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Fixing WFM

May 2024

The world and workforce have changed, and it’s time for companies to update their workforce management (WFM) solutions and best practices to better meet the expectations of today’s employees, especially Millennials and the rapidly up-and-coming Gen Z. The most significant issues confronting the world of WFM today are:

Number 1: Companies need WFM solutions that are a good fit for the current workforce, because their needs have changed significantly. The days of creating schedules for fixed and full-time shifts that optimize department performance without taking agent requirements and preferences into consideration are long gone. Similarly, the era of asking agents to change their schedules with little advance notice is past, although this practice was never a good one for employees.

Number 2: Companies need WFM solutions that can accurately forecast and schedule both voice and digital interactions, including conversations that pivot from one channel to another or use two channels at the same time. Workforce management solutions need new algorithms and simulation techniques that properly model synchronous and asynchronous interactions, including traditional back-office work that can take days or even weeks to complete.

Number 3: Schedule flexibility is a critical requirement for today’s employees. Agents want more control over their schedule, including the ability to change their work hours, lunches, and breaks to meet their personal needs. And agents want to manage this themselves via self-service solutions, so they don’t have to ask a supervisor or WFM administrator for permission.

Number 4: Contact centers need real-time, adaptive, intraday management capabilities that fully automate the schedule change process. It is unrealistic and too cumbersome to rely on intraday management modules that identify the changes and then notify supervisors or WFM administrators to make the updates. Instead, companies need a WFM solution that comes with a fully automated intraday management module that determines the necessary changes to address staffing needs and automates the process of applying them. These changes can rely on business rules or artificial intelligence, based on the sophistication of the application.

Number 5: Companies need WFM solutions that address the functional requirements of departments beyond contact centers, including back-office departments, collections, claims processing, credit approval, applications processing, accounts payable/receivable, inside sales, and more. When used properly, WFM solutions enable managers to give their employees scheduling flexibility so they can work the hours (or time increments) that are most convenient for them. This is particularly important for employees who work from home. 

Final Thoughts

Workforce management solutions remain one of the most important productivity tools for contact centers; when the right one is used, it should also be instrumental in improving both the customer and employee experience. Companies need WFM solutions that are designed to address the needs of the largest generation of employees today, Millennials, and the Gen Z-ers who are quickly entering the workforce. Both groups prioritize schedule flexibility and the need to manage their own work times. There is a new generation of WFM solutions in that is entering the market – established systems that have been enhanced and a slew of new entrants – which are being designed to address these requirements. And the cloud delivery model positions enterprises to receive an ongoing flow of enhancements as their needs change. Workforce management truly makes a major contribution to the success of a contact center and the satisfaction of its employees. These solutions can also greatly improve the flexibility and productivity of other enterprise operating departments. If you haven’t looked at WFM applications for the past three or more years, it’s worth the time to review them, as these newer solutions can make a significant difference to your customer, employees and company.