Faced with mounting public pressure, service industry employers and local governments are taking action to improve hourly employees’ work-life balance.
Oregon, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle have passed legislation requiring retail and fast food employers to curb on-call scheduling practices and to provide employees with schedules further in advance. From The Container Store to Macy’s, chains have rolled out technology allowing employees to trade shifts based on their availability. While equitable scheduling is a positive step forward for the service industry, there are additional measures employers should take to preserve employees’ personal time.
For desk-bound, salaried employees, most work communication filters through corporate email, conference calls, and other business-specific applications. The decision to link any of those methods to personal accounts or devices is often left to the individual. By comparison, hourly workers usually surrender their personal phone numbers and email addresses in order to stay in the scheduling loop–leaving them vulnerable to off-the-clock interruptions.
With the rise of digital workplace platforms, employers no longer have to choose between fostering close communication or cultivating a healthy work-life balance with hourly staff.
Drawing a clear line between professional and personal life.
In most instances, frontline managers will always need access to employees’ phone numbers or email addresses in case of emergencies or last-minute questions. Digital workplace platforms create an alternative communication channel for hourly employees, managers, and head offices for day-to-day operations like shift assignments, professional development, and corporate news.
This translates into four tangible benefits for workers and employers:
1. Personal information stays private
Hourly employees usually rely on massive group texts and social media groups—company-endorsed or otherwise—to facilitate shift swaps and find last-minute placements. By consolidating all frontline communication to a digital workplace platform, there’s no need for employees to have access to each other’s cell phone numbers, email addresses, or even social media profiles. Thus, employees and managers can enjoy more control over day-to-day communication, staying in the loop about important information without broadcasting personal contact information to dozens of people.
2. No interruptions on days off
It has become more commonplace for hourly employees to swap phone numbers and text back-and-forth whenever shifts need to be moved. Constant group text notifications and calls infringe on employees’ days off, especially when that time is devoted to family, school, or other jobs. Digital workplace platforms liberate employees from fielding constant alerts—especially when they don’t specifically pertain to them. Instead, employees can choose how notifications are delivered and whether it’s through the app, via email, or directly to their phones.
3. More efficient manager/employee communication
Digital workplace platforms bring much-needed structure to how managers interact with hourly employees. Managers, for instance, can shoot a quick note to an employee or team the night before a shift without worrying about disrupting staff outside of business hours. With dedicated modules for things like schedule changes or new training alerts, employees no longer have to sift through endless chat logs or comment threads to find the information relevant to them. In certain situations, a centralized platform can even save employees from stopping by the workplace on their day off just to get a new schedule or confirm a shift swap.
4. Stronger data security
Service industry employers have an obligation to protect sensitive employee information as much as corporate IP or customer data. Adopting a digital workplace platform is a key step toward safely storing workers’ private details. Compared to relying on Facebook groups or texting, digital workplace solutions help ensure that personal contact information—along with proprietary company information—stays out of the wrong hands.
Privacy and work-life balance aren’t exclusive to the salaried workforce. With the right tools in place, service industry organizations can extend the same courtesies to their hourly employees.