3 Reasons You Should Move to an Availability-Based Scheduling Model
For service industry store and shift supervisors, creating weekly or monthly schedules is a game of Tetris. In the pursuit of the perfect schedule, managers arrange a multitude of factors from forecasted store traffic to staff skill levels. In the midst of these moving parts, one factor that often gets cast aside is hourly employees’ fluctuating availability and shift preferences.
This complexity, aggravated by the manual processes many stores use to generate schedules, has become a social, political and operational challenge for the industry.
According to a recent WorkJam study of service companies and hourly employees, 68 percent of managers feel that the hardest part of scheduling is assigning shifts that match business and employees’ needs. Similarly, 60 percent of workers say that the hardest part of the job search is finding positions that align with their availability and location preferences.
Rather than prolong these problems, companies (and their staff) would benefit from a fresh, holistic approach to the staffing paradigm. With the right technology in place and a few process changes, stores that bring availability to the forefront of the scheduling cycle can realize a number of business advantages, including:
- Higher retention rates: Employees who consistently receive schedules that don’t gel with their personal obligations and other jobs are more likely to leave, sticking employers with the time and cost burdens of hiring and retraining replacements. Companies that prioritize employee availability early on (i.e., during the hiring process) can retain a more experienced workforce that complements their operational needs and standards, resulting in better customer service. When both sides are on the same page from day one, the chance of employee attrition due to misaligned shifts drops dramatically.
- Fewer no-shows and understaffing: When employers are not sensitive to their employee’s availability, shift conflicts occur, leading to absenteeism. WorkJam’s study found that almost half of managers (46%) report that their locations are frequently or sometimes understaffed. As any manager knows, an understaffed store results in un-served customers, elevated overtime expenses, and lower employee morale.
Shift conflicts and last minute changes are an inevitable part of managing a team, but they’re also preventable. By equipping supervisors and staff with tools that make it easier to communicate availability, employers can simplify the scheduling process and improve overall attendance.
- Happier and more productive managers: Adhering to an availability-based scheduling model gives as much relief to management as it does to hourly workers. Almost one-quarter of service company store managers and team leaders cite scheduling tasks (e.g., creating schedules and facilitating shift changes or trades) as the most dissatisfying part of their jobs. When managers assign shifts based on employee input, they spend less time (and nurse fewer headaches) building and tweaking schedules. With integrated software or employee relationship management tools in place, employees can exert more control over scheduling by initiating shift swaps without supervisor intervention. Spreading these responsibilities equally both empowers hourly workers and frees managers to focus on more customer-facing tasks.
Service company managers shouldn’t have to dread making schedules, and employees shouldn’t have to be on pins and needles waiting for shift assignments they can’t fulfill. Adopting an availability-based scheduling model lets both sides breathe easier.