Each quarter SWPP surveys the workforce planning community on critical workforce planning topics. Over 175 call center professionals representing a wide variety of industries participated and provided insight into this quarter’s survey on the setup of the workforce management team.
The largest group (44%) of the participants are in centers with over 500 agents, but about one-quarter (26%) are working in centers with 200 or fewer agents. This provides a broad mix of contact center sizes. The largest industry representation comes from the financial and telecommunications sectors with a large variety of other companies as well.
Single or Multi-Site Centers
The majority of the respondents (83%) indicate that they operate in multiple locations. This may be multiple companyowned locations or may include an outsource provider. Over sixty percent (63%) of the respondents support one to five centers while 21% support more than 10 sites. Only 17% of the respondents operate within a single center. To some extent this is a function of the size of the agent teams and with 12% of the respondents in centers of 100 or fewer agents, this correlates well. As centers grow, the need for more space, redundancy for
managing risks such as weather patterns and system failures, and/or the contracting of an outsource provider to help can lead to the second and subsequent locations.
Nearly all of the respondents (96%) indicate that they have a WFM team. With even small centers dealing with long hours of operation, multiple shift types for efficiency, and even utilization of skill-based routing, there is an even greater need for dedicated WFM personnel.
Number of WFM Team Members
The number of full-time equivalents working on the WFM team varies widely. Approximately one-third (35%) of the respondents have between one and five team members, but the next largest respondent group (30%) has more than 20 team members. The number of staff will vary with the size of the agent team, the complexity of the operation, and the roles that the WFM team covers. Some WFM groups handle forecasting, scheduling, and intraday management, while others may add reporting functions, ACD and other system management, and a variety of other duties.
WFM Reporting Structure
When asked who WFM reports to in the organizational structure, one-third report to a director or VP of WFM. The next highest number report to the Director/VP of Operations (27%) and then 21% to the Director/VP of Customer Service. However, about 19% report elsewhere in the organization.
The number of non-management FTES on the WFM team aligns somewhat with the total team members. Forty percent have 1-5 non-managment FTEs, while 24% have more than 20 and 21% have 5-9.
Requirements for Non-Management WFM Positions
Recruits for non-management WFM positions are often required to have some specific qualifications. Over half of the respondents (54%) require prior experience in a call center (although not necessarily the hiring center). Nearly one-third (30%) require prior workforce management experience while 11% require a college degree. Having an apprenticeship program for WFM personnel in your center can expand the number of candidates who can meet the requirement for prior WFM experience without having to hire from outside of the company.
Agents Supported by WFM Team
Almost half (83 of 172 responses) of the WFM teams support 500 or more agents. All of the other sizes are quite small in comparison. This tracks with the demographics of the respondent agent groups noted in the first chart above. It is interesting to note that the largest number of respondents (35%) have a ratio of one WFM team member to 51-100 agents. Both the next higher ratio (1 to 101-150) and the next lower ration (1 to 51-100) are relatively even but well below that at about 18.5% each. Some of the teams are thinly spread with one WFM member supporting 300 or more agents. Those reporting one WFM person to 1-50 agents may well be those with very small agent teams.
Number of Work Groups Supported
When asked how many distinct work groups are supported by the WFM team, the answers were quite varied. About 30% reported between one and five work groups. But at the high end, over 20 different work groups are supported by over 20%.
Based on the responses above, it appears that the WFM team continues to play an important role in the operation of the call center. However, the size and structure of that team varies widely depending on the number of agents and sites that are supported and the complexity of the operation. There is no right answer or “industry standard” to guide us on what the best configuration might be. Each organization needs to find the reporting structure and staffing complement that gets the job done that has been assigned to that team. We appreciate your participation in this study and hope that you will participate in our next survey which focuses on forecasting processes.