workforce optimization

What is Workforce Optimization?

Workforce optimization (WFO) is a business strategy that aims to create the best customer experience with the lowest possible operational costs.

Optimizing your workforce isn’t about putting in more hours at work. It's about making the most of the time team members have.

In this guide, we’ll talk about the benefits of workforce optimization, things to think about, problems you might run into, and how to use workforce optimization software.

What are the benefits of workforce optimization?

Workforce optimization can improve a company’s image, their employee engagement efforts, and their bottom line.

More specifically, workforce optimization benefits businesses by:

  • Creating operational efficiencies

  • Limiting operations costs

  • Delivering a better return on investment (ROI)

  • Improving customer satisfaction and retention

  • Improving employee morale and retention

  • Hiring and training new employees faster

  • Uniting teams and eliminating work silos

  • Integrating solutions for e-learning, analysis, accounting, and other essential business tasks

By now, you’re probably wondering how can you start reaping the benefits of workforce optimization for your team. Let’s look at a few examples.

Three examples of workforce optimization

Many industries, departments, and businesses adopt workforce optimization tactics to take their workforce to the next level. While WFO can help almost every company, some industries stand to benefit significantly from a solid workforce optimization strategy.

Here are three industry examples of workforce optimization:

Call centers

workforce optimization in call centers

Call centers and contact centers use WFO to improve customer interactions. WFO lets call center managers develop straightforward plans for handling all calls and processes.

For example, a manager might decide to use an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to improve workflows.

If the IVR can meet the customer's needs, the company has saved time and money while providing excellent customer service. If the IVR can't answer the customer's question, an automated system will route them to the person who can help them.

Workforce optimization can help contact centers' bottom line by:

  • Improving resolution times, occupancy rates, and other KPIs

  • Enhancing operational efficiencies

  • Making the customer experience better

Landscaping businesses

landscaping workforce optimization

Landscaping businesses can save a lot of time and money with workforce management software. GPS, geofencing features, and an interactive dashboard help managers keep track of each member of their field team in real-time.

The on-demand dashboard shows you how much time your team spends at each job site. With geofencing functionality, you’ll never have to worry about missed clock-ins and clock-outs.

You can also plan jobs, routes, and shifts while on the go — creating operational efficiencies and making it possible to help more people in less time.

Software developers

Does your company develop software? With proof of work tools, managers can track mouse and keyboard activity, website and app usage, and billable hours from one central location.

A screenshot of Hubstaff activity reports used for workforce optimization

You can even set pay rates for each developer to make billing clients easier. Managers can then monitor each project with an easy-to-use dashboard. This way, they won’t have to disrupt a developer’s flow state to see their progress.

Workforce optimization tools make it easier to build more accurate project estimates. They can also help you find ways to improve your process.

At a glance, the key benefits of workforce optimization for software developers are:

  • Higher productivity

  • Easier billing

  • Better teamwork

  • Process improvements

  • Accurate and creative project estimates

  • Projects that come in under budget

Six major aspects of workforce optimization

The best way to tackle a large task is to break the work down into smaller pieces. When it comes to workforce optimization, you can group your efforts into six core areas.

1. Employee scheduling

An efficient workforce starts with employee scheduling. One of the most important aspects of WFO is finding the perfect balance between understaffing and overspending.

Employee scheduling tools automate manual scheduling work so you can spend time on high-level, profitable tasks.

2. Time tracking metrics

Time tracking is essential for workforce optimization. Knowing how employees spend their time gives managers an inside look at what's working and what's not.

Time tracking optimization reduces bottlenecks and uncovers strategies to improve workflow and workforce productivity.

With workforce optimization software, managers can make better employee plans, automate timesheets, and keep track of attendance.

3. Employee performance management

Employee performance management is an integral part of WFO. Workforce optimization software lets managers see how employees perform compared to established benchmarks. Leadership can then coach or train staff as needed.

Call recording, especially in customer support settings, lets managers know if there are gaps in product knowledge or service skills.

Attendance software is another way to keep track of how well an employee is doing. It lets the manager know if shifts were late, missed, or abandoned. Some apps may automatically give badges or achievements to employees when they reach specific goals.

4. Getting employees to take on the right jobs

Each employee has strengths and weaknesses, so why not assign their workload accordingly?

WFO tools can help managers place employees in roles that are best suited to their skillsets. Have all of your employees track time to each task. Then, see which assignments each team member excels at. In the future, assign similar tasks to the employees who meet project goals with the highest output and quality.

5. Having the right tools and resources

Employees must have access to the right tools and resources to do their best work.

One example is messaging software that lets remote team members communicate quickly and effectively.

For others, CRM tools are crucial for storing information about specific prospects to make sales calls more manageable and effective.

Giving employees the tools they need will improve employee engagement. By examining activity tracking tools, you can see which websites and apps your team utilizes. These insights show you which software or subscriptions that are going unused and can be canceled to save your budget.

6. Setting realistic goals

WFO is about improving the customer journey.

Setting realistic customer service goals for the team is part of improving resolution times, service levels, and other KPIs.

Many WFO tools offer metrics that can be very helpful when setting these goals and figuring out when you've reached them.

Challenges with workforce optimization

When companies try to use WFO, they can run into some problems.

Industry, culture, and team size are variables you need to consider when it comes to WFO. That said, some challenges are pretty universal.

Here are a few examples:

  • Engaging team members

  • Retaining employees

  • Finding skillset gaps

  • Forecasting customer and staffing needs

Fortunately, the right tools can help you address these challenges.

What is the difference between workforce management and workforce optimization?

Workforce management and workforce optimization are critical components in managing employee performance and organizational efficiency, but they focus on different aspects of workforce administration.

  • Workforce Management primarily concerns itself with operational aspects of managing employees. WFM is often seen as a logistical approach to managing workforce resources effectively, focusing on the day-to-day and tactical scheduling to meet the current demands.

  • Workforce Optimization, on the other hand, is a broader strategy that includes WFM as one of its components but goes beyond incorporating techniques and tools designed to improve workforce performance and engagement. WFO is more strategic, focusing on improving the overall productivity and effectiveness of the workforce through better training, engagement, and leveraging analytics for continuous improvement.

In summary, while WFM focuses on the operational planning and day-to-day management of resources, workforce optimization strategies take a more holistic approach, looking at the bigger picture of optimizing performance for long-term success.

How workforce optimization software can help

With successful workforce optimization, you can forecast how much a project will cost, streamline operational efficiency, and increase workforce engagement and employee productivity.

Hubstaff's tools for tracking time, showing proof of work, measuring productivity, and scheduling employees can help businesses reach their workforce optimization goals.

Here's how.  

Time Tracking

Using Hubstaff to track time is easy. You can start tracking time by project, task, and client. Employees can use the desktop software, the Chrome extension, or the mobile apps on Apple on Android devices. They’ll be able to start tracking time with just one click.


Time tracking is a great way to build a budget, too. You can use employee time tracking data to forecast staffing needs for future projects and generate client invoices.

You can even view and approve time off requests to better gauge employee costs.

Proof of work

Hubstaff software includes both time tracking and employee monitoring features. Managers can look at the websites and apps that employees use or enable optional screenshots if necessary.

The easy-to-use dashboard helps managers see how projects are progressing without micromanaging employees.

It’s important to remember that Hubstaff stresses a transparent approach to proof of work. Both employers and employees will be able to see activity, screenshots, and app usage.

Productivity metrics

Hubstaff's productivity tracker has excellent tools that help employees work more efficiently. As team members work, the software keeps track of their projects and tasks.

Hubstaff delivers metrics to management teams that help them improve productivity and decision-making.

Here are some ways Hubstaff supports workforce optimization:

  • View activity rates and set productivity benchmarks

  • Access time and activity reports to identify inefficiencies

  • Identify time-wasting apps and URLs

  • Compare your workforce data to similar industries and roles

Employee scheduling

The Hubstaff employee scheduling feature makes it easy to create schedules for an entire team. Hubstaff's scheduling tools also help managers plan for employees' time off and alert them about covering shifts. You’ll also be notified about missed or abandoned shifts.

Employers can handle these scheduling tasks from one central dashboard. For field team managers, Hubstaff’s geofencing feature automates clock-ins and clock-outs at each of your job sites.

Utilize technology to optimize your workforce

Hubstaff's workflow optimization software tells managers how employees spend their time. It's a great solution for improving workflows by automating time-wasting administrative tasks.

Hubstaff includes 30+ integrations with your favorite project management, communications, accounting, and help desk tools, like Salesforce and Asana. These syncing features can save a ton of time and headaches. With Hubstaff at center stage, you know your company is on its way to greater and greater efficiency.

Interviews and articles

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CEO Jared Brown talks trust and transparency in appearances on CNBC and TODAY.

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