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The business benefits of taking a holistic view of workforce management

By Jane Lambert | |5 minute read

It’s well documented that redundancies have been accelerating in Australia – branded “The Great Sacking” as organisations seek to cut headcount to manage inflated costs. This means businesses need to juggle their remaining headcount, managing workloads with fewer resources and plugging gaps by “borrowing” team members from different departments.

However, traditional organisational structures mean that operations leaders usually have a specific remit – you manage the front office or the back office. In isolation, ops leaders can optimise their department, but it still creates sub-optimal outcomes for an organisation’s overall operational efficiency, given the inherent latency built in whenever you segment pools of workers into smaller groups. While this approach can deliver great service, it makes the flexible approach to managing workloads required to navigate “The Great Sacking” much more difficult.

Our OpsTracker Report, which analyses insights from over 30,000 employees to identify operational performance trends in service operations at financial institutions, shows Australian banks are outperforming counterparts in other regions on agility levels, but they are still below the pandemic-era peak. This suggests operations teams are not making the most of their capacity.

Think about it like this: imagine you’re the captain of a cricket team. You’ve got players designated for batting and others for bowling. While they might excel in their respective roles, you can’t deny the fact that flexibility suffers because of this rigid set-up. The same applies to how companies structure their operational teams.

In the business arena, operational leaders often oversee specific areas – think of them as managers of the front office (customer-facing) or the back office (administrative and operational tasks). When these leaders work in isolation, they can make their departments run like well-oiled machines. But here’s the twist: this approach, although efficient on the surface, often leads to less-than-optimal outcomes for the entire organisation. Why? Because of the untapped capacity available when workers are siloed.

Imagine the front office as the bustling call centre that needs 100 staff as soon as the phone lines open at 9am. But just 15 minutes later, the call volume drops, and you only need 80 staff. Now, you can’t hire people for a mere 15-minute slot. So, you end up with 20 “available” staff for most of the four-hour shift, creating an unnecessary surplus of resources.

Meanwhile, the back office might be facing the opposite problem – a shortage of resources during certain periods when the workload varies. With multiple day service levels in the back office, available work is rarely an issue – knowing who is available and who can do what work when, however, is a challenge.

For some operations leaders, that has sparked a light bulb moment – what if you could share resources across the front and back office? These leaders have embraced a more holistic approach to managing their workforce. They realised that by redirecting staff, they could smooth out the peaks and troughs of resources in both offices. For instance, moving front-office staff to handle customer service tasks in the back office and then shifting back-office staff to tackle more complex work they’re trained for.

The challenge historically with trying to share resources across the front and back office is that organisations haven’t had the necessary tech or data needed to respond to shifts in resources and workload in real time. But by investing in the right technology, workforce planners and ops leaders can get that real-time visibility, and the prospect of sharing resources across the front and back offices becomes a reality.

We’re witnessing this revolutionary approach taking root in the operations of banks and insurance companies across Australia, and it’s driven by two crucial factors in tandem: the need for operational teams to be leaner and more cost-effective and the rising bar of customer expectations. Customers don’t want to bounce between different departments whenever they interact with a company. They want their journey to be seamless and consistent.

By adopting an organisation-wide view of workforce management – looking at the whole enterprise instead of just parts of it – businesses can steer toward a more customer-centric model. This approach also brings significant cost savings. With staff members capable of handling a wider range of tasks, the need for separate front and back office functions diminishes. It’s like having all-rounder players in cricket – they can bat, bowl, and field with finesse. Moreover, this transformation boosts agility and engagement among employees, enriching their roles and experiences.

In a world where businesses must swiftly adapt to changing landscapes, embracing this holistic approach to workforce management isn’t just wise – it’s essential. By removing the barriers between front and back offices and using operational intelligence to make informed decisions on resource allocation, businesses can not only optimise resources but also enhance customer experience, employee engagement and cost-effectiveness.

By Jane Lambert, regional managing director for APAC at ActiveOps. She discusses how the growing trend of merging resources across front and back-office functions delivers reduced cost, better customer service and increased employee engagement.



Benefits include any additional incentives that encourage working a little bit more to obtain outcomes, foster a feeling of teamwork, or increase satisfaction at work. Small incentives may have a big impact on motivation. The advantages build on financial rewards to promote your business as a desirable employer.


The term "workforce" or "labour force" refers to the group of people who are either employed or unemployed.