What Is Workforce Management and Why Does It Matter?

Group of employees applauding their colleague

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “employees are the backbone of any organization,” and this statement has repeatedly held true. Employees are the key resource for any organization, and managing them efficiently is crucial, particularly in behavioral health and human services. 

In an industry that often provides services across a large geographical area (often in the face of tight budgets), workforce management can be challenging. Fortunately, there are ways to streamline the employee management process by automating many manual and time-consuming functions, including scheduling, timekeeping, and absence management.

So, what is workforce management and how can it benefit your organization? We’ll answer those questions and explain how an integrated workforce management solution can help you improve workflows and achieve financial sustainability.

What Is Workforce Management?

What is workforce management: team applauding their colleague

Workforce management (WFM) describes many aspects of human resources management (HRM). It provides and enforces systems for tracking employees' time and attendance to comply with regulatory standards while helping to reduce errors and improve overall communication across the organization. 

But workforce management involves more than just getting the right people into the right jobs. It also requires training, performance management, and retention strategies to ensure that you have a productive, stable workforce that meets your needs. This leads to the question: What are workforce management systems?

Workforce management systems use automated software and time tracking technology to record when employees come and go from work, as well as how long they spend working on specific tasks (employees can submit timesheets). More advanced mobile workforce management solutions can even track the location of mobile or remote employees to ensure data compliance. 

Why Is Workforce Management Essential for Behavioral Health and Human Services?

What is workforce management: colleagues talking to each other

WFM can help improve the efficiency of your organization by addressing challenges related to workforce planning and management. It helps you understand your current and future workforce needs

For example, millions of Americans live in communities designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), so these populations have too few primary care providers or not enough to meet their needs. This problem is expected to worsen within the next decade because of the increasing demand for health services. 

Workforce planning and forecasting involve reviewing current demands for labor (based on business activity) and projecting future requirements for labor (based on future business activity). The goal is to plan for the number of people needed and what skills will be required to meet future demands. 

When you're able to identify and forecast future needs, you can prepare your workforce for when the demand arises. This is especially valuable in behavioral health organizations because, as populations shift, there are often new opportunities to provide services or expand existing programs that may not have been possible in the past. 

Let’s ‌look at some other benefits of workforce management.

Higher Employee Engagement

Effective workers are productive, engaged, and satisfied with their work. However, poor workforce management can lead to low morale among employees and make it difficult for an organization to reach its mission and goals. Workforce management, with its employee engagement tools, helps you create a culture where your employees feel challenged, valued, and supported.

Lower Operational Costs

An organization's workforce is an undeniable asset, but also its biggest expense. Without a WFM software solution in place, a company may struggle with low productivity or high labor costs due to overstaffing. Managing talent appropriately allows organizations to better anticipate cost increases while they're still manageable. This includes everything from salary inflation to training budgets and attrition rates. 

Better Quality of Care

Workforce management solutions provide real-time information about the number of people you need to fill shifts to keep your organization running smoothly. This prevents gaps in coverage and allows you to make informed decisions about the number of employees you need in different departments or shifts. As such, you can ensure you always have enough staff on hand to provide quality care to patients.

More Employee Productivity

Having a consistent staffing level means that each staff member has more time to perform a task, which translates into enhanced service quality. This can mean shorter wait times for appointments or therapy sessions and faster turnaround times for assessments or intakes. It can even reduce staff turnover rates, as employees are less likely to experience burnout or feel overworked.

Automation and Performance Tracking

Workforce management tools enable tracking for time management. They track employees' hours and manage their schedules while also collecting data on each worker's performance. Some systems monitor individual employee performance while others gauge the average productivity level in a department or even throughout an entire company. 

Greater Profitability 

By having the right talent in place, you'll be able to maximize performance and efficiency. You'll also have fewer gaps in coverage, which means no idle time for those who are on duty. Workforce management tools ensure your organization has enough people with the right skillsets and experience to deliver successful results. 

A Mobilized Workforce

Workforce management is also a continuous process that develops along with the needs of the organization and its employees. It can help your organization understand what your staffing needs are so that you can respond to changes. For example, if there are service demands or there are changes in funding sources, you can easily adapt and find new ways to use existing resources more efficiently.

Workforce management solutions help you determine how many workers are needed to provide services based on the demands of your organization. For instance, if there are too few employees for the amount of work to be done, you can choose to hire more employees or find ways to make existing ones more efficient. 

More Efficient Administrative Processes

Behavioral health providers spend a lot of time on administrative tasks, including scheduling and calculating overtime, addressing attendance issues, and identifying coverage gaps. In a survey of American physicians, psychiatrists' spent the highest proportion of time (more than 20%) on administrative tasks. 

WFM tools optimize staff administrative operations through automation, enabling you to streamline and scale your workforce management process.

Workforce Management vs. Human Capital Management

What is workforce management: employee interviewing applicants

It’s worth mentioning that human capital management (HCM) might get confused for workforce management, but there are distinctions between the two. 

HCM refers to a variety of functions that involve managing a workforce, such as recruitment and training, developing employee performance game plans, and creating employee engagement strategies. Meanwhile, workforce management often involves deploying technology to streamline the workplace and collect data on factors such as attendance, absences, and overtime. 

While ‌workforce management and human capital management are separate processes, both functions are essential to the success of an organization and you should implement them together. Here’s why.

Workforce management deals with the allocation of human expertise based on the needs of an organization and its employees using tools that allow human resource teams to manage the workforce. However, HCM‌ is a system for improving employee performance and efficiency by giving them the tools needed to perform their job skillfully. These tools include everything from performance reviews to behavioral health programs, which improve employee satisfaction and reduce attrition rates.

Human capital management systems help organizations manage human resources, including:

  • Recruitment, hiring, and onboarding of new employees
  • Performance management, including performance reviews and recognition programs
  • Timekeeping and payroll processing
  • Benefits administration (health insurance, life insurance, and retirement plans)
  • Employee records management (e.g., employee information in the form of resumes and credentials)

Now that you have a better grasp of WFM, its importance, and how it fits into human capital management, let’s discuss how to implement the best solution for your organization.

How ContinuumCloud’s HCM Solution Enables Better Workforce Management

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ContinuumCloud's unified, mobile-friendly HCM solution offers workforce management tools all under one roof.

With our solution, your organization can manage its own labor costs by automating processes such as payroll processing, benefit administration, and recruitment. It also provides you with tools that can aid in the decision-making process regarding employee performance and professional development. This eliminates unnecessary administrative work while improving employee experience at the same time.

While the benefits of WFM tools are clear, we also provide support and training for everyone in your organization on how to use the system. 

Improve Your Workforce Management Process

What is workforce management? Ultimately, it’s the methods you use to improve workflows and operations, enhance employee engagement, and achieve financial sustainability — a must in behavioral health and human services. ContinuumCloud offers a workforce management solution that you can easily integrate into your existing systems to reduce operating costs, increase employee productivity, improve customer satisfaction, and boost the overall health of your company. Contact us today to learn more.

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