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What is a workforce manager? (+ How to become one)

Workforce managers bring workforce management initiatives to life and ensure processes hit peak productivity. Learn more about these managers in our guide.

Von Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Zuletzt aktualisiert: February 7, 2024

What is a workforce manager?

A workforce manager is a professional responsible for optimizing the performance and productivity of a company’s workforce. This role has a hand in staffing, scheduling, performance monitoring, workforce allocation, reporting, compliance tracking, and more. Overall, workforce managers seek to get the most out of employees and processes to ensure businesses can meet and exceed their goals.

Every group of individuals needs a great leader who can maximize their potential: the Spartans had Leonidas, the Rebel Alliance had Princess Leia, and the T.C. Williams High School football team had coach Herman Boone. These leaders took the competencies of every individual and molded them into a well-oiled machine—an approach that workforce managers emulate every day.

Workforce managers play a pivotal role in an organization by ensuring everything operates at peak efficiency. They make sure that employees are performing efficiently, that everyone is meeting company initiatives, and that the business achieves current and future goals. In this guide, we’ll explain the role of a workforce manager in detail and highlight how these leaders contribute to a successful workforce management (WFM) strategy.

More in this guide:

Responsibilities of a workforce manager

Workforce managers can dictate team and company-wide success in several key areas. Here are some of their primary responsibilities.

A bullet point list of common responsibilities of a workforce manager.

Scheduling and labor forecasting

Scheduling isn’t as simple as jotting some employee names down for next week’s shifts. It’s important for organizations to properly determine how much coverage is needed since too many employees clocked in at one time results in a wasted labor budget. On the other hand, too few agents can negatively impact the employee and customer experience (CX), possibly resulting in overwhelmed workers and long wait times to speak with a representative.

Workforce managers craft employee schedules and monitor timesheets while considering factors like:

  • Upcoming demand

  • Employee strengths and weaknesses

  • Absence management

  • Employee time-off requests

Striking a meticulous balance between staffing needs and demand, managers facilitate productivity and labor cost optimization.

Resource allocation

Business schedules are written in pencil, not pen. Anything can derail even the most comprehensive forecast: Team members can call in sick, equipment can break down, an unexpected wave of customer demand can flood support lines, and anything else you can imagine.

Workforce managers assess suboptimal situations and reassign assets and employees on the fly. They can do this through real-time team management and a commitment to monitoring daily productivity—aspects that help businesses meet customer expectations and maintain team efficiency.

Performance monitoring

Workforce managers need to track daily employee productivity, but long-term performance and trends are just as important. This role requires a strong understanding of key performance indicators (KPIs), data analysis tools, reporting, and—if applicable to the industry—software solutions, like employee experience software and help desk software.

With performance monitoring, workforce managers can assess individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole. This assessment can help workforce managers identify areas or skills that require additional employee training as well as opportunities for new organizational processes.

Reporting

Performance monitoring goes hand in hand with reporting. Workforce managers compile data into weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reports.

These comprehensive reports are presented to business leaders and highlight key metrics like first reply time (FRT), customer satisfaction (CSAT), and ongoing profitability. This data gives organizational decision-makers the information they need to make informed decisions on short- and long-term planning. For example, if your growing customer base is causing increased wait times, you may need to hire more support agents.

Recruiting, training, and development

Workforce managers are involved in the growth and development of employees. This role often has a say during recruitment to ensure the organization brings in the right talent with the necessary skills for the job.

With the help of WFM software and other related tools, managers can also identify tasks employees spend the most time on during the day and suggest individual training programs if an employee is consistently falling behind. Additionally, workforce managers may also identify team-wide training opportunities and suggest new training initiatives or other activities that improve agent productivity.

Plan your WFM strategy with our checklist

A successful workforce management strategy requires multiple moving parts to work in harmony. Download our free WFM checklist to ensure your team achieves its goals today and in the future.

Workforce manager qualifications

Four designs highlight common workforce manager qualifications.

The exact qualifications for a workforce manager can vary between industries and organizations. That said, there are a few standard requirements for this role, like:

  • Education: Employers will often prefer a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field like business administration or human resources. Some senior positions may require a master’s degree.
  • Work experience: Many workforce manager jobs require several years of experience in employee management, operations, and human resources.
  • Skills: Candidates for workforce manager positions should be proficient in staffing, scheduling, and performance management. Additionally, communication, analytical, technical, and problem-solving skills are also highly desired for this role.
  • Certifications: Workforce management certifications aren’t necessary, but they can enhance a candidate’s resume. Organizations like the Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) offer these types of courses.

Aspiring workforce managers should review job descriptions to ensure their skills and experience match the expectations for the role.

Workforce manager qualities

Beyond basic qualifications, there are five qualities that every workforce manager should have. These include:

  • Being data-driven and analytical

  • Fostering creativity

  • Keeping an open mind

  • Anticipating needs

  • Having empathy

How to become a workforce manager

Five designs highlight how to become a workforce manager.

There isn’t a defined pathway to becoming a workforce manager as this role can engage in traditional WFM, call center workforce management, and anything in between. That said, you can take some actionable steps to get started in your chosen field:

  • Do your research: Many industries like business, finance, tech, healthcare, and more all need workforce managers. Research what type of business you want to work for.
  • Obtain a degree: If you don’t already have one, obtain a bachelor’s degree in a relevant business field like management or human resources.
  • Gain relevant experience: Gain relevant experience in related roles after getting a degree. You likely won’t be able to find a workforce manager job immediately, but you can choose a position you can learn from.
  • Develop key skills: Once you secure entry-level positions, focus on building skills like leadership, communication, and problem-solving.
  • Grow a network: Make connections with your colleagues every step of the way. Build a network of individuals in the workforce management field you can get advice from and potentially make connections for a future job.

By following these steps and implementing some of your own along the way, you can work toward becoming a successful workforce manager.

Frequently asked questions

Start your WFM journey with Zendesk and Tymeshift

Workforce managers have a hand in everything, from employee training to scheduling to performance reports. Given the wide range of responsibilities, successful managers need access to the right tools to optimize their performance—something we can help with at Zendesk.

We are proud to announce our acquisition of Tymeshift—a workforce management solution that builds on the wealth of Zendesk CX capabilities to deliver a comprehensive WFM solution.

Start a free trial of Tymeshift today.

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