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Workforce Management Metrics that Impact Your Organization's Culture

Workforce management or workforce magic? That is the question…

There are several definitions of organizational culture, all mostly stating the same concepts around leadership, vision, values, etc. However, I found Wikipedia’s definition to resonate the most: “Organizational culture is the behavior of people within an organization and the meaning that people attach to those behaviors”. Simply put, organizational culture is how people behave and what people think of the behaviors they observe. Culture is all about behavior and perceptions. Think of it as the company’s personality.

Now, back to the question above: How do you or your employees perceive Workforce Management? Are they just the team that handles all the scheduling or do your employees understand the importance to the success of your company? If you ask around, you’ll likely find people’s perception is “they just do the scheduling around here” or “let the WFM team figure it out”. Workforce Management is your company’s “control tower” that ensures your staffing meets customer demand. In contact centers, there is an abundance of metrics that are measured. Below are some workforce management metrics that impact the culture within your organization.

Adherence: A great forecast and schedule doesn’t mean anything if employees don’t follow it. Schedule adherence is measured by how much an employee actually follows what they are scheduled to do (in a percentage). In other words, it measures the amount of “actual” work are they doing for your organization. This percentage should roll up and be tracked at the organizational or departmental level. Adherence is directly tied to labor costs. If employees aren’t doing what you are expecting, there is an immediate impact on your bottom line. Start by setting an adherence goal, both at the individual contribution level and at the organization level. There is no “industry standard” for this metric. It is all about achieving the optimal balance between planning and execution of the plan. If you don’t know what adherence goal to set, then benchmark your staff. Monitor adherence without making any exceptions. This will provide you with your “true” adherence number as well as provide you the insight necessary to begin improving this metric. Now that you have your goal, it is important that this metric stay pure. It is easy to make exceptions to one’s adherence, but do they really warrant the override? Simply put, exceptions are a waste of time and only demonstrate a failure in the scheduling and planning process. It becomes an artificial measurement that distracts your analysts from better planning and scheduling processes.

Customer Facing Time (CFT): Worried about measuring adherence? Try measuring Customer Facing Time (CFT). Consider this the real adherence metric. Although it doesn’t replace adherence, it is based on phone time, not scheduled time. This metric is easy to measure and communicate with staff the expectations of what they are paid to do. The employee’s primary responsibility in a contact center is to handle customer interactions thus, the metric name - Customer Facing Time. Calculations should be measured daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Here is the calculation on how you can measure CFT:

  • Daily:
       -8.5 Hour Shift = 510 minutes
       -Breaks and Lunches = 60 minutes
  • Weekly Goal of 85% CFT
       -15% of 2550 minutes = 382.5 minutes
       -Each employee has 76.5 minutes per week for additional off phone time for activities such as coaching, meeting, personal break, etc.

Shrinkage: In the contact center, shrinkage is the amount of time that employees are paid, yet they are not available to handle contacts. These activities include: vacation, absents, coaching, training, meetings, out of adherence, long breaks and lunches, and wandering. Shrinkage is a major contributor to missing service level targets. This metric is important to measure and has several factors to consider. First, determine the types of shrinkage in your organization: Negative/positive, discretionary/non-discretionary, unproductive/planned, open/closed, day of the week, shift-specific, and long term “placeholder” factors. After you have identified your organization’s specific shrinkage types, use historical reports to identify how these factors have evolved month-to-month and the effects on seasonality trends. Finally, apply your shrinkage number to identify your total required staff. The most accurate calculation to use is Scheduled staff = Base staff/(1 – Shrinkage Factor). Using this calculation model ensures you are properly staffed to achieve optimal service levels and staffing requirements

Schedule Ratio Flexibility: Measuring schedule flexibility is calculated the following way: Ratio = Required Staff / Actual Staff. Schedule flexibility will help you determine how well you are staffing given the current scheduling period. Most workforce solutions provide a calculator to help you determine your scheduling ratio. For example: if you have 5 shifts for full-time equivalents, average length of shift is 8 hours, average paid hours is 7.5, and average hours spent answering contacts is 7. Your FTE’s needed are 125. If compared to an actual schedule where the FTE’s are 130, your schedule ratio flexibility is 96%. This ratio tells you how well you are staffed compared to available shifts. This information will allow you to determine if adding additional shifts and flexible schedules will help improve your ratio along with increased employee satisfaction and reduced attrition.

Workforce management is complex. No two contact centers are the same. Scheduling and forecasting your staff is an art that has a direct impact on your bottom line, your employee morale, and your customer satisfaction. Adherence is the most commonly used metric in Workforce Management practices. This is also the most underreported metric. Measuring Customer Facing Time allows you to communicate and effectively measure the time people are actually working with customers. Know ALL your shrinkage types. If you don’t know them, you can’t account for them. Lastly, measure how flexible your schedules are. Focusing on these metrics ensures you are positively attributing to the bottom line and affecting your organization’s culture in the best possible way. Don’t leave it to “workforce magic”.