'Tis the Season for Frontline Work

December 5, 2022 / WorkJam Blog

‘Tis the season.   

‘Tis the season for part-time and seasonal employees.   

‘Tis the season for out-of-the-ordinary time off requests.   

‘Tis the season for extended hours, more tension, and higher expectations.    


But also, ’tis the season that often makes or breaks your fiscal year!   

Every year as we enter the holiday season, our employee availability goes into turmoil.    


One employee who could only work on Monday and Thursday evenings suddenly can work full time. Another employee is heading home for the month of December. Still, another employee will be back in town for a few weeks and would like to pick up some extra shifts.    


With so much scheduling in flux, some questions need to be answered:   

  • Who is available to work?   
  • Who can work in which department?   
  • Who has been trained on the register?   
  • Who can work weekends?   
  • Who can count inventory?  

Scheduling is complicated. It is like putting together a puzzle where the pieces are constantly moving and never fit quite right. The puzzle gets even more complex when you look to optimize for traffic, sales goals, and guest satisfaction rather than merely optimizing for coverage.    


Without a doubt, having the right people working the right shifts increases productivity and profitability. Your managers must know how to put together their location’s individual puzzle best.    


So many organizations we talk to cannot easily accommodate their employees’ changing availabilities. Their teams are confined to their locations, current availability, and departments. Then, rather than find a way to update their availability and cross-train to work in a new department, employees just quit and move on to the next company that will accommodate their new availability—jumping from job to job to job.    


Often when we think of flexible scheduling, we think of the remote worker, working whenever and wherever they want. That type of flexible working obviously doesn’t work for frontline employees. You need employees when you are busy and when you are open. But for frontline employees, flexible work often means swapping a shift with a coworker so they can attend a child’s doctor’s appointment, changing their availability to accommodate a new school schedule, or picking up extra shifts at the location across town. The problem is not an unrealistic view of flexible scheduling, rather it is accommodating ever-changing schedules.  


This complexity is often magnified when your organization is using manual or outdated systems. Systems that require pulling a manager off the sales floor to make phone calls, send texts, and update the back-office computer, systems that don’t allow employees to work across departments or locations, and systems built for the 1990s, not the 2020s.   


The systems you have in place should make scheduling simpler and your leaders’ life easier. The systems you have in place should also enhance the lives of everyone using them and increase engagement and retention along the way. When you empower your team with a digital frontline workplace, you are investing in just that—a system built for your frontlines. A system that works seamlessly for scheduling, training, task management, communications, and more, all at a single source. We are already deep into the holiday season, but as you think of ways to keep your top talent, flexible scheduling and a digital frontline workplace need to be on your radar.   

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