3 Tips for Scheduling Staff with Safety and Productivity in Mind
Director, Product Marketing
“The only constant in life is change,” a quote documented in the early doctrines of Heraclitus, has certainly stood the test of time. Over 2,500 years later, and no words seem to define the landscape of today’s everchanging circumstances than the sentiment that adjustment and adaptation in the face of change is both strategic and necessary.
To keep this from turning into an existential lesson on Greek philosophy, let’s only apply Heraclitus’ wise words to your organization’s return-to-work efforts. Now more than ever, the only constant in today’s workplace practices and business climate is change. Even if the roadmap for your organization’s re-entry into the market prioritizes staffing and incorporates shift-planning techniques, no return-to-work strategy will prove entirely fool-proof.
Most likely, the best re-opening plan will require adjustment as you navigate these uncharted waters, meaning that you will need to alter your scheduling practices to improve on both safety precautions and productivity. A safe and productive workplace is essential in today’s economic environment, and this is no time to cut corners. You must first understand what is and is not working for your business in order to make scheduling adjustments that will minimize the financial impact to your business. As you continue to refine your strategy, consider the following:
1. Ongoing Refinement of Labor Demand Forecasts
Reliably forecasting labor demand during the planning phase can be a touch-and-go process. Because your business has no precedent to work from, the earliest stages of forecasting labor demand will require your best educated guess using recommended guidelines and adjustments to historical data. Length and frequency of customer visits may have changed, product demand may fluctuate, and online offerings may be more popular than originally anticipated. The good news is that as business continues to progress, you will begin to gather more accurate data that will help you continuously refine your labor demand forecasts. Agility during this initial period is key, so don’t be afraid to adjust and adapt where necessary.
2. Shifting the Nature of the Work
Feedback from your employees and customer base will be very telling in identifying new trends that will help you make smart and strategic scheduling decisions. Retailers may find that their customers prefer to shop online, creating a demand for next-day delivery. Similarly, a municipality may observe a spike in park visitors as gyms remain closed, requiring more workers to enforce safety measures. Continue to keep the lines of communication open so that you can anticipate areas where you may need to modify operations, create or discontinue jobs, modify shifts, or alter product lines.
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3. Increasing Safety Precautions
You may discover a need to establish more stringent policies to decrease the risk of exposure if your environment requires employees to work in close proximity to others or with individuals who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. For example, healthcare workers caring for patients with underlying health conditions will need to adhere to higher safety measures. Restaurants operating at lower capacity limits will need to sanitize tables and dining areas between patrons. For busier locations, it may be appropriate to schedule additional staff to enforce social distancing practices, improve upon cleaning and sanitation efforts, or perform pre-shift health screenings for employees entering the onsite premises.
As you continue to guide your organization through these times of change, don’t shy away from revisiting and re-adjusting your scheduling practices to enhance overall productivity and increase safety measures. A dedicated workforce management solution can help by automating pre-shift health screenings; forecasting labor demand via machine learning; adding or contracting roles, shifts, or product lines; and much more. For an extensive guide that will help you plan your entire return-to-work journey, download our latest eBook, 6 Essential Workforce Management Strategies for a Safe and Productive Return to Work.