Every government decision can fall under public scrutiny, and that’s why agencies must maximize the services delivered by their workforces while avoiding unnecessary costs. Because of transparency requirements, agencies have a broad base of information to guide cost-effective decisions.
But large or small, government organizations still run into challenges managing their workforces. Agencies often struggle to balance overtime, part-time and full-time staffing. And nowadays more than ever, with unanticipated events, they also struggle with new citizen needs and an increasingly remote workforce.
So what’s the answer to all of this? It’s held in the years of valuable records and historical data housed at every agency. Workforce management solutions allow agencies to analyze the data behind overtime, absenteeism and historical events. At the end of the day, they help agencies place the right people in the right place at the right time.
Let’s look to a fictional public works department to see this in motion. In this made-up city, the public works department has 100 employees in the field on any given day. There are many four-to-five person crews scattered across the city working on different projects.
Staffing isn’t easy for this department. The agency needs to make sure that the people with indispensable skill sets are in the places they need to be. If an employee can’t make it to work, that complicates the rotation all the more, and it can throw everything out of loop if a crew lacks a necessary skill.
A simple solution seems to be scheduling an extra five floaters, or unassigned employees, to fill in gaps. But if you do that, 40% of the time you would have too many employees, and 43% of the time you would have too few. That means 83% of the time, the department wouldn’t have a balanced workforce.
In most cases, overstaffing to avoid overtime isn’t the best business decision. The goal is not simply to avoid overtime but to control labor costs. Even more, failure to balance these costs is a public relations nightmare.
Explaining to a skeptical public why you need to pay employees seemingly excessive overtime is not an easy press conference — not unless you have data that shows using overtime was actually less expensive than other options.
Without easily accessible data from a workforce management system, justifying decisions – and showing the costs behind them – can be difficult. But with that data, agencies can critically evaluate day-to-day realities. For example, they can see the rate at which people are likely to miss work during flu season.
With these insights, there’s no need to guess. Our public works department will understand that the best way to save costs and make the most of its workforce is to bring in a few floaters in anticipation of some absenteeism, especially in critical roles.
And beyond that, the department can use overtime to flex up workforce capacity. Knowing which roles are critical and what skills are hard to fill can also be tracked by workforce management software. Then, the department can find floaters to replace those skillsets.
The workforce is a government agency’s largest expense. Without the right solutions, leadership is left in the dark playing a guessing game, and managers spend their time fretting over schedules.
But modern workforce management software allows agencies to be efficient stewards of their own time and money, ultimately giving it back to taxpayers. Analyzing overtime, absenteeism and historical events, agencies can make sure that they have the right people in the right place at the right time.
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop Academy’s recent course, “Making Data-Driven Decisions With Workforce Management,” created in partnership with Kronos. Access the full course here.