Workforce Management

How workforce management technology can improve performance

Richard Jeffery, group CEO at ActiveOps, explains that when two technologies provide analysis and workforce improvements, insight-driven organisations prosper

Neither employee productivity monitoring (EPM) and workforce management (WFM) are new technologies, although they continue to be improved worldwide.

Yet, they answer to one primary headache faced by business leaders across the board: how to adapt operations to thrive in the new age of unpredictable, volatile markets and workloads.

What is more, they promise a boost to employee productivity and well-being, and the result? A better-performing and more resilient company.

Richard Jeffery, group CEO, ActiveOps


At present, most organisations have grown their ranks of middle management to ensure productivity remains high. This has not worked – and has added cost to organisations. The problem is that managers are bogged down in tasks that get in the way of them doing their jobs effectively.

With EPM and WFM, one extracts data from the workplace while the other uses it to facilitate better business management decisions on workforce deployment and remove the guesswork from monitoring and management processes. They are essentially two sides of the same coin with the aim to reduce the burden that managers have, thus allowing them to gather and analyse information and use data to make better decisions.

Also, EPM and WFM can be implemented as separate technologies and in combination as point solutions – with built-in integrations and APIs – embedded in other applications, such as enterprise resource planning or human capital management systems.

Both EPM and WFM can run in the cloud or within 'on-premises technology estates, much of which, according to technology analysts such as IDC, Forrester and Gartner, will be cloud-based within the next five years.

Monitoring employee productivity 

Activity information can be collected automatically from an employee's desktop, the amount and detail depending on its use. Unlike security-related data collection – right down to keystrokes and screen recording – the time monitoring solutions discussed here will usually stay at a higher level of abstraction.

Employees need to know what activity the company is tracking. Everyone doing the same work can be subject to the same level of scrutiny – assuring employees that monitoring complies with legal and ethical norms.

Usually, the data collected in EPM solutions is time-related, covering application usage, log-on, and log-offs, phone calls, and offline work such as administration or external meetings and probably require manual input. However, real-time collection means that EPM systems can spot and help resolve issues quickly – including problems that have nothing to do with employees' motivation or focus.

By spotting the slowing of work this causes, management can respond quickly using customisable dashboards. This means that work can be reassigned to more productive locations, while investing in higher-quality connectivity for the affected site.

Workforce management for your business 

Allowing businesses control of forecasting and future planning through EPM can enhance overall productivity throughout the company. Such a system can act as a radar enabling teams to monitor activity and areas of improvement, live.

Having a ‘quick view’ of what's going on at any level be it individual, task, team, division or country can vastly improve performance. Some systems have built-in collaboration tools to easily share information with others, including annotating the reports quickly. This speeds up decision-making, allowing a seamless flow of productivity overall.

Business leaders can also create plans based on accurate information and model possible scenarios to evaluate likely organisational impacts meaning decisions based on real data can give insights to skills, availability, and capacity across the board.

Well-being for your teams

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reasonably asserts: "When people feel a high level of well-being, they are more engaged and productive at work."

With workforces becoming more distributed, it is hard for the average company to watch staff well-being. It is a challenge for the HR department or managers to keep in touch and encourage two-way contact between the company and employees to assess the need for interventions.

With a WFM and EPM system, it is possible to spot behavioural changes and take appropriate action.

Making a choice for brighter future

Although EPM and WFM are fundamentally technical solutions, they should be implemented in a way that retains the goodwill of the workforce, except when they are used to observe robotic applications.

Yet, organisations will need to be clear on their objectives to ensure future productivity. Are you solely focused on productivity for your business? Do you need to integrate with other applications and devices through inbuilt connectivity or APIs? You may also need to consider the experience and culture of your vendor shortlist.

In conclusion, the key is to identify the organisational must-haves before selecting an EPM or WFM system for your business. Yet the result for organisations is clear: streamline middle management operations, see better results from managers and enable them to be more agile and, therefore, competitive in the modern marketplace.