Scheduling Re-Imagined: Work Smarter, Not Harder | Part 2
Is Your Current Approach to Employee Scheduling Costing You Money?
COO, WorkForce Software
In part one of this blog series we focused on why scheduling automation needs to be your #1 priority when it comes to your digital transformation journey, and the first step to any transformation is to evaluate your current processes, identify any gaps in functionality, and prioritize your needs. To help you, I have compiled a list of 3 questions you need to ask yourself as part of any evaluation.
Are you able to quickly adapt to a rapidly changing business climate?
The COVID-19 pandemic is an extreme example of how a disruptive event can quickly change the business climate due to something completely out of your control. Businesses were shut down and people lost jobs across the globe in the blink of an eye. Whether temporary or permanent, the shock was, and still is, felt far and wide. To restart operations safely and productively, many organizations had to rethink their entire way of doing business. As governments started to ease restrictions, there was no precedence on how best to manage a safe return to work for employees. With several false starts and a roller coaster ride of government controls, the material impact on financial performance, employee engagement, and the customer experience was heavy.
Of course, disruption can come in many forms—local or global, one-time or recurring, natural vs. man-made. It can even reveal itself as an opportunity, such as an acquisition or development of a new product or service. Whether combatting or embracing disruption, you need to able to pivot quickly and that means mobilizing your workforce to maximize productivity and keep your financial footing on solid ground. Reliable and meaningful data that provides insights into historical trends and patterns while accounting for current conditions is key to building an effective response, but if you can’t evaluate the data in a timely manner, it can lead to missed opportunity. Inserting emerging technology like machine learning and artificial intelligence into your scheduling practices can cut the time to evaluate this data from days and weeks to minutes to more accurately forecast demand, predict the right labor mix, and identify gaps in talent. The combination of the right data and technology at your fingertips will empower your organization to build a timely and strategic response that sets the right expectations and allows you to flex up or down quickly as the situation evolves.
How confident are you that your staffing levels strike the perfect balance between productivity, cost, and engagement?
The phrase, “The right people at the right time at the right place,” is thrown around a lot to convey the importance of strategic scheduling practices, but the approach can fall short. For example, if the “right people” lens is too focused on the hard skills, such as training and certifications or years on the job—deemphasizing the important of soft skills such as a can-do attitude, leadership qualities, reliability, and willingness to take on new challenges—you may be missing an opportunity to develop less experienced individuals into top performers which can lead to an increase in productivity, customer satisfaction, and financial performance. Tapping into these under-utilized resources can spur growth rather than just continue with the status quo.
As you evaluate your scheduling practices, make sure they:
- Support career development plans with cross training and mentorship opportunities while still ensuring you have top performers when and where you need them.
- Avoid over and under staffing to keep labor costs in line with productivity standards and other business KPIs and boost employee engagement.
- Align with your growth strategy to maintain the momentum of the right person, right place, right time formula.
- Enable a positive feedback loop by enabling recognition and reward programs that show appreciation for positive attendance patterns and going above and beyond by putting in extra hours, working holidays, or covering for another employee.
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Are unfavorable scheduling practices impacting employee engagement?
I recently read that 12% of the workforce left their jobs in 2018 because of issues with work/life balance, including scheduling preferences, and the average cost to replace an employee making $10 per hour is $3328. That means a hypothetical organization with 5000 employees, a 25% turnover rate, and an average hourly rate of $10 could spend over $4M in turnover costs and nearly a half a million of that could be attributed to a lack of work/life balance or scheduling challenges.
To attract and retain top talent, you need to give employees an opportunity to manage personal obligations and rejuvenate with rest or pursuit of interests and hobbies outside of work. You also need to ensure scheduling practices are fair and that employee perceptions are favorable. While turnover may be a sign of a problem, the damage is already done, and you’ve probably already lost too many valuable employees on account of it. Take a more proactive approach to identify potential flight risks; attendance patterns are great indicators. Look for high occurrences and/or repeating patterns of unplanned absences, late arrivals, and early departures to determine if an employee may be disengaged or unable to plan their personal responsibilities and pursuits around their work obligations. Ask them:
- Are schedules published far enough in advance to reconcile personal and work obligations?
- Is opportunity for overtime offered equitably?
- Is there sufficient time for rest between shifts?
- Are desirable days off distributed fairly?
If the answers to one or more of these questions are no, it may be time to re-imagine your scheduling methods.
The Next Step – Finding the Right Approach
The right approach to scheduling can depend heavily on your industry, business drivers, and organizational structure. There may not be a one size fits all approach, especially if you are a multi-faceted enterprise with operations that span across multiple business models. Part three of this blog series, “Employee Scheduling – A One Size Approach Does Not Fit All,” will dive deeper into some of the most common scheduling approaches to help you determine the best option or options for your business.
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