Workforce Management Reference Guide

A picture of the WFM concept with wooden blocks


This Workforce Management Reference Guide is a comprehensive collection of information on workforce management (WFM).

The Purpose of Our Workforce Management Reference Guide

Our Workforce Management Reference Guide is designed to be your central point of information when looking for anything related to contact centre WFM or resource planning.

With our collection of great content within the field, we wanted to create an easy way for you to access all of our WFM insights.

So, just scroll down to the WFM topic that is of most interest to you and you will find a series of helpful articles, podcasts and webinars.

These pieces of content range from the very basics of WFM to the latest technical insights from industry experts, who have worked with some of the worlds leading contact centres.

In fact, this reference guide is split into many different sections that examine the many aspects of WFM, with shortcuts to each sections included in the list below:

WFM Basics

In the articles listed below, we introduce the fundamentals of contact centre WFM, which you need to know, before moving onto the more complex areas of WFM.

We introduce the fundamentals of contact centre WFM, which you need to know, before moving onto the more complex areas…

What Is Workforce Management (WFM)?

We share the meaning of WFM, discussing all of the duties that a WFM manager would have to oversee when working in the contact centre.

How to Work Out How Many Staff You Need in a Contact Centre

The central part of any WFM professional’s job is to calculate how many advisors are needed in the contact centre at any one time. This article details every little step needed to make this calculation.

Resource Planning: What You Need to Know

John Casey, a Resource Planning Expert, introduces us the resource planning cycle, to help simplify your WFM thinking. (Resource planning is a term used interchangeably with WFM).

Workforce Planning: 20 Fundamental Rules

In this article, we dissect the four key areas of WFM; forecasting, scheduling, monitoring and reviewing – sharing five fundamental rules for each.

Workforce Management FAQs

Do you want to know why spreadsheets may be holding back your WFM plans? Or maybe how new WFM tools can help you out? This article answers both of these common questions and more.

10 Workforce Management Best Practices That You Should Know

We provide ten fundamental pieces of advice that are really helpful to keep in mind when embarking on any WFM-related process.

18 Workforce Management Case Studies

Here is a collection of case studies from well-known organisations detail how they approached the implementation of WFM software to better meet their goals.

An Introduction to… Workforce Management Applications

We discuss some of the most basic applications of WFM, discussing how regularly each technique is used in the contact centre and the benefits of applying each.

WFM Tools

Whether it’s simple spreadsheets or complicated third party software, there are many WFM tools that contact centre planners need to know. These articles identify which tools may work best in your contact centre.

There are many WFM tools that contact centre planners need to know. These articles identify which tools may work best in your contact centre.

Beginner’s Guide to Workforce Management Software

This article looks at the various stages of WFM – forecasting, scheduling, intraday etc. – discussing which WFM tools prove most useful within each WFM “arena”.

17 Resource Planning Tools and Techniques You Should Know

Our panel of experts share their thoughts regarding the WFM tools and techniques that every WFM professional should be made aware of.

What to Look for in WFM Software

Our panel of experts look into many of the useful features that come with third-party WFM systems, which could provide great benefits to your contact centre.

12 Common Mistakes In WFM Software Deployments

To avoid making the same mistakes yourself, make sure that you read this article and be better prepared to install WFM tools in your contact centre.

61 Top Tips for Workforce Management Technology

Here we provide a collection of tips for better utilizing your contact centre WFM tools, to gain maximum benefit from your software installation.

How Are Contact Centres Getting More Their WFM Systems?

In this article we present research across all different sizes of contact centres to gather even more best practices for installing WFM tools.

Expert Advice – How to Better Utilize Workforce Management Software

WFM expert Simon Angove shares his advice for planning for the implementation WFM software, to better forecast, optimise schedules and empowering employees.

Directory – Workforce Management and Workforce Optimisation

This is a listing of reputable WFM vendors that will provide many of the tools that have been discussed in each of these articles.

WFM – Forecasting

Forecasting is the first phase of any WFM process, as it is the method of estimating how many contacts you’ll receive at certain points in time – a topic that we go into great detail on, in each of the articles below.

Forecasting is the first phase of any WFM process, as it is the method of estimating how many contacts you’ll receive at certain points in time…

A Guide to Workforce Forecasting in the Contact Centre

We introduce some of the basics of forecasting, before going into much greater depth in sharing a process for forecasting, using Excel Spreadsheets, in the contact centre.

The Latest Techniques for Call Centre Forecasting

This article looks into the four leading models of creating contact centre forecasts, gaining insights from industry experts and university professors for the particularly sophisticated examples.

How to Calculate Forecast Accuracy

Forecast accuracy is the metric that helps you to determine the success of your forecasting calculations and this article delves into how you can go about measuring this crucial metric.

How to Forecast With Minimal Data

Forecasting can heavily rely on historical data. But, what will you do if you’re forecasting for a new contact centre or a new channel? This article gives you the answer.

The Three Forecasting Timelines Used in Contact Centres

Gemma Caddick, an experienced Forecast Analyst, introduces us to the three timelines that you need to put together when creating contact centre forecasts.

Workforce Optimization: 17 Ways to Improve Your Contact Centre Forecasts

Our panel of experts highlight key ways in which you can improve your forecast, taken from real-life experiences in supporting contact centres.

How to Forecast and Plan for Live Chat

With more great advice from John Casey, we look at one of the more difficult channels to forecast in the contact centre, providing a strategy for planning on Live Chat.

25 Ways to Improve Your Contact Centre Forecasting

We had real-life WFM practitioners write into us and explain how they increased forecast accuracy in their contact centre and we compiled our favourite 25.

Trend Watching: What’s Happening With Forecasting?

In the style of a Q&A, we discuss many of the hot topics surrounding contact centre forecasting, finding lots of new, interesting trends.

Forecasting Contact Volumes Based on Sales Predictions

Philip Stubbs introduces us to a technique called “Linear Regression”, which allows you to create forecasts based on sales projections.

Forecasting and Scheduling for Multichannel Contact Centres

With the contact centre taking on an increasing number of channels, the WFM team is constantly being expected to adjust its practices. This article shares some key advice for doing so.

The Relationship Between Adherence and Forecasting

We investigate the relationship between adherence and forecasting, which is key to understand as a WFM planner, to improve both your forecasting and scheduling.

Experimental Online Call Centre Forecasting Tool

Not only do we have lots of advice for contact centre forecasting, we also have our own tools to help you do so, which – although is at an experimental stage – is already providing promising results.

WFM – Scheduling and Shift Planning

Armed with your forecasts, it’s time to create your schedules. Here’s all of our best advice for helping you do so, with great tips for optimising your shift patterns and schedules.

Here’s all of our best advice for helping you do so, with great tips for optimising your shift patterns and schedules.

Workforce Management Scheduling

We introduce you to the trials and tribulations of contact centre scheduling and suggest why it is not as simple as it may seem at first glance.

Shift Planning – What You Need to Know to Best Engage Your Team

This article introduces the basics of shift planning, including where it fits into your WFM strategy and how it can be better used as a tool to increase employee engagement.

The Best Shift Patterns for the Contact Centre

WFM expert Keith Gait shares his favourite shift patterns to use in the contact centre, with the hope of improving efficiency and advisor morale.

How Do I… Manage and Schedule Multi-Skilled Agents?

Our panel of experts share their thoughts on managing multi-skilled agents in the contact centre, to better improve your WFM processes.

How to Measure Schedule Efficiency in a Contact Centre

With contact centres constantly being told to reduce costs and increase efficiency, this metric helps you to analyse where you are over overstaffing or understaffing – so you need to know to measure it!

The 5 Things Agents REALLY Want From Schedules

Good scheduling can often be the key to employee engagement. This article will show you the five things that you need to have in your schedules to unlock this extra engagement.

How to Schedule Agents Across All Contact Centre Channels

We investigate how contact centres can successfully schedule agents across multiple channels, with lots of helpful advice that can boost your WFM plans.

The Best Ways to Schedule Contact Centre Agents

Our readers share a selection of quick tips that they have found really beneficial in terms of improving their contact centre scheduling procedures.

How to Avoid Schedule Dissatisfaction

We get lots of advice from WFM expert Dougie Cameron on how to lower schedule dissatisfaction and provide advisors with a better work-life balance.

10 Ways to Make Scheduling Processes More Efficient

We went back to our readers to gain even more of their WFM advice, this time about increasing schedule efficiency and lowering absenteeism.

11 Top Tips on Flexible Shift Patterns

This article contains the brilliant thoughts of WFM leaders, each sharing how they have had success in increasingly flexibility, within certain shift patterns, while working with leading contact centres.

Workforce Optimisation: 11 Ways to Improve Your Contact Centre Schedules

Our panel of experts discuss some tried and tested methods for improving schedules, from simplify shift swaps to rethinking your use of shift patterns.

8 Ways to Improve Schedule Adherence

Schedules only work well when your people stick to them, so we created a series of tips for how you – as the WFM team – can support the contact centre in keeping advisors on schedule.

WFM Podcasts

Here at Call Centre Helper, we don’t solely rely on articles to engage our readership, we also produce podcasts like the two below.

These example was created especially to engage the WFM community of planners.

Podcast – WFM Tricks That Will Get You Through Busy Periods

In this episode, John Casey shares great advice to his fellow WFM professionals by discussing how to prevent and manage periods of unexpectedly high contact volumes in the call centre.

Podcast – Resource Planning Advice to Boost Efficiency and Engagement

In this episode, Doug Casterton gives key pieces of advice, learned through great experience, in how to increase resource planning efficiency and employee engagement.


If you don’t have specialised WFM software, an Erlang Calculator is what you will no doubt be using as a key part of your resource planning practice.

If you don’t have specialised WFM software, an Erlang Calculator is what you will no doubt be using as a key part of your resource planning practice.

An Erlang Calculator is a device that allows you to calculate the number of advisors in the contact centre that you need to meet a forecasted number of calls, as well as a given service level and target occupancy.

But, there is much more to this useful tool than what meets the eye…

What Is an Erlang Calculator?

For those who may not be familiar with the Erlang Calculator, this article gives you a complete introduction into its simple calculations and the history of Erlang.

Erlang Calculation – An Introduction

This guide to Erlang Calculations, shows you how an Erlang Calculator is best used, with other advice such as common mistakes to avoid.

Call Centre Erlang Staffing Calculator – v 4.2 – With Abandons and Day Planner

Now this is something special. This our version of the Erlang Calculator itself, which we frequently update to ensure that it is the most accurate, free tool out there.

Erlang C Formula – Made Simple With an Easy Worked Example

Do you want to understand the logic behind the Erlang Calculator? Well, this article teaches you how to understand and apply the Erlang C formula to the contact centre.

10 Things You Need When Calculating How Many Contact Centre Advisors You Need

If you are using the Erlang Calculator, then this article will likely prove to be very useful for you, so you can better understand the logic behind your staffing results.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Erlang A Formula

The Erlang A formula is something else entirely, but it can still be useful for WFM professionals to understand, as this article details.

WFM Metrics

To better quantify the success of our forecasting, scheduling and/or Erlang Calculations, we need to be measuring a series of metrics, like those articulated in the articles below.

To better quantify the success of our forecasting, scheduling and/or Erlang Calculations, we need to be measuring a series of metrics…

Which KPIs Do I Need for Contact Centre WFM?

Here is a quick compilation, as put together by our panel of experts, of all the metrics (otherwise known as KPIs) that you need to be tracking as a WFM team.

Contact Centre Benchmarking – How to Get More From Your Metrics

Justin Robbins, a well-respected industry expert, discusses how benchmarking metrics in contact centres works. This can be a useful tool for WFM professionals to measure the success of new strategies.

How to Calculate Contact Centre Service Level

This article shares a formula for service level, alongside other advice for calculating this key WFM metric in the contact centre.

What Are the Contact Centre Service Level Standards?

Using our own original research, we assess the most common service levels in contact centres across a number of different channels, such as the phone, email, live chat and social media.

How to Measure Average Handling Time (AHT)

AHT is the backbone in of any staffing calculation, so you need to know how to calculate it. Luckily, this article shows you how to do just that.

How do I Calculate… Schedule Adherence?

For your WFM plans and schedules to be effective, advisors need to adhere to schedules. This article will show you how to measure the metric and see how well advisors are sticking to your plans.

How to Calculate Occupancy

Occupancy is another key input into the Erlang Calculator and this article will give you all the knowledge that you need to calculate a percentage occupancy for your contact centre.

How to Calculate Utilisation

As a WFM planner, you need to know all of your business costs considerations. Utilisation is a key metric here and you can find out how to calculate it in this article.

What Is the Difference Between Occupancy and Utilisation?

The calculations for occupancy and utilisation are often confused, but this article helps allay any such misunderstandings, clearly separating the two metrics in terms of definition and calculation.

How to Calculate Attrition Rate – The Formula

This article not only gives you a formula for calculating attrition in the contact centre, but also expert advice for lowering it from Dougie Cameron.

How to Calculate Absenteeism

Martin Jukes, an experienced industry expert, gives a step-by-step guide for calculating and reducing absenteeism in the contact centre, to ensure WFM plans are properly carried-out.

How to Measure Call Abandon Rate

Is your service level appropriate for your contact centre? You can find this out and much more by calculating call abandon rate, as shown in this article.

How to Calculate Customer Churn Rate – the Formula

This article helps us to calculate how quickly customers are leaving your organisation, which enables us to calculate lifetime value and measure business performance.

How to Calculate Contact Centre Spin

In this article, we investigate the mysterious metric of contact centre spin and how to calculate it, with inputs from a number of WFM professionals.

WFM and Workforce Optimisation

Workforce optimisation (WFO) is a topic that links in very well with WFM and planners should keep up to date with the latest in the field, including insights included in the articles below.

Workforce optimisation (WFO) is a topic that links in very well with WFM and planners should keep up to date with the latest in the field…

Next Generation Workforce Optimisation

After defining what is meant by next generation WFO, this article goes into great detail to explain how contact centres are employing technology to improve WFM.

What to Look for When Buying a Workforce Optimisation Solution

If you’re interested in employing a WFO solution, this is the article for you, as it details all of the great features that you should look out for, within your new system.

18 Tips for Optimising Workforce Management

Our readers share their tips for optimising WFM in the contact centre, with tips ranging from improving schedules and forecasts to handling tricky peak management scenarios.

28 Ways to Optimise Agent Scheduling

Are you looking for even more tips for optimising WFM from real-life practitioners? Well then, this article might just be what you’re looking for.

The WFM Team

Are you looking for insights into the role that WFM teams plays in the contact centre overall? Well then, each of the following four articles will likely be able to provide you with the answers that you are looking for.

Are you looking for insights into the role that WFM teams plays in the contact centre overall?…  each of the following four articles will likely be able to provide you with the answers

The Role of a Planning Team

We share a whole host of original research that looks into how different WFM teams operate in different contact centres and how many of their priorities and responsibilities change.

Resource Planning Manager: Example Job Description

Douglas Jackson and Cactus Search, two well-respected recruiters that specialise in contact centres, share examples of jobs descriptions for Contact Centre WFM Managers.

Forecasting and Scheduling Home Based Agents

We take you through some of the challenges of planning for homeworkers, before putting forward some practical solutions for how to overcome them.

How to Get Buy-In for… Workforce Management (WFM) Software

Our panel of experts share their advice for gaining organisational buy-in for WFM technology, that will make your job as a Resource Planner much less complex.

WFM Considerations

There’s a lot more to WFM than just forecasting and scheduling. Just take a look at some of the topics discussed in the articles below, for example.

Close up photo of interested dreamy mulatto girl think thoughts about future plan, weekends wear casual clothes isolated over blue color background

Is 80/20 Still a Reasonable Service Level?

80/20 is the traditional service level that many contact centres stick to as a WFM principle. Yet, this article investigates whether or not this 80/20 mark may be the best target for your contact centre.

How Far in Advance Should You Publish Your Contact Centre Shifts?

We take a look at the optimum time to publish contact centre shifts, taking into account the various natures of different contact centres, in order to balance efficiency with employee engagement.

12 Top Tips for Intraday Management in the Contact Centre

To best action our WFM plans, we have lots of real-time considerations that we may need to make, across the course of the day. This article may prove helpful in better informing these decisions.

Create Room to Breathe Instead of Making Knee-Jerk Reactions

When contact volumes are not as expected, WFM planners need to know the optimal moment to bring in reinforcement. This article shares some helpful advice for knowing when to make this critical decision.

What Is Holding Back Workforce Management?

There are many misconceptions surrounding WFM, which Simon Angove unpicks in this article, as he looks at what is holding contact centres back, in terms of resource planning.

The Fundamentals of Contact Centre Peak Management

We delve in to the tricky topic of better managing peaks in contact volumes, with expert advice from Greg Aiello, an expert in all things contact centre operations.

Seasonal WFM – How to Prepare for Peaks and Troughs in Contact Volumes

Mike Smith and Chris Middlemass of Domestic & General share their wealth of WFM knowledge in discussing how we can better plan for those seasonal peaks and troughs in contact volumes.

Workforce Management in Outbound Call Centres

We take a look at the difficulties of planning for an outbound contact centre, before suggesting how certain WFM tools can potentially make your job much easier.

A Beginner’s Guide to Adherence Management

Andy Turner introduces us to adherence management, along with sharing lots of great advice for getting your people to stick to their schedules.

WFM Webinars

We have articles, podcasts and – of course – our revered webinar programme, in which we regularly cover topics related to WFM. Just take a look at the three examples below.

We have articles, podcasts and – of course – our revered webinar programme… Just take a look at the three examples below.

Webinar – The Best Ways to Schedule Contact Centre Advisors

WFM experts John Casey and Paul Chance give presentations on the best ways to schedule advisors, to increase the quality of your WFM plans as well as employee engagement.

Webinar – The Secrets of WFM

John Casey returns for another WFM webinar, with fellow experts Ric Kosiba and our Editor Jonty Pearce, who discuss the many lessons that WFM professionals often have to learn the hard way.

Webinar – Designing a Better Forecasting Spreadsheet

In this webinar we share the thoughts of four industry experts on how to get more from your WFM spreadsheets, focusing especially on those that you use for forecasting.

WFM Extra Tips

Everyone loves a good listicle, so let’s finish off by presenting the rest of our well-received articles that contain lots of tips covering all areas WFM.

Let’s finish off by presenting the rest of our well-received articles that contain lots of tips covering all areas WFM…

50 Expert Tips to Improve Contact Centre WFM

Doug Casterton, a leading contact centre Workforce Management (WFM) Manager, shares 50 of his favourite tips that he has learned through many years of experience within the field.

50 MORE Expert Tips to Improve Contact Centre WFM

Doug Casterton returns by popular demand, following his previous article, to share 50 more of his best tips for everyone working within the WFM arena.

How to Safely Knock 20 Seconds Off Your Average Handling Time (AHT)

An old trick to cutting costs is to knock time off AHT, to reduce our staffing requirements. While this can lead to advisors picking up negative behaviours, there are good ways to do this, as suggested in this article.

Top Tips for Improving Attendance and Adherence

WFM plans are very dependent on attendance and adherence, so some of these tips might just prove to be the missing link in your WFM plans.

7 Deadly Sins of WFM

Are your WFM plans not as efficient or engaging as they should theoretically be? If you are committing any of the seven sins discussed in this article, that might just be why…

Final Thoughts

We hope that this reference guide provides you with everything you need to know to be successful in your contact centre WFM.

With lots of thoughts from leading industry experts crammed into each of these articles, we hope that this guide becomes your go-to place when looking for anything related to WFM and resource planning.

As we constantly update our in-demand Erlang Calculator, we like to keep are finger on the pulse with everything WFM related and we hope to frequently update this page with all the latest WFM insights.

So stay tuned!

First published in April 2010. Recently updated. 

Published On: 4th Mar 2020 - Last modified: 19th Oct 2020
Read more about - Workforce Planning, , , , , ,

  1. Great articles for beginners like me.

    Andy 2 Oct at 7:01 pm
  2. Very helpful for beginners. I learned a lot and this will help me in my interview.

    Joshua Emmanuel Go 14 Jun at 1:59 pm
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