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Scheduling Re-Imagined: Work Smarter, Not Harder | Part 3

Employee Scheduling: A One-Size Approach Does Not Fit All

Sep 28, 2020

Employee Scheduling
Denise Broady

Denise Broady

COO, WorkForce Software

The second installment of this blog series shared key points for evaluating whether your current scheduling practices are costing you money. If you are like most organizations, you may have learned there is room for improvement. If you started researching scheduling solutions, you likely found that there are many different approachesfrom simple and consistent template-based scheduling to fully automated options that align staffing with organizational needs. With so many options, it can be difficult to determine the right schedule automation approach—or approaches—for your organization. In part 3 of the series, I will try to help you understand the most common approaches and critical features to look for when evaluating employee scheduling solutions.  

Template-Driven Scheduling in a Highly Stable Work Environment  

Across your business, there are probably people in roles where the work performed and coverage needs are consistent. This can be as a simple as working standard business hours, such as Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, or a rotating shift pattern that repeats at a specific interval—for example, rotating between 4 days on and 4 days off where the same pattern repeats every 8 weeks. Assigning a template or shift pattern to an employee with template-driven schedules allows you to track employee attendance, identify behavioral trends, and understand where you may have gaps due to planned vacations. Look for solutions that support: 

  • Templates with any pattern, duration, or shift, including those that cross midnight 
  • Effective dates, so you can make and publish changes in advance 
  • Multiple tasks, meals, and breaks so employees know when and where they need to be 
  • The ability to assign shift patterns en masse or at the individual level 
  • Allow adjustments when needed without disrupting future schedules 

Demand-Driven Scheduling for Seasonal or Highly Variable Work Environments 

For organizations where demand for products and services can fluctuatefrom seasonal changes to highly granular increments of an hourdemand-driven scheduling, often referred to as schedule optimization, helps organizations avoid over and understaffing and achieve key performance indicators (KPIs), such as sales, basket sizes, conversion rateswait times, customer ratings, and productivity levelsPredict demand for your products and/or services more accurately by analyzing historical business data—including footfall, sales orders, call volumes, and moreagainst business KPIs while accounting for current and projected conditions.  

Although forecasted demand is important when it comes to demand-based scheduling, it is not the whole picture. You must also balance the demand against your capacity, capability, and budgetsDemand-based scheduling will ramp staffing levels up and down to meet variable demandat any interval—without exceeding capacity and will place top talent during peak periods to maximize productivity and keep budgets on the right track. 

Feel Confident the Right People Are in Place with Job-Driven Scheduling  

Whether your employees work in highly stable environment or one with high degrees of variability, it may be necessary to confirm that employees have very specific qualifications to perform a jobwhether trained skills, certificationsand/or behavioral characteristics with varying levels of proficiencyJob-driven scheduling often complements a template- or demand-driven scheduling approach to hit all points of the right people, right time, right place” equation not only by ensuring employees meet the qualifications, but also by alerting as to whether a qualification has or will expire, including continuing education, required hours of experience, and completion of qualifying exams before assigning a shift to the employee. This is especially important when a job is essential and when operations could be negatively impacted if a replacement is not found when the employee is absent or unavailable. 

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6 Essential Workforce Management Strategies for a Safe and Productive Return to Work

Download this eBook to learn 6 essential workforce management strategies that will help you design a safe and structured return-to-work plan.

Enforce Legislative or Contractual Requirements with Compliance-Driven Scheduling  

Not being able to prove compliance can be just as damaging as being non-compliant. My previous blogs in this series have touched on the riskslitigation, fines and penalties, diminished employee engagement, and damage to the brand. Although often a component of the other scheduling approaches, I wanted to highlight the importance of compliance-driven scheduling toward avoiding violations of legislative or contractual rules, work hour limits, required meal and rest breaks, sufficient rest periods, schedule notification periods for fair and predictive schedules, and more. 

Flexible Working Arrangements to Support Work/Life Balance 

Not all jobs require employees to work at specific times. Offering flexible options that help employees reconcile personal and professional commitments can go a long way in improving employee engagement and attracting and retaining top talent. However, most organizations need to have some level of coverage throughout the day or shift to handle unexpected situations. Building and assigning flexible work arrangements (or templates)—that define and monitor core working hours balanced by a span of hours that allow more flexibilitycan help set the right expectations with employees and empower them to achieve a work/life balance that fits their situation.  

Key Employee Self-Service Features to Boost Employee Engagement 

No matter your scheduling approach, if elevating the employee experience is a top priority, be sure you look for a solution that gives employees a say in how they are scheduled, including the ability to: 

  • View published schedules weeks in advance to plan their vacations and personal obligations around work commitments 
  • Self-report availability for extra hours or shifts 
  • Initiate qualified shift swaps with colleagues when lastminute conflicts arise  

You’re Probably Asking, “Can I Have it All?” 

If you’re a multi-faceted organization with varying operational modelsgeographic locations, and/or industries, you’re likely thinking, “But we need multiple approaches.” Unfortunately, many solution offerings in the market tend to be niche solutions focused on a specific industry or area of the business.  

That’s about to change!  

Keep an eye out for the final installment of this series to hear how WorkForce Software is changing the scheduling game with a breakthrough user experience and the latest in emerging technology to ensure our customers aren’t just surviving—they’re THRIVING!  

 

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