat it, too?

With a well thought out and executed workforce management plan, yes you can. Companies use workforce management systems for everything from scheduling employees to hiring and payroll. Essentially, tools that makeup workforce management systems are designed to help managers cultivate an ideal work environment for everyone, resulting in a more successful company.

Choose where to start:

Why is Workforce Management Important?

A man working remotely on his laptop, a sort of speech bubble is coming out of the laptop and in it is a woman waving.

Workforce management is essential for businesses because the workforce is the company’s most valuable asset. Without a robust workforce management system, a company is far less likely to reach its true potential.

Employers who lack proper workforce management tools and insights may experience:

  • Increased operational costs
  • Low productivity
  • Low employee engagement
  • Higher employee turnover
  • Data breaches

Goals and Key Functions of Workforce Management

Employers have different priorities, but most businesses, regardless of their size or industry, generally share a desire to be more efficient and productive than their competition. At ActivTrak, we encourage businesses to understand their workforce in order to balance workloads, support healthy work habits, and improve overall productivity.

The key functions of workforce management are to improve the following:


While manually creating a schedule can be time-consuming, workforce management solutions provide data that better informs the scheduling process. It’s easier to schedule based on each employee and their needs, including availability, breaks, and holidays. This also helps enable employees to optimize their schedules and identify opportunities for self-improvement by providing visibility into their personal work habits.


Improve schedule predictions and productivity levels for a certain day. Forecasting helps you predict your company’s workload to ensure you have enough employees to handle the amount of work required.

Workload Balance

Identify over- and under-utilized employees to help balance workloads and assess where working hours are spiking or consistently high. You can also identify signs of burnout risk to ensure your organization supports healthy work habits.


Workforce management systems help with budget forecasting and can point to areas where a reallocation of company resources may be needed.


Workforce management systems can be used to manage and track leaves, so HR employees can focus on better meeting individual needs.

Time Clocks

Clocking in and out can be a hassle, and let’s face it: a pen and paper system just doesn’t cut it anymore. Workforce management systems keep track of your employee’s attendance and time worked so you don’t have to. They also help cut down on time reporting inconsistencies.


Employers can have a central place where employee’s work information is stored. This helps confidential information, like bank direct deposit details and insurance policies, stay under wraps.


Compliance tracking is one of the most complicated and potentially costly areas of workforce management. Non-compliance with state, federal, and local employment laws can result in fines and employee lawsuits. Workforce management helps navigate and track regulatory compliance issues that employers face on a daily basis.

Employee Performance Management

The end goal is to encourage those who perform well to keep up the hard work and motivate those who have the potential but need a little help.

Benefits of Workforce Management

When a workforce management system is implemented correctly, that ideal work environment becomes more and more within reach. Your idea of an ideal work environment is unique, but most will agree that the following benefits are highly sought after:

  • Increase in productivity: To get better at something, you have to first measure. Activity tracking features measure the productivity levels of each person. Those can be analyzed, and the manager and employee can collaborate on a better way to get work done.
  • Declining error rates: Payroll and HR are benefited through workforce management automation as error rates are reduced, workflows are optimized, and unnecessary expenses are eliminated. Workforce management automation also helps develop streamlined processes, audit trails, and clear lines of communication to lower error rates generated by miscommunication and manual work.
  • Maximize employee performance: Workforce management helps provide employers with insight into employee engagement, attendance, and productivity, which allows them to adjust training, coaching, and processes for maximum employee performance.
  • Optimize labor costs: Workforce management increases operational agility so that as production schedules and market demands change, companies can easily allocate people with the right skills at the right time to maximize performance. With workforce management, you can better identify where support is needed and measure progress objectively.
  • Lower non-compliance risks: Local, state, and federal labor laws are more easily managed with automated workflows that track employee eligibility and leave balances. New data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA only add to the case for compliance management. WFM recordkeeping is helpful when your company is audited by a government agency.

What are Workforce Management Tools?

Workforce management tools are software solutions that help employers achieve their workforce objectives. The benefits of workforce management software are many, as are the types of companies that use them. From restaurants to financial services, insurance companies, hospitals, and large corporations – all different kinds of companies are realizing positive changes in many different areas of their businesses thanks to implementing WFM software.

Benefits of Workforce Management Tools

Workforce management tools offer a variety of features that enable your organization to optimize workforce management efforts. With a cohesive tech stack, you can improve efficiency, do more with workforce data, and provide a positive employee experience.

Here are some specific benefits:

Business Process Analyzation

Employers can track which computer applications are being used and which aren’t. This data can be used to determine which programs can be eliminated without interfering with an employee’s job. Paying for fewer computer program subscriptions can ultimately save the company money in the long run. Additionally, some tools may be or become inefficient. Understanding technology usage can highlight these inefficiencies and inform decision making.


Data breaches can tarnish an organization’s reputation, not to mention that they can be costly. SecurityIntelligence statistics suggest the cost of a data breach is on the rise, reaching nearly $4 million in average total cost. Workforce management software can track employee behaviors, and that data can be useful in determining when, where, and how a data breach may have occurred.

Increased Employee Productivity

WFM software can help management better understand employee productivity and inform ways to improve it. These solutions provide managers with real-time insights and analytics to guide decision making that increases productivity and efficiency, boosts sales and revenue, and strengthens employee satisfaction and retention. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ship Sticks, a business designed to securely and dependably ship golf clubs, realized a 25% increase in baseline productivity levels after implementing a workforce management software.

Workforce Management Tools for Remote Employees

A woman working remotely at a desk, working on a laptop and holding a steaming cup of coffee.

A remote workforce is a team of employees that work from a location other than a centralized office. Remote workers can also make up an Offshore Workforce or Distributed Workforce. While remote and distributed workforces sound similar, an offshore workforce typically consists of contractors, freelancers, or employees living abroad. Working from anywhere makes for great opportunities, but it also presents unique challenges. As a fairly new concept, many organizations that incorporate a remote workforce will face new and unique challenges.

The three major challenges of remote workforce management include:

When employees are out of sight, it’s common for managers to be concerned about how time is spent. By using cloud-based workforce management software, managers can help with performance management, track productivity, and maintain accountability regardless of an employee’s location. For companies that employ remote workers, a remote work policy is critical. Shockingly, Upwork’s 2018 Future Workplace Report revealed that 57% of companies who have some form of distributed workforce lack remote work policies.

Other benefits of using remote workforce management tools are the ability to establish remote policies, measure their effectiveness, and make the changes necessary for ongoing improvement of your remote workforce. We shared some tips to implement a policy for a remote or offshore workforce, including the importance of adjusting and accounting for time zone differences when scheduling meetings. Remote employees tend to stay longer. At least, that’s the conclusion Hubstaff CEO came to. Employees who work remotely enjoy a lot of benefits, but a study conducted by found that 43% of distributed workers say the biggest benefit of working remotely is a flexible schedule. To continue supporting flexibility, managers need some assurance that work is getting done, even if it’s not between the hours of nine and five. Since remote workforce management software logs activity data, managers can have a better picture of how remote or offshore workers get work done. As shown above, remote work monitoring has many positives.

To avoid potential issues like privacy concerns, we always suggest that companies are transparent about their use of monitoring software. Communicate the type of data, the reason for collecting data, and benefits that are helpful for both employees, managers and the business as a whole. Recognition for hard work, fair performance measurement, and the ability to measure workloads to and distribute them evenly to avoid burnout are just some of the benefits of remote employee monitoring.

What to Look For in a Workforce Management Solution

Ease of use is certainly something to consider in selecting a workforce management tool. You want to make sure that the tool you want to implement is easy to comprehend. If it ends up being too difficult, odds are it will not become a part of your daily routine, nor will it provide the intended benefits. Other things to consider when choosing a workforce management solution include:

  • Enterprise-level security
  • Integrated reporting
  • Time and attendance/timesheets
  • Staff absence management
  • System integrations
  • Demand forecasting

It’s important to remember that no workforce management tool can reconstruct your company in a day, but the more you use it, the more you will get out of it in the end.

ActivTrak is a workforce productivity and analytics software company that helps organizations understand how and what people do at work. Its cloud-based user activity monitoring platform provides contextual data and insights that enable mid-market enterprises to be more productive, secure, and compliant.

Ready to get started? Be up and running in minutes.

Create free account Get started
Watch demo Watch demo