Back to School: Basic Workforce Management Principles for Scheduling in Contact Centers

Posted by Ken Tse on August 30, 2023

As we gear up for the back-to-school season, it’s the perfect time to go back to basics on the ABCs of contact centers scheduling. Workforce management (WFM) plays a vital role in the seamless functioning of contact centers, ensuring optimal staffing, exceptional customer service, and agent satisfaction. Effective scheduling is the backbone of WFM, and mastering its basic principles is essential for success. In this blog, we will delve into the fundamental workforce management principles for scheduling in contact centers, providing you with the knowledge and tools to excel in your role.

1. Accurate Forecasting and Planning

The first lesson in workforce management scheduling is accurate forecasting and planning. Effective forecasting involves predicting customer interaction volumes, including calls, emails, chats, and more, based on historical data and trends.

By analyzing past data, you can identify patterns and predict future workload, helping you plan the right number of agents needed at different times of the day, week, or month. Accurate forecasting is the foundation of successful scheduling and ensures that customer demand is adequately met without over or under-staffing.

2. Schedule Flexibility for Dynamic Demands

Contact centers experience dynamic call volumes throughout the day, with peaks and troughs driven by customer behavior, external events, and marketing campaigns. Embracing schedule flexibility is essential for effectively managing these changes.

Consider implementing flexible scheduling options such as staggered shifts, part-time shifts, or offering voluntary time-off during quiet periods. Schedule flexibility empowers you to balance workload efficiently, improving service levels and agent satisfaction.

3. Real-Time Monitoring and Adjustments

In the world of contact centers, agility is key. Unexpected changes in customer demand can occur at any moment, necessitating real-time monitoring and adjustments.

Utilize real-time metrics to monitor call queues, average handle times, and agent availability. Being proactive in monitoring enables you to make informed decisions and redistribute resources as needed, ensuring optimal service and customer satisfaction.

4. Adherence to Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Meeting service level agreements is a primary objective of workforce management. Service level agreements can be defined as the percentage of customer interactions that must be answered within a specified time frame, such as “80% of calls answered within 30 seconds” or average speed of answer, such as “60 seconds”.

Scheduling enough agents during peak hours is crucial to meeting service level targets consistently. Adherence to SLAs enhances customer satisfaction by reducing wait times and ensuring timely issue resolution.

5. Agent Empowerment for Enhanced Engagement

Incorporating agent empowerment in the scheduling process has a direct impact on agent engagement and performance. Involve agents in the schedule creation process by considering their preferences and shift bids.

When agents have some control over their schedules, they are more likely to feel valued and committed to their roles. Empowered agents are happier, more productive, and less likely to seek alternative employment, reducing turnover rates.

6. Skills-Based Routing for Efficient Service Delivery

In contact centers, not all agents possess the same skill set or expertise. Skills-based routing ensures that customer interactions are directed to the most suitable agents, maximizing first-call resolution and customer satisfaction.

When creating schedules, align agent skills with expected call types and volumes. Skills-based routing reduces transfers, enhances agent confidence, and ultimately improves overall service delivery.

7. Adherence to Labor Regulations

Compliance with labor laws and regulations is non-negotiable for any contact center. Scheduling practices must align with local labor laws regarding working hours, break times, overtime, and rest periods.

Maintaining compliance not only avoids legal issues and penalties but also promotes a healthy work environment and safeguards agent well-being.

8. Continuous Training and Development

Effective workforce management extends beyond creating schedules. Investing in continuous training and development for agents is critical for delivering exceptional customer service.

Allocate time in schedules for agents to participate in training sessions without compromising service levels. Ongoing training keeps agents updated on product knowledge, industry trends, and customer service techniques, making them more confident and capable in their roles.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed your back-to-school crash course on the basic workforce management principles for scheduling in contact centers. Armed with these principles, you are well-equipped to optimize schedules, meet customer demands, and enhance agent satisfaction.

Remember, accurate forecasting and planning form the foundation of effective scheduling. Embrace schedule flexibility to handle dynamic demands and be proactive with real-time monitoring to make timely adjustments.

Strive to meet service level agreements consistently, empower agents in the scheduling process, and implement skills-based routing for efficient service delivery. Always maintain compliance with labor regulations and invest in continuous training and development for agents.

As you apply these principles in your role in the workforce management team, you’ll contribute to the success of your contact center and foster a positive and productive work environment. With dedication and a commitment to excellence, you’re well on your way to becoming a scheduling superstar in the world of contact center workforce management!

Ken Tse