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Table of contents:
As We Approach A New Normal, Are We Optimising Our Most Valuable Assets - Our Staff?
Across all service-centric sectors, a universal maxim is that an organisation’s
most valuable resource is its staff. We exist in a service-centric economy,
one where an effective workforce can and does bring competitive advantage,
and a misfiring workforce can lead to multiple problems that could impact
revenue, operations and customer and employee churn.
Indeed, despite the repeated challenges of the last twelve months, the field
service sector kept rumbling onwards, driven by an exceptionally dedicated
However, as we look forward to recovery, we are now facing many questions
about the future workforce of the future.
Therefore, it is vital to understand what defines best-in-class management of
this most valuable asset, our staff.
To further clarify this picture, Field Service News Research has partnered with
HR specialist solution provider Goodt to broaden this particular study’s scope
beyond the traditional field service sector and into the wider services sector.
In particular, we have expanded this specific study to include retail and
hospitality sectors. In terms of many core aspects of human resource
management, including gamification and managing employee churn, these
sectors have often driven many trends that are becoming more widely adopted
across service-focused sectors.
The key overarching questions we were seeking to answer in this study were:
• What are the key metrics for identifying positive workforce management?
• How are companies ensuring that their workforce is optimised both in terms of finance and productivity?
• What tools are being used amongst service-centred organisations to manage their workforce?
• What does best practice look like in terms of employee engagement?
These questions formed our survey’s basis as we begin to understand what
workforce management may look like in the new normal. To find out more,
Field Service News Research, in partnership with Goodt has undertaken a highly focused research study, talking to over 80 field service management and human resource leaders across the world.
These companies are from various industry verticals, including Manufacturing,
Utilities, Aviation, Pharma, Telco, Med-Tech, as well as retail, hospitality and
The study was held on a global basis so with representatives from all regions of the world.
The study was held across February and March 2021.
Across the following pages, we will begin to look at the key findings of this study and outline the critical early trends of this essential conversation that must be evaluated both within the field service sector and beyond.
The Key Metrics That Define Workforce Management Success
The initial starting point for the study was defining precisely what is considered success within workforce management and, from there, determining the metrics that were being commonly measured to track
To do this, it is important to take a moment to define the difference between a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and a performance metric. Although the two are often used synonymously, they can and should be viewed as very different.
Essentially, a KPI is an instrument to outline how a segment of an organization is moving in line with the broader over-arching business strategies. Most metrics, on the other hand, while providing insight at a divisional or line manager level, usually don’t necessarily align with the organizational strategy.
• Average interviewing cost
• Average length of placement
• Average length of service
• Average salary
• Average number of training hours per employee
are all not examples of KPIs but are examples of workforce management
metrics. They would be helpful for individual HR departments; however, it was
essential to understand the broader KPIs related to this area for this study. The reasoning behind this was that we wanted to assess workforce management metrics that sit as part of broader organizational strategy and, given the horizontal rather than vertical nature of the field service sector and, these more critical topline mertrics would translate to cross-industry best
With this in mind, we gave the study respondents a selection of the following
metrics. We asked them to identify which within this group they measure to
determine their workforce management’s success.
The options were: trade turnover growth, revenue growth, potential lost
revenue, staff productivity, utilization, accuracy of forecast, the ratio of
revenue to labour costs, quality of coverage for business drivers (including both under-coverage (potential loss of sales due to lack of staff) and over-coverage (downtime - overpayment for ineffective time), amount of staff overtime, summary of time and estimate of overpayment and potential losses.
“Over half (53%) of the companies within our response set stated that staff utilization was a critical
KPI that denoted success in their organization...”
As we can see from the chart below (figure 1), perhaps somewhat predictably,
the most critical metric that our respondents identified within workforce
management against this context was staff productivity. While on the surface,
this may be a fairly obvious, it does underline the importance of many of the
areas we will explore later in the study - particularly when we begin to discuss
the importance of employee engagement.
As anyone who has managed a team, whether it be a small group or hundreds, will attest, productivity will consistently be increased when that team is pulling in the same direction and has a shared vision of the mission goal. Fostering agenuine collegiate approach is essential in achieving such unity within a team.
Indeed, this is a challenge that is further magnified, yet even more critical when that team comprises field-based workers who are more susceptible to being isolated due to their work’s remote nature.
One set of trends of particular interest in the study sits around the second most commonly cited KPI our respondents selected. We see that 65% of respondents stated that revenue growth was an essential measure of their workforce anagement programs’ success. There are two interesting facets to this data.
Firstly, it is interesting to note the juxtaposition of revenue growth versus
revenue protection. While almost two-thirds of respondents saw revenue
growth as a measure of workforce management success, less than a fifth
(15%) of respondents stated that protecting against potential lost revenue
was an important KPI. This is interesting, because to a degree, these metrics
are different sides of the same coin. Yet, we included both options within the
question because they do outline whether an organization has a defensive or
Given the pandemic’s ongoing uncertainty, we felt it would be an interesting
bell-weather to see if the overarching mood amongst respondent companies
was of a positive growth outlook or a more cautious protectionist mindset.
In a previous study undertaken by Field Service News Research at the end of
2020, which benchmarked many of the changes ushered into the field service sector throughout the pandemic, we saw that 76% of field service companies, despite all of the challenging marketing conditions, were focused on growth rather than survival. Here in this study, while focusing on an entirely separate area of service management, it is therefore interesting to note again that the metrics of success remain growth-focused.
Another critical aspect for field service organizations to note around thisalignment of financial growth with workforce management is that thereremains a vast untapped potential of revenue growth amongst most fieldworkforces.
Fig. 1: What are the key metrics that you track to measure the success of your workforce management? (tick any relevant)
• Trade turnover growth: 35%
• Revenue growth: 65%
• Potential lost revenue: 15%
• Staff productivity: 76%
• Utulization; 53%
• Accuracy of forecast: 36%
• The ratio of revenue to labour costs: 38%
• Quality of coverage for business drivers: 24%
• Amount of staff overtime: 32%
• Summary of time and estimate of overpayment and potential losses: 18%
Indeed, it has become something of a perennial question for field service leaders ‘how can we leverage the trusted advisor status of our field service engineers and technicians to generate revenue directly from the field?’ While there remains huge debate within our sector about the validity of doing so and how to approach such projects, it is undeniable that the opportunity for increasing revenue streams from field workers is an appealing one. If you are a field service management professional still trying to solve this equation, the newly launched FSN Elite membership platform has a four
and a half-hour course on just this topic, led by Jim Baston, who is widely
acknowledged to be one of the leading thinkers in this area globally.
The course guides you by building a framework of how you could increase
revenue from your field workers. It is the first of several such courses that are
part of the Field Service News Masterclass program and is available for free to all FSN Elite members. To find out more about this, visit www.fieldservicenews.com/subscribe.
Other vital metrics cited by our respondents as necessary KPIs relating to their workforce management programs again dovetail neatly with the often-cited operational KPIs of field service management.
For example, over half (53%) of the companies within our response set stated
that staff utilization was a critical KPI that denoted success in their organization. In a similar vein, the ratio of revenue to labour costs was also highly cited. Almost two-fifths of respondents also selected this as a critical KPI when determining their workforce management programs’ success.
Again this is something that translates well across all service organizations.
Given the remote nature of field service roles and the travel times between jobs, this has traditionally been a challenging KPI for field service companies to improve upon. In one sense, the changes our industry has had to make due to the pandemic could well be something of a blessing in disguise here. In a study in late 2020, Field Service News Research revealed that over three quarters (83%) of field service organizations now have at least some form of remote service delivery capabilities.
If this is adopted effectively, this could significantly impact technician utilization rates and improve two other crucial field service metrics, namely Mean-timeto-resolution (MTTR) and First-Time-Fix (FTF) rates. With each technician’s capacity to serve multiple customers increased, it could also have a significant impact on revenue to labour costs.
Capacity planning is another aspect of workforce management that has proven to be hugely disrupted and very much likely will remain so at least across 2021 due to the pandemic. This will, of course, impact all workforces, whether they be in a fixed location or in the field, as we still manage the challenges of employees needing to self-isolate at any given moment.
Therefore, it is of little surprise that forecasting accuracy is another widely cited KPI, with over a third of companies (36%) citing this as a core KPI.
Optimising Costs Of Managing The Workforce
As we saw in the previous section of this report increasing revenue growth is
a leading consideration for service companies when it comes to assessing
the success of their respective workforce management programs. However,
while revenue generation is vital for solid business development, ultimately, the number one metric that determines business success will always remain profit. As the old saying goes, revenue is vanity; profit is sanity.
Indeed, within the field service sector and in most industries, the most
significant cost factor on a P&L is the cost of labour. Therefore, we wanted to
dive deeper into this area within the study to understand the primary trends
regarding optimizing costs when managing the workforce.
First, we put a simple question to our respondents to assess how significant an issue balancing the costs of labour is within most organizations.
Generally, issues around the optimization of costs within workforce
management fall into two essential categories. We either see an issue with
unnecessary paid for downtime, where workforce costs remain fixed, but
workers are underutilized, or we see inflating costs with overtime being
required to meet demand having an often dramatic impact on the cost of
labour and, of course, the overall profit line of the company.
Therefore, finding a balance to this equation is certainly a primary objective
for all service organizations. However, the study findings would suggest that
this is an objective that is easier said than done as three quarters (75%) of the
study respondents indicated that in normal operating conditions, they saw a
challenge with unnecessary downtime and overwork (figure 2).
For field service organizations, one potential approach to easing out these
peaks and troughs and riding the waves of seasonal demand has been to
embrace the blended workforce model - which is also widely used in many subsets of the hospitality sector, amongst others.
Indeed, this is an area we have discussed at great length on www.
fieldservicenews.com, and FSN Premium subscribers can access a feature-length documentary featuring Ericsson, Electrolux and Ideal Boilers that outlines how the blended workforce can be practically adapted to overcome precisely this issue. The documentary ‘The Blended Workforce and the New Normal’ is available at www.fieldservicenews.com/documentaries.
However, while the use of third-party workforces to accommodate peaks in
demand (and thus allows the employment of a core workforce in line with
lesser requirements) is suitable for organizations who understand the variability of their workforce’s demands, it may not be ideal for all organizations. An absolute must is some form of capacity planning that provides visibility into the challenges that lay ahead so we can adapt accordingly.
Again, the study would indicate that this is another area that few organizations can master successfully. This is particularly evident in the response to the question: Which of the two, overtime or downtime, is the biggest concern?
Interestingly, while slightly more respondents cited over time as the most
significant concern (33% vs 28%), a more substantial proportion of respondents (39%) stated that they swing from one to the other. This would suggest that most service-focused companies within this response set have inadequate foresight into the variability of demand to adjust workforce levels accordingly.
This assertion is undoubtedly supported when we look at whether the response to the question, ‘Do you think there is further room for optimizing costs within the way you run your workforce management?’ Over three quarters (86%) of respondents stated that they felt they could do better in this area. Although as one respondent commented, ‘there is always further room for improvement.’
Fig. 2: In normal operating conditions do you see a challenge with
unnecessary downtime and overwork?
• No: 25%
• Yes: 75%
Placement, Discipline and Churn
When it comes to workforce management, of course, staff placement
alongside corrective measures to avoid poor performance and measuring employee churn is critical. Each of these elements plays a vital role
in ensuring that the workforce remains optimally productive.
With this in mind, we focused one section of questions within the study,
specifically around this area, to better understand the broader trends servicecentric companies have within this field.
To begin, we asked our respondents how they rated their efficiency
regarding the placement of their staff. In this area, the general sentiment
amongst service-centric companies is that performance is above average. All
respondents cited that their performances regarding staff placement were
at a minimum average, with over three quarters (77%) stating that their
organisations’ efficiency regarding staff placement was above average. Further, 14% of respondent stated that their organisation was excellent in this regard.
An interesting side note to remember here is that unlike many studies into
human resources, our response set was not limited to HR professionals but also included service management leaders who occupy a line manager role. This is an essential factor in this finding. While service management professionals may have some input into the placement policies, often, this is as in an influencer role as opposed to a policy-making role. As such, service directors may be more open to commenting negatively on workforce placement than their colleagues in Human Resources as they are one step removed.
Therefore, the consistent nature of positive appraisal for staff placement
within this study does underline that this appears to be an area in which most
organisations and the sector as a whole are confident in their performance.
While in an ideal world, each workforce would be comprised of dedicated
and motivated employees eager to succeed by performing their duties to the
best of their ability, the reality is that for many reasons, such motivation can
wane, and individual performance can dip below acceptable levels. As such,
disciplinary measures are an essential component of the HR mix.
However, how different organisations approach discipline within the workforce can and does vary wildly from organisation to organisation. Within this study, we looked at four of the most common approaches underpinning workforce management and asked our respondents to tick any that apply to their organisation.
• Staff discipline is an opportunity for better training
• There are only so many times you can try to help a poorly performing
member of staff
• It is important to have a clear system in place for staff and HR alike to
• It is important for staff to have clear access to documentation and that it
is easily accessible
Regarding the first of these options (see fig 3 below), almost two thirds (65%)
of respondents agreed with this statement revealing a pervasive culture of
development rather than punishment within workforce discipline.
Fig.3: What is the best way of describing your staff discipline approach: (tick all
that are true)?
• Staff discipline is an opportunity for better training: 65%
• There are only so many times you can try to help a
poorly performing member of staff: 27%
• It is important to have a clear system in place for
staff and HR alike to share discipline: 78%
• It is important for staff to have clear access to
documentation and that it is easily accessible.: 70%
This is perhaps further emphasised when we look at the following option in the list and see that a far smaller number of respondents (27%) agreed with the statement that there are only so many times you can help an underperformingmember of staff. However, when we look at the latter two options and the significant number of respondents who agreed with these statements, we clearly see an important outline of best practice regarding workforce management’s disciplinary aspects.
Firstly, we see that over three quarters (78%) of respondents to this studyagree that it is crucial for there to be a clear system in place which is of benefit to both staff and HR personnel alike. Only slightly less also agreed with the statement that it is vital for staff to have clear access to documentation and that this documentation is easily acceptable.
The one thing that resonates from the strength of support for these two
statements is that transparency within the disciplinary process and across the
whole spectrum of workforce management is vital.
This is further addressed in another question in the study, where we specifically asked respondents if they felt that they had enough transparency in their workforce management processes. Again the research seems to indicate that at large, this is an area in which most service-centric companies are comfortable with their current processes.
In fact, in total, only 16% of respondents answered negatively to this question,
with the large majority of these (80%) admitting that this is an area they were
lacking in. However, these companies equated just 14% of the total response
The remaining 20% (2% of total response set) that answered negatively to this
question stated they were currently addressing their lack of transparency.
At the other end of the spectrum, we see that over a quarter of companies
(27%) state that they believe that there is enough transparency in their
workforce management processes and go further to state that transparency is a major focus for them.
However, the large majority of respondents state that while they currently
believe there is enough transparency within their workforce management
processes, this could be improved. Over half (58%) of respondents selected this option, which is an exciting insight as it reinforces both the continuing need and requirements for clearly documented and accessible processes.
So far, in this section of the study, we have seen some reasonably clear
indicators of harmonisation across the multiple industries reflected within the
response set. However, as we turn to the final aspect of this section of the
study, churn, we see something of a different picture.
As we look at whether our respondents felt their employee churn was well
above industry average, well below the industry average, or somewhere in
between, we see an almost perfect bell curve appear. This would indicate that while there is a robust median in this area (just under half at 47%), as you can see from the graph to the right (figure 4), there is also representation at both ends of the spectrum.
Fig.4: Do you think that your employee churn is:
• Well above industry average: 5%
• Above industry average: 16%
• On par with industry average: 49%
• Below industry average: 16%
• Well below industry average: 14%
We see that almost a quarter (23%) of companies believe that the employee
churn within their business is above industry norms at the upper end of the
spectrum. Of these, 6% feel that their employee churn is well above average.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, we see just under a third of companies
(31%) believe that their employee churn is below the industry norm. Over a
tenth of companies (14%) believe they are well below the average.
One of the most commonly cited reasons for high employee churn is employee burn-out. We asked our respondents if they had any means of monitoring this and pre-emptively acting to stop this brain drain and resolve the issue. When we look at the response set, we that just under half (46%) of companies have such a system in place.
However, as we look at the separate sides of the spectrum within the prior
question, we see that those companies who believe their employee churn is
below industry average are 15% more likely to have such a system in place. In
comparison, those who perceive their organisation as having above-average
employee churn are 17% less likely to have such a system in place.
This particular finding from the study would undoubtedly suggest having an
effective means of monitoring employee burn out and taking pre-emptive
measures is an effective approach to reducing employee churn.
The Tools And Processes Being Used For Workforce Management
Having explored a number of the critical best-practices and trends within
workforce management amongst field service organizations as well as the
broader umbrella of service-centric sectors at large, let us now take a look at
what processes are being used within workforce management in general and
the tools that are in place to drive those processes.
To begin, let us look at how the companies within our response set tackle
resource demand calculations. We asked the study respondents to outline
which of the following was closest to their approach for calculating resource
Expertly based on the sales plan (the relevant director receives a monthly sales plan and assigns people expertly based on experience)
Repeating schedules with fixed sequences of shifts (demand and load arenot taken into account in any way - and the plan is based according totemplate schedules)
Based on basic forecasts for the day (moving average), the monthly plan is broken - based on this information; the director manually arranges shifts – trying to bring more people out on those days where peaks are expected (morning/evening are not taken into account because the forecast is at the day level) - shifts are also mostly cyclical, but individual shift shifts are simply added in the cycle under the peak.
Based on the forecast of turnover growth for a month – turnover growth is converted into the number of available people/hours per month that are available for placement.
The split across these four options was particularly interesting and outlines that there appears to be no one stand out approach when it comes to calculating
resource demand. The respondents to the study showed that three of these
options were equally shared, each selected by 30% of our respondents. The
anomaly was the second option in our list (repeating schedules with fixed
sequences of shifts), listed by just 10% of respondents. (figure. 5)
Fig.5: Which of the following is closest to your approach for
calculating resource demand?
• Expertly based on the sales plan (the relevant director receives
a monthly sales plan and assigns people expertly based on
experience) - 30%
• Repeating schedules with fixed sequences of shifts (demand and
load are not taken into account in any way - and the plan is
based according to template schedules) - 10%
• Based on basic forecasts for the day (moving average), the
monthly plan is broken - based on this information, the director
manually arranges shifts – trying to bring more people out on
those days where peaks are expected (morning / evening are
not taken into account because the forecast is at the day level)
- shifts are also mostly cyclical, but individual shift shifts are
simply added in the cycle under the peak - 30%
• Based on the forecast of turnover growth for a month –
turnover growth is converted into the number of available
people / hours per month that are available for placement -
This would suggest two areas for consideration for the majority of servicebased organizations. Firstly, it indicates that the majority of service-centric organizations face a variable demand for workforce capacity.
The second takeaway here is that it appears that consensus is broadly split as
to which approach is best and could potentially be driven by the planning tools at hand as each of the three methods is based around the interpretation of different sets of data.
However, in the first option on this list, there could be an over-reliance on
individual expertise. On the other hand, the other two options rely on forecast data that can be open to inaccuracies. As we begin to look at the tools most widely used for such planning, the potential for such inaccuracies to become costly errors would seem to be magnified.
We asked our respondents which tools they used within their workforce
planning systems. While there were some dedicated workforce management
planning applications referenced alongside some Field Service Management
solutions that also have capacity planning incorporated within them (solutions
referenced were Kronos, Oracle, Service Manager, Tableau Power BI, Salesforce, and ServiceMax), the overwhelming majority of companies were still reliant on Excel.
While in the hands of experts, it truly is incredible just what can be achieved
with Excel in terms of resource planning, it really should be deemed a legacy
approach to workforce management in 2021. It is labour intensive to import
data, reliant upon and thus capable of magnifying errors in forecasting. It is
notoriously difficult to make changes efficiently and dynamically, as is often
required by workforce management processes.
Across the field service sector, we have seen a massive spike in investments
within digital transformation. As we have seen earlier in this report, effective
workforce management can positively impact both ends of the P&L regarding
cost reduction and revenue generation. Therefore, it would seem that a large
percentage of service-focused organizations could achieve an impressive Return on Investment quite swiftly if they were to invest in a modern, fit-for-purpose workforce management tool.
Similarly, many such tools also offer companies the ability to introduce
gamification elements into their workforce management processes.
Gamification has been proven in many ways within the field service sector, from regional team performance to improving driver behaviour. When it comes to workforce management, gamification can enable employees to earn rewards or recognition for hitting KPIs.
Gamification programs that prove successful are based on the fundamental
principle that people are motivated by different things. For example, some
employees may enjoy competition with their peers. In contrast, others
may prefer to compete only against themselves – seeking to improve their
performance day after day or week to week, etc.
Therefore, to successfully motivate and engage people, gamification programs must incorporate a wide variety of competitive and non-competitive challenges and tangible and intangible rewards. To achieve this, a level of automation and utilization of fit-for-purpose application is recommended. Still, once again, the return on investment that such tools can yield can be significant when measured against the team’s increased productivity, be it in the back-office, the field, warehouse or store.
However, the study reveals that when it comes to workforce management, the introduction of gamification into the workforce management system remains a best-in-class solution, with only 16% of companies stating that they have any form of gamification within their workforce management processes (figure 6).
Fig.6: Do you have any form of gamification in your
workforce management system?
• No: 84%
• Yes: 16%
Interestingly, when we cross-reference the data around gamification with
companies with lower employee churn, we see that those organizations
utilizing gamification are 25% more likely to have an employee churn lower
than the industry average. Further to this, as a follow-up question to the small
group of companies who utilize gamification in their workforce management
processes, we asked them if they had found that gamification had improved
productivity. 100% of respondents answered this question in the affirmative.
With this in mind, the case for those companies still using Excel spreadsheets
to manage their workforce management and resource planning to bite the
bullet and adopt a modern workforce management solution seems compelling indeed.
Employee Engagement and Staff Loyalty
In the previous section of this report, we made something of a compelling case for moving away from Excel spreadsheets as a tool for workforce management and resource planning to more sophisticated tools. We reasoned that doing so could reduce the challenge of downtime and overtime and boost productivity by introducing an element of gamification.
Another area that the adoption of such tools could potentially enhance is
also employee engagement. However, the study data reveals that currently,
this is an area that is already reasonably well served in terms of practical
implementation amongst the companies within our response set. We asked
respondents how effective they believed their organisation was regarding
employee engagement providing a spectrum of response options ranging from extremely effective to not effective at all.
The majority of companies (39%) believed that their organisation was at
least somewhat effective in this area. Just under a third (31%) stated their
organisation was very effective, and a further 14% indicated that they were
extremely effective. On the other end of the spectrum, we saw that 13% felt
that their organisation was not so effective, while just 4% thought they were not effective at all regarding employee engagement.
These findings are essential, particularly for companies operating a field
workforce. By the very definition of the field service role, employees can often feel isolated as they are not working directly with their colleagues daily. Indeed, this has undoubtedly been further magnified by the pandemic. Additional distance from the wider organisation for the field service engineers and technicians could play a further factor in their feeling distanced from the group.
Given the mission-critical nature of the field service role as well as the impact
a productive field service worker can have both on revenue generation (be it
direct or indirect), ensuring the engineer is engaged and happy within their
role should be a primary priority for all companies operating a field service
workforce, as it should for any company with a focus on delivering service
Therefore it is good to see the vast majority of organisations within this study
being at the very least somewhat effective in this area and with nearly half
(45%) ranking themselves as above average in this regard. So what are the
approaches that are being used to drive employee engagement? The most
common method cited in the study was intangible motivation (praise, diploma,
employee of the month, corporate events, etc.) which was used by just under
half (47%) of all respondents.
The second most common response was the basic verbal motivation which just over a third (36%) of companies cited. However, only a little over a tenth (11%) of companies within our study stated they used strictly regulated material motivation, defined in the bonus plans.
Interestingly, the consensus is that recognition and engagement do not need to be necessarily linked to financial remuneration. As mentioned earlier in thereport, this re-enforces much of Jim Baston’s work in generating revenue fromthe field by defining revenue-generating activities as a service activity ratherthan a sales activity. This is one of the foundational points within his coursewhich is available within the Field Service Masterclass program available to ourFSN Elite members.
However, does this match the reality? Our final question in this study was to
ask our respondents on a scale of one to ten how loyal their staff were (with
ten being very loyal and one being little loyalty). The average score across
the whole response set to this question was 7.5 compared to an average of
7.8 for those companies that do use structured material motivation/financial
remuneration. While this does show a small increase, it is so slight that it
cannot be considered a validation that financial reward necessarily aligns with
greater staff loyalty given the significantly reduced number of responses within
It would appear that the consensus in this regard is correct, and smaller, more
personable gestures and communications can be just as effective a tool for
employee engagement as a financial reward.
Fig.7: How effective do you think your organisation is regarding employee engagement?
• Extremely effective: 12%
• Very effective: 32%
• Somewhat effective: 39%
• Not so effective: 15%
• Not at all effective: 2%
Conclusions: The Processes of Workforce Management Are Strong, but the Tools Need Improvement
As we look through this study’s findings, the industry’s overall state
regarding workforce management would appear to be one of relative
juxtaposition. In one sense, many of the critical factors for workforce
management are to be viewed as a successful element of wider business KPIs at large. Yet, on the other, there are many areas where there could be significant improvements that would drive much greater workforce productivity.
The positives are indeed here.
The study reveals that those in workforce management believe that the leaders of the companies represented in this study are overwhelmingly loyal, a statistic that almost certainly is correlated to the fact that these same organizations are at a minimum at least somewhat effective in their employee engagement.
We also saw positive trends regarding the recruitment and placement of new
staff, with over three quarters (77%) of companies stating they are effective
in this regard and a positive approach to discipline focused on development.
Additionally, the study shows that employee churn is generally believed to be in line with or better than industry expectations.
However, one can’t help but feel that there could be so much more
improvement in workforce management if this sector were to turn to more
The three main approaches for workforce management that our respondents
equally cited are all open to flaws that could be compounded by the overreliance on legacy systems, including the go-to tool of choice, Excel.
As we mentioned earlier in the report, it is truly impressive what can be
achieved by an experienced user with Excel. However, the functionality to
empower more effective forecasting, easier adaption of existing schedules, and more effective employee engagement that modern workforce management solutions offer must be considered.
We outlined the difference between true KPIs and other more granular
performance metrics in the introduction to this report. When we looked at
the most prominent KPIs that the respondents widely tracked in this study,
we saw that these were ultimately aligned to the broader organization’s
financials. Revenue growth, reducing costs and ensuring optimal staff utilization and productivity sit at the heart of what is deemed successful workforce management.
Still, the majority of companies struggle with either overtime, downtime,
or swing from one to another - issues that will all negatively impact an organization’s ability to meet these end goals; there is a challenge here.
As is often the case, the solution may well lie within a mix of new technology
implementation and establishing new thinking. We referenced earlier in the
reports the potential shift towards blended workforce adoption, which can be
one significant way to overcome the variability in demand that can be a root
cause of fluctuating costs from overtime and downtime.
However, with many solutions designed specifically workforce management,
including our partners on this project Goodt, being available on a cost-perlicence basis, the first step for many organizations before making a more radical and disruptive change to their workforce strategies should be to explore how they adopt such a solution and what direct benefits this will bring.
Change is often best approached as an iterative step change, and the
introduction of such tools could undoubtedly allow for improved forecasting
and more flexible scheduling on the first iteration, which in and of itself could
lead to a swift return on investment.
However, the study data around the benefits gamification can bring to
workforce productivity would indicate that these initial benefits would be just
the tip of the iceberg. For field service organizations, the technology stack is
already relatively complex. Often there will be scheduling ERP, FSM, CRM and
other systems within the stack. The question is whether adding other systems
into the mix is going to add further complexity.
The first thing to identify is the gaps in your current workforce management
solutions. Many FSM systems have a layer of workforce management
embedded within them, so in some instances, additional tools may be
redundant. Still, in many cases, the critical functionality that can drive employee engagement can be missing.
In a world of APIs and easy integrations, the key is to find a solution that can fill those gaps while sitting within your broader technology stack. In doing so, you can ensure that the most valuable assets in your organization, your workforce, is fully optimized.
We have seen digital transformation across our sector; we need to embrace it
in workforce management as well.
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