Workforce Management

How to run successful teams when technology has completely changed the game.

Workforce management illustration

The great misunderstanding about workforce management

If you ask someone to define workforce management, they’ll probably say it’s about scheduling your team efficiently and paying correct wages. Those are two important parts of the picture — but not the whole story.

A London restaurant chain can schedule enough staff for the evening crowds, run spot on payroll every time, and still suffer from poor customer service and costly employee turnover.

That happens when a business is missing the final part of workforce management: employee engagement. An engaged team feels valued by the business and is motivated to deliver the very best service.

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So what is workforce management?

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Workforce management (WFM) has three goals:

Workforce management refers to all the tasks required to run an efficient, engaged team. That includes scheduling staff to budget, managing legal requirements, ensuring accurate payroll, and creating an amazing employee experience. Workforce management software can simplify the whole process — and help any business adapt to change.

Three goals of a workforce management system
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History of workforce management

The changing world of workforce management

We’re in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution, which is about as dramatic as it sounds. Modern apps have transformed the way we live and work. Employment laws are about to get more complex across the UK. And the new millennial-dominated workforce expects very different things from their employers.

Workforce management software is how you keep up. With the right solution, a business can attract the best talent, coordinate them to deliver a more profitable service, and navigate complicated legal obligations.

Three essentials Three essentials
for a successful workforce

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number one

Workplace efficiency

  • What do all businesses have in common?

    Whether you run a chain of fitness centres across the UK or a cafe on your local high street, you rely on a workforce to provide a service more efficiently than competitors. But new technology can completely change how you do that.

  • The changing landscape and how you keep up

    Leaps in technology transform how you provide your service and what you need from your workforce. In retail, the move from physical shops to online stores has created lower demand for shop assistants and higher demand for labour in warehouses and deliveries. In healthcare, medical apps make it easier to monitor patients and provide correct medication — but they require new digital training.

    Workforce management software helps companies adapt to any changes in labour demand and organise their staff as efficiently as possible. Using artificial intelligence, they can predict how many employees you need across different roles, then schedule people with the right training, at the right times, to deliver the best service at optimal cost. It’s a beautiful thing.

  • It’s not just about efficiency

    The appeal of this software goes beyond delivering great service and staying on budget. Just as consumers want the instant gratification of online shopping, today’s managers and staff want modern WFM systems because they deliver fast results, are available across their favourite devices, and are actually easy to use.

    When you can order a pair of wireless headphones or a new sofa with a few taps on your phone, suddenly using a time-consuming spreadsheet to schedule employees seems even more inconvenient.

number two

Legal compliance

  • Things are about to get more complex in the UK...

    Making sure your people are paid correctly, or that they don’t work too many hours, can be tricky if you run teams with spreadsheets or pen and paper. And with the government’s Good Work Plan likely to cause big changes to labour laws, things are only going to get harder for businesses that don’t use the latest tools.

  • The changing landscape and how you keep up

    The Good Work Plan sets out a framework for more employee protections and harsher penalties for businesses that drop the ball on their legal obligations. It aims to give workers access to more stable contracts and working hours, more clarity around employment conditions, and more protections around leave entitlements and tips.

    To keep up, you really need two things: a company-wide understanding of your legal obligations and software that helps you put them into action. For example, if you were the owner of a coffee franchise, modern WFM software would help you set up correct leave entitlements, manage the spread of work hours and weekly limits, and streamline accurate wage calculations. All while keeping a secure record for regulators.

  • Employees pay attention

    When it comes to issues of legal compliance, workers are more tuned in than ever. If a business doesn’t keep up with current laws, it leads to viral tweets, widely shared (unflattering) YouTube videos, and negative reviews on Glassdoor.

    A study by the ULPGC found that these reviews have a bigger impact than you might expect. Potential hires trust them more than other endorsements, like industry awards, and negative reviews either turn people away or raise their salary expectations.


Insights from our workforce management experts

Workforce Management Assessment

Workforce Management Assessment

How effective is your current workforce management approach? Our self-assessment can give you an idea of your strengths and weaknesses.
The world of workforce management ebook

Workforce Management

Learn more about the trends that are changing employee management - and how falling behind can cost you money.
Stories and inspiration

More Guides &
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Discover how workforce management is changing your industry. And see how other businesses are transforming their operations.

The software behind high-performing teams

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Employee scheduling

Schedule staff to meet budget and demand. Manage legal requirements with greater ease. And share rotas instantly via web or mobile.

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Time tracking software

Make it easy for employees to record their work hours, take the right breaks, and increase payroll accuracy.

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Workplace communication

Create a space for clear communication, document sharing, feedback, and employee recognition.

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Seamless integrations

Link Deputy with your payroll, POS, or HR software to sync your data and reduce your admin workload.

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Frequently asked questions

  • What is a workforce management system?

    A workforce management system refers to software that helps a business run an efficient team of engaged employees, while staying on the right side of employment laws. With a top workforce management system, managers can create rotas in minutes, record exact staff work hours for perfect payroll, and give employees the tools they need to manage their work lives.

  • What are workforce management tools?

    When we talk about workforce management tools, we’re referring to a range of features that sit within the Swiss Army knife of a workforce management system. This starts with fundamentals like demand planning, employee scheduling, and accurate time tracking for spot on timesheets and payroll. But it goes far beyond that.

    A complete workforce management solution like Deputy helps employees swap shifts when something comes up, stay on top of their work tasks, and communicate effectively with the rest of the team. It also gives them the tools to manage their own availability and leave without the back and forth with management.

  • How does your workforce management system adapt to change?

    Deputy is constantly evolving with the times to help businesses stay efficient, manage legal compliance, and keep their employees happy. How? We listen. We’re always gathering feedback from businesses, employees, and regulators to build new functions and meet changing needs. It’s what we do.

  • What is workforce planning?

    Workforce planning is all about putting the right employees in the right place, at the right time, to achieve your current and future goals.

    Workforce planning starts with forecasting labour demand, i.e. how many employees you’ll need to serve customers, what qualifications they should have, and when you need them. It involves identifying your current workforce’s ability to meet that demand, as well as any gaps that need to be filled through effective hiring and employee training.

    Workforce management software is a key tool for this process. It doesn’t just help a business build accurate demand forecasts: it helps them put their plan into action with quick, intelligent scheduling.

  • What are the benefits of workforce planning?

    Workforce planning keeps your business efficient, competitive, and thriving. It helps you adapt to the ever changing needs of your customers and deliver the best possible service, while reducing unnecessary costs. It also helps managers avoid the stress of chaotic last-minute staffing decisions. What’s not to love?

  • What is workforce management forecasting?

    Workforce forecasting is a crucial part of workforce planning. It’s also a key feature of any great workforce management system. The short answer is, it involves predicting your staffing needs to meet demand at any given time. This helps you deliver the best service to your customer and avoid costly overstaffing or unneeded overtime.

    The longer answer? It involves taking into account a range of demand signals like historical sales data and foot traffic, the weather, and major events to forecast labour demand in the future. This helps you create a work rota with staff coverage and operating costs at the best possible level. Workforce management software can do this with minimum fuss and maximum accuracy for the best result.

  • What is workforce management scheduling?

    Workforce scheduling is one part of a workforce management system. The right software will allow managers to view important information like staff availability, wage costs, and demand forecasts in one place. It will then help them build a perfect work rota and send shift details straight to their employees’ phones and inboxes.

"Deputy has become a vital tool in the running of our business. My time building rosters has been cut to a fraction."
Garry Deakes
Owner, The Marina Ice Creamery
"I was setup and going in minutes. So easy to understand. So intuitive!"
Rami Rustom
IT and Services Professional
"Our admin time for Payroll is one fifth of what it used to be, and with more accuracy!"
Brendon Ford
Manager, Rashay's Pizza Pasta Grill
"Deputy is a cost effective, simple and robust solution for rostering staff and capturing time & attendance."
John Petrovich
Mobile Apps Evangelist, Telstra
"Great application and the customer service is fantastic."
Stephan Price
Director of Ecommerce & Technology
"Rostering and time sheets have never been so straightforward. What a fantastic and innovative tool."
Dr. John Hancock
"Deputy has been the best in delivering their promises. Their interface is amazing and simple to use."
Noelle Flores-Smith
President, Global DN Ventures Corp
"Deputy have allowed me to streamline the fortnightly payroll process."
Rachael Cameron
Payroll Officer, Magic Memories
"Fantastic intuitive time keeping software which works hand in hand with Xero."
Andrew Huntley
Director, Kenney Medical Solutions
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