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23 workforce management metrics to optimize your operations

From head count to average handle time, here are 23 workforce management metrics you can use to understand your business better and hit your performance goals.

Door Hannah Wren, Staff writer

Laatst gewijzigd February 7, 2024

What are workforce management metrics?

Workforce management metrics are statistics businesses can use to measure, analyze, and optimize their operations. These figures provide information on team performance, employee engagement, and the organization’s overall productivity.

Nearly every successful business engages in workforce management (WFM) to achieve organizational goals. This philosophy drives efficiency across departments, influencing everything from employee scheduling to future benchmarks and initiatives. That said, a WFM strategy will fall flat without properly analyzing and utilizing data.

Workforce managers can use workforce management metrics to optimize their teams, ensure the growth and development of employees, improve organizational processes, and more. This guide details 23 of the most important workforce management metrics you can use to achieve your WFM goals.

1. Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is a measure of how well a company’s products, services, and overall customer experience (CX) meet customer expectations. CSAT is a valuable resource because if your customers are happy, you’re likely doing something right.

You can measure customer satisfaction in several ways, including:

  • Customer surveys: Collect consumer sentiment directly from the source with CSAT surveys, customer effort scores (CES), and the Net Promoter ScoreⓇ (NPS).
  • Focus groups: Hosting meetings with customers in focus groups or advisory meetings can give more context than surveys alone.
  • Social media: Use your social pages to your advantage by monitoring customer comments and conducting polls.
  • Response rate: Metrics like first reply time and resolution time highlight how long it takes to resolve customer issues. The quicker you are, the happier your customers will be
  • Customer churn: Monitor the number of customers that end their relationship with your company to gain insight into areas of improvement.

This is just a starting point to measure CSAT, and you can use any relevant method you see fit to evaluate your customer’s mindset.

2. Head count

Head count is the total number of employees within an organization. This number can be the total count of every individual company-wide or segmented by department or role. By aligning head count with business goals and market demands, organizations can determine if they have the right number of employees at the right time.

3. Attendance rate

Attendance rate, otherwise known as absenteeism rate, measures the punctuality and reliability of your workforce. This metric can be calculated as the percentage of scheduled employees who consistently report to work on time. Monitoring attendance rate helps identify employee performance, whether it’s individuals who are slipping or those who are consistently meeting expectations.

Attendance rate = (Total number of absences / Total number of workdays) x 100

4. Late occurrences

Late occurrences measure instances of tardiness among employees. You can evaluate this on an individual, departmental, or organization-wide basis. Analyzing late occurrences can help you identify punctuality patterns, employee engagement, and potential areas for improvement in your organization.

5. Turnover rate

Employee turnover rate represents the percentage of employees who leave an organization within a specific period. This figure includes voluntary exits, layoffs, and terminations but excludes internal changes like transfers or promotions. High turnover impacts productivity and labor budgets, while low turnover can indicate a stable and satisfied workforce.

Turnover rate = Number of firings or resignations in a period / Number of employees at the start of the period

6. Overtime occurrences

Overtime occurrences represent employees who work beyond their regularly scheduled hours. While some overtime may be necessary to meet demand, consistently high levels can indicate issues in areas like:

  • Workload distribution
  • Staffing levels
  • Resource allocation

Calculate this metric by adding up all instances of overtime in a designated group, whether that’s a certain department or company-wide.

7. Time to hire

Time to hire represents the duration it takes to fill a vacant position. The metaphorical clock starts at the initial job posting and continues until a candidate accepts an offer.

A lengthy time to hire can cause productivity issues and lost revenue, whereas a swift hiring process ensures your organization is fully staffed and efficient. When managers analyze time to hire, they can identify bottlenecks in the recruitment process and streamline operations to make hiring more efficient.

8. Employee attrition

Employee attrition measures the rate at which employees leave an organization over a specified period. While this metric is closely related to turnover, a key difference is that turnover accounts for firings, whereas attrition only focuses on resignations, retirements, and company layoffs.

By understanding attrition, workforce managers can closely monitor their personnel to ensure departments are adequately staffed. If attrition trends in the wrong direction, organizations can implement retention strategies like engaging in employee experience journey mapping.

Employee attrition = Number of employees that resigned or were downsized during a period / Number of employees at the start of the period

9. Employee retention rate

Employee retention rate represents the percentage of workers that stay with their employer over a given period. A high employee retention rate indicates a healthy and satisfied workforce. In contrast, a low retention rate can indicate problems with employee satisfaction, work-life balance, and other important factors.

Retention rate = (Number of employees at the end of a period / Number of employees at the start of the period) x 100

10. Salary distribution

Salary distribution is a bird’s-eye view of everyone’s pay in an organization. Businesses can use this information to examine collective worker salaries and to understand employee pay rates in a specific role, department, or team. Companies can use this data to identify problematic wage gaps, assess whether their compensation is market competitive and more.

11. Revenue per employee

Revenue per employee measures roughly how much each worker contributes to organizational revenue. This figure is important because it can impact profitability and future operations planning and will determine if workforce managers need to implement changes to foster additional productivity.

A higher revenue per employee means a business is operating efficiently, while a low ratio may indicate a change in strategy or employee training is needed.

Revenue per employee = Revenue in a period / Number of employees

12. Utilization rate

Utilization rate is the percentage of time a worker engages in revenue-generating activities. This metric highlights employee productivity, and a higher utilization rate can signify effective time management and resource allocation. Managers can use this information to guide training and development opportunities or make operational changes to increase productivity.

Utilization rate = Total billable hours / Total available hours

13. Tenure rate

Tenure rate is the length of time employees stay with an organization. Businesses can use this information to gain insight into their workforce’s stability and overall employee experience (EX). A higher tenure rate typically means that employees are happy in an organization, while a low rate may indicate companies need to change their strategy or workplace culture.

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14. Unplanned time off

Unplanned time off refers to instances when employees are away from work unexpectedly due to illness, unapproved absences, or other unforeseen circumstances. Managers can evaluate unplanned time off to determine how the organization can proactively respond to an unexpected short-term drop in labor.

15. Planned time off

Planned time off encompasses scheduled PTO, vacations, and other approved leave. Businesses need to know when their employees are taking time off to ensure appropriate coverage and to keep operations running smoothly.

16. Total cost of workforce

Total cost of workforce (TCOW) is the sum of all labor costs, including salaries, bonuses, training costs, internal customer service, and all other relevant expenses. This metric helps organizations determine how much a team or department impacts labor budgets and how to align this impact with organizational goals.

17. Employee productivity

Employee productivity assesses an employee’s or team’s work output compared to their input (or hours worked and resources utilized) in a given period. Businesses can use this figure to determine how effectively employees operate per hour, per week, or across longer time frames.

Businesses can also use it in tandem with other metrics and tools like employee surveys to measure employee satisfaction. The higher productivity is, the more effectively a workplace is operating.

Employee productivity = Total output per employee or team / Total input

18. Schedule adherence

Schedule adherence measures how effectively employees adhere to their assigned work schedule. While it’s similar to employee productivity, the key difference is that schedule adherence measures how much an employee works and how effectively they’re sticking to their schedule, not necessarily how productive they are.

Schedule adherence = Total time worked / Total time scheduled

19. Occupancy rate

Occupancy rate measures the percentage of time employees spend on work-related tasks, specifically revenue-generating activities like handling customer interactions. In the context of a call center, this figure helps organizations understand how much time an agent spends on support-related activities vs. non-support-related activities.

Organizations can ensure productive service and support when employees operate at peak efficiency. A high occupancy rate shows that a business utilizes employees effectively.

Occupancy rate = Time spent on support-related tasks / Total time scheduled

20. Average handle time

Average handle time (AHT) measures the average duration of a customer service interaction. Call centers often use this as a customer service key performance indicator (KPI) to improve operations, as a lower AHT typically indicates customers are getting their issues solved promptly.

Average handle time = (Talk time + Hold time + Follow-up time) / Total number of calls

21. Idle time

Idle time is the amount of time employees are not actively engaged in work-related tasks. While no employee works at 100 percent efficiency, excessive idle time throughout a team or organization can signify workflow inefficiency. Workforce managers can use this figure to optimize work allocation and enhance productivity.

22. Ramp rate

Ramp rate is the time it takes for a new hire to become fully productive in their role. This metric can provide insight into the onboarding process, as a shorter ramp time indicates effective training processes. In comparison, a longer ramp time may signify an organization needs to change its new hire approach.

23. Cost per hire

Cost per hire calculates all the expenses associated with hiring a new employee. This can include internal costs, like HR salaries and onboarding costs, and external costs, like job posting fees and candidate screening tests.

Cost per hire = (Internal recruiting costs + External recruiting costs) / Total number of hires

Why are workforce metrics important to track?

Three icons show why workforce metrics are important to track.

Workforce metrics are important to track because they provide valuable insight into employees, teams, and the entire business. When companies analyze this data, they can make informed WFM decisions and hit their goals—even more so when they combine analysis with workforce management tools and AI.

There are several reasons why tracking workforce metrics is important, including:

  • Increased efficiency: Workforce metrics highlight how a business performs on a team or individual level. With this information, workforce managers can identify areas of improvement and implement data-driven strategies to increase operational efficiency.

  • Informed decision-making: Organizations can use these metrics to understand how their business is trending and to implement future initiatives. If, for example, the average handle time is trending upward, businesses can make AHT a long-term priority to improve customer service processes.

  • Enhanced talent development: Businesses can use figures like ramp rate to identify effective onboarding initiatives and employee productivity to determine training opportunities. This information can lead to continued employee development, resulting in a more capable workforce.

Overall, workforce metrics provide a comprehensive view of organizational performance and can be used to improve every aspect of a company’s operations.

Common challenges when tracking workforce management

A bulleted list details some common challenges businesses face when tracking workforce management.

Tracking workforce management comes with its own set of challenges. A few of the most common include:

  • Data inaccuracy: Inaccurate or incomplete workforce data can skew numbers and lead to flawed analysis and decision-making. Organizations must be sure their figures are accurate for effective insight.

  • Inefficient communication: Communication affects everything in an organization, from how employees do their jobs to how statistics are reported. Good communication helps managers instruct employees on new processes and WFM initiatives, give comprehensive reports to higher-ups, and more.

  • Operational issues: Businesses need to be aware of operational issues that can skew workforce management metrics. Improper time tracking, poor communication, sub-par management, or outdated processes can negatively impact data.

  • Staff shortages: Organizational efficiency is dependent on a functioning workforce. When businesses are experiencing high turnover or resignations, productivity can suffer.

You can address and mitigate these challenges with the right approach, like utilizing a workforce planning template.

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Workforce management is an important process involving everything from employee scheduling to day-to-day tasks. Organizations serious about WFM need to track important workforce management metrics—and to do so effectively, you need the right partner.

Zendesk is proud to announce our acquisition of Tymeshift—a workforce management software built just for Zendesk users that can help you track, analyze, and improve upon essential workforce metrics.

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Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of NICE Satmetrix, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

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