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Seven Tips for Optimizing Workforces

Much of the recent buzz has focused on employee engagement, but companies must also take steps towards optimizing their workforces. Doing this can have a positive impact on the bottom line, lead to increased productivity among employees, and can even boost employee engagement.

1. Optimizing Workforces - begin with a bird's eye view

It’s always good to look at your workforce from a 10,000 foot level to gauge trends and scan for possible signs of trouble. You should know your current headcount, headcount history/trends, number of open jobs, turnover rate, and other basic metrics so that you can see what is going on from a people perspective.

If turnover is high (compared with others in your industry), dig deeper. Could it be a specific department or manager? Many HRIS/HRMS solutions like iSolved HCM offer executive dashboards to highlight these metrics in real time. That allows you to take immediate corrective steps before a problem or trend gets any worse.

While it can sometimes be tough to get information and feedback from current employees, workers on their way out will often be happy to share. Utilize exit interviews to learn how you can prevent further turnover from occurring.

2. Optimizing Workforces - review policy, communicate, enforce consistently

Leaving employees in the dark about company policy can hurt engagement and productivity. Worse still, if policies are not enforced consistently, then you put the company at risk for potential lawsuits.

With all of the new legislation, including minimum wage, MA sick time, parental leave and FMLA, it’s more important than ever to review your handbook and communicate company policy to your employees. Many of these laws require that you post them in a prominent place.

i.e. Suggested MA earned sick time poster

3. Optimizing Workforces - invest in manager training

Managers are on the front lines, interviewing job candidates, scheduling shifts and enforcing work rules. As part of our HR Services (ASO), we train managers on how to properly interview applicants, including what questions they can and can’t legally ask, and develop interview templates to ensure evaluation fairness across candidates.

In specific industries, like restaurants or hospitality, manager training is critical to ensure that wage and hour and overtime rules are properly followed, and that tips are closely monitored and reported correctly.

New areas that deserve specialized training include discrimination (sexual, racial, religious, and ethnic) and retaliation. See related article on retaliation claims. These types of lawsuits are on the rise and pose a great risk to many businesses.

4. Optimizing Workforces - stay in compliance

It’s a full time job staying in compliance with wage and hour and other legislation, and submitting the required reports/forms. Now, more than ever, companies need to leverage technology to pay employees at the right wage, accrue and document sick time properly, administer benefits, calculate which employees needed to be offered health insurance, and to create and provide the required forms to the employee and the IRS. While you can do this manually, it makes much more sense to use technology to automatically calculate, track and populate the required forms to keep yourself out of trouble.

5. Optimizing Workforces - ensure a smooth on-boarding/off-boarding process

Studies have shown that a positive on-boarding process improves employee retention and impacts engagement. From a purely practical matter, it also ensures that the proper documentation, proof of citizenship, and company info like the employee handbook are distributed, signed and stored.

Off-boarding also requires a smooth process to collect company assets, calculate remaining vacation balances for payout and provide the appropriate COBRA notification and options to departing employees.

These important processes can be done manually, but are much easier using a technology solution like iSolved.

6. Optimizing Workforces - utilize ESS and Mobile capabilities

Smartphones are a dominant life tool for many of your employees. Many advanced HRIS/HRMS solutions offer mobile capabilities that let employees view their paystubs and PTO balances, and even submit FSA claims. These are convenient to them – and help to reduce the administrative burden on busy HR and Payroll staff.

Smartphones are the gateway to mobile applications - increasing productivity

7. Optimizing Workforces - pay employees accurately

Nothing that gets employees more upset than a missed or incorrect check. It’s important that your payroll system can properly handle deductions for federal, state and local taxes, health insurance, vision, dental, life, disability, 401k and other options. Some employees may have garnishments applied to their wages. You must ensure that work hours are accurately tracked, pay differentials are applied and that you pay at least the minimum wage for your area. A Time & Attendance system, combined with your Payroll, can provide a seamless system to capture work time, enter absences, calculate work hours and pay accurately.


If companies focus on the areas above, they will be well on their way to Optimizing Workforces for greater operational efficiency and productivity across the business. This will also allow them to focus on specific initiatives to further enhance employee engagement and the employee experience.