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Gain a Competitive Advantage through Workforce Management

By: Stefan Loewer

 

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One of the biggest expenses in starting a business can be hiring and training staff, especially if they prove unsuited to the task and have to be replaced. With a strong and proactive approach to workforce management, it is possible to gain the competitive advantage over your competitors by getting the right staff for the job the first time out.

 
Workforce management is one of the main functions of the human resources manager of any company and yet it does not always get the attention that it deserves. Workforce management actually covers every single process that relates to employees and it is an essential part of maintaining the company’s effective running. One of the biggest aspects of this is of course hiring and training new employees. 
 
Breaking the Cycle
 
However, if the appropriate workforce management strategies are not in place then this can become a vicious and never ending cycle of hiring, training, and firing. This can lead to the company getting a bad reputation due to a high turnover of staff over a short period of time. This can put the company at a very distinct disadvantage compared with competitors who are sufficiently staffed with the right people.
 
The workforce is an important asset for any business and it should be treated as such. If an employer can implement a strong workforce management strategy then it will be much easier to gain a competitive advantage through a great team of employees who know exactly what they are doing. The most common reasons why some companies fail to achieve this are:
 
  1. They have failed to produce a clear standard for all tasks which the employees can follow.
  2. The company lacks a rigid operational structure leading to confusion about responsibilities and leadership.
  3. There are no benchmarks to aim for and little room for improvement or motivation.
 
All of these issues are easily overcome by introducing a workforce management system which can help you to implement an effective training schedule and review system where employees can be praised for good performance or have the sticky areas address in a timely manner. This ensures that only fully trained, motivated staff with a goal in sight are representing the company.
 
Steps toward Grabbing the Competitive Edge
 
It is rare to find someone who really loves getting up to go to their job each day, but if you have the appropriate workforce management systems in place you can get as close to that goal as possible by creating a workplace environment which is good for the employer and the employee alike. It is all about organization and planning so that you can bring out the best qualities in the employees.
 
Some of the basic steps that should be taken include:
 
  1. Create a well defined job description for every role within the company detailing exactly what is expected of the employee and who he or she is responsible to.
  2. Give feasible time scales for each task including estimates where an exact time is not possible to list. This will help staff to get up to the desired level of productivity. This will require extensive training on each task individually and then as combined tasks during the work day.
  3. When employees are released to carry out tasks unsupervised they should already be working at your desired standard of competency. Their performance should be monitored regularly and performance reviews and incentives used to get maximum results.
 
Workforce Management in Action
 
One of the best practical illustrations of how effective workforce management can be of benefit in gaining the competitive edge for your business is how companies deal with seasonal fluctuations in their productivity. It is often the case that at certain times of the year there will be a marked increase in demand for a product or service. This often comes in the summer months when it is bound to clash with staff taking vacations. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those companies who see a seasonal dip in demand at certain times of the year leaving them overstaffed.
 
So what has this got to do with using workforce management to gain an advantage? Simply put, a proper workforce management process can be used to resolve these problems thus saving both time and money by introducing an annualised hours system for employees. Rather than taking a “cross that bridge when we come to it approach,” workforce management encourages systems be put in place to avoid the bridge altogether!
 
Creating and implementing a solid workforce management system starting with the hiring and training process is the first big step in improving the overall performance of your company thus helping you to gain an advantage over your competitors.
 
What are specific steps you’ve taken to manage your workforce most effectively?
 
Stefan Loewer is a writer and business consultant. He writes for a number of blogs on a range of business topics including workforce management. Check this article at Crown Computing about how companies manage season fluctuations in their productivity.
Published: September 20, 2013
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