5 Keys to Employee-Friendly Workforce Scheduling
(Part 2 of a series on employee scheduling and work-life balance. find the first post here.)
The cornerstone of a balanced and fair schedule is an appreciation that employee satisfaction matters. Recognition that happy workers produce happy customers may be the easiest way to justify working employee needs into your workforce scheduling strategy. Once you’ve taken that step, there are a few specific features you should expect from scheduling software:
- Unavailability – Too often, we conflate time off with “vacation.” For hourly and contingent workers, in particular, we need another way to indicate when someone can’t work. Unavailability is a self-service answer to that need, and it’s a simple and fundamental tool for supporting better work/life balance.
- Time off requests – Employees should also be able to request time off for a vacation, a sick day, or any other relevant reason, directly through the system. Once approved, those should be directly reflected on timesheets and taken into account by the scheduling software.
- Shift swaps – With the right tools in place, line managers don’t need to solve every scheduling conflict for the team. Empower workers to trade shifts with qualified peers, and you’ll give them more control over their schedule without compromising business results.
- Adding and dropping shifts – When a direct swap isn’t possible, there may still be workers looking to pick up additional work, and others looking to pare back their hours. The right tools can set up any number of safeguards that look at the total work hours, including the potential for overtime, each employee’s wage and skills, and allow for shift additions and subtractions only when it’s in the mutual interest of employee and employer.
- Shift and vacation bidding – Some scheduling complaints stem from uncertainty about future weeks. Enabling workers to bid for future vacation periods, or for high-demand shifts, well in advance can give workers greater control of their schedule, and allow them to plan personal obligations around those published shifts.
Collectively, these features allow employers to run lean and nimble operations, while giving workers plenty of ways to seek balance when and how they need it.
- Scheduling satisfaction – Poll your workers on how satisfied they are with the hours they’ve been offered. Once you have a steady baseline of satisfaction data, you can correlate that with measures of business outcomes (revenue, profitability, etc.) to determine how employee satisfaction impacts results.
- Employer turnover – Satisfied workers tend to stay more engaged, and more loyal, to the business. If your organization succeeds at fostering an employee-friendly scheduling system, then those results should show up in your retention figures.
- Scheduling and engagement – For a more advanced indicator of how scheduling self-service relates to business results, cross-reference shift changes with employee performance scores. You may find that workers who are more active stewards of their calendar—that is, employees who are initiating more swaps and schedule changes—are also more effective at their jobs. Engagement boosts performance, which is why any discussion of “scheduling optimization” needs to consider employee demands.
Expect to hear more about this topic in the months ahead. Hopefully, the tone will shift from an emphasis on what’s broken to an exploration of how to fix it. Regulations may do the trick, but workforce scheduling tools for enabling more employee-friendly practices are already available … we just need to use them.