Workforce Management (WFM) Capacity Planning is all about making sure you have the right people hired and trained in the appropriate skill set when they are needed. This type of planning also serves as the basis to complement other Workforce Management processes such as Short-Term Forecasting, Scheduling and Real-Time Management. It’s all about having the right people in the right place at the right time.
In order for this to happen, the WFM Capacity Planning team must have collaborative discussions with the Operations partners to share current trends, changes to forecast potential, rationale and monthly analysis. Given the opportunity, Operational leaders can offer insights on drivers of change in trends as well as action plans or other initiatives that are expected to have results on outgoing forecasts.
4 best practices for optimizing an organization’s WFM Capacity Planning
1. Build a capacity model that allows you to proactively determine when you need to hire and how many people you need to hire. This is typically a monthly projection going out 12-18 months and is used for both the annual budget and the reforecast financial cycle.
2. Your capacity model should not only forecast employee attrition but also the impact of attrition during the new hire cycle. This way you will have the appropriate number of people coming out of the new hire training when you need them.
3. As you develop your outgoing forecast, you will want to ensure you are projecting hiring needs based on your current trends and planned initiatives, not just what you wish the number to be. Far too often, organizations forecast for what they want their full-time equivalents (FTE’s) to be, resulting in the organization being understaffed and all of the metrics going in the wrong direction.
4. Start by forecasting realistically, then formulate a plan to achieve the desired budget. Additionally, a monthly reforecast should be conducted to incorporate recent trends in volume, productivity and overall performance.
New Hire Ramp Strategies to implement now
Thoughtfully designed New Hire Strategies improve time to proficiency, produce better performance results and reduce attrition. Best practice designs include:
Workforce plans that use historical data to predict and forecast new hire inefficiencies
- Plan for higher Average Handle Time (AHT) for new hires as they ramp up their capabilities to the level of incumbent staff.
- Increase contact center shrinkage for training, coaching and unproductive time.
Well-designed curriculum and tools
- Set up an engaging learning environment that prepares agents with the knowledge and skills required to be successful.
- Provide centralized knowledge management systems that enable agents to quickly access accurate answers to guide their actions.
Formal New Hire Transition Program (also known as “Nesting”)
- Reinforce difficult or critical topics by offering micro-training refreshers such as eLearning or off-the-shelf training.
- Arrange for access to immediate assistance, encouragement and frequent feedback.
- Focus on culture immersion throughout the training experience and as new hires graduate into their formal positions.
- Ensure new employees understand the job expectations and the support they will receive to aid them in their success. Job performance metrics should be measured, monitored, discussed frequently and developed with an appropriate ramp to tenured expectations.
- Leverage advanced telephony functionality to route basic calls to new hires until they have the proficiencies and additional training to take advanced calls. Some key areas of focus include:
- Validating that the call types selected provide adequate volume to keep new hires occupied
- Reviewing why calls are transferred and putting actions in place to reduce transfers
For businesses, particularly ones with significant volume spikes during peak season, filling recruitment goals with the right talent is not enough. Proactive planning is required to determine how many people are needed for each workgroup and how each workgroup is staffed. To address how each workgroup is staffed, an organization may consider approaches such as placing new hires into easier call types and then upskilling them to take additional call types and/or augmenting staffing gaps with outsourcer support. One area we see organizations struggle with is peak season preparation, which should include having a clearly defined forecast and a validated approach to staffing all queues in advance of peak season.
Many times, teams focus on achieving hiring targets only to fall short of service level goals as they staff too many people in the easiest call type and then don’t have enough time to get the agents upskilled/trained on the more complex contacts. This is further complicated when entry level employees transfer contacts that they are unable to handle to more tenured staff, thereby increasing the overall workload. The critical component for these complex strategies is ensuring that enough volume is available for the strategy selected, proper training is provided, and a clear pathway to move people into advanced skills is forecasted and engrained in the timeline and approach for peak-season. To achieve a winning peak season, invest in developing a strong new hire ramp Workforce Management strategy. The time invested around recruiting, onboarding, upskilling, and training will enable your staff to handle the right work at the right time.
New Hire Capacity Planning, if it’s done well, almost always has a positive ROI associated with the corresponding FTE as the organization can make hiring recommendations that align to the best timing based on the data analysis of trends. Companies that only do an annual budget cycle, may miss out on the opportunity to save funds in-year based on proactive analysis of Workforce Management trends. Conducting the monthly analysis is where the value is, and proactively planning to account for current trends and develop mitigation plans on risks is an important component not to be overlooked. Contact us to learn more about The Northridge Group’s Workforce Management solutions.