Aug 05, 2015

Overtime Pay Change: One More Reason to Automate Employee Scheduling

Obama overtime pay change adds to scheduling complexity for employers

Add it to the list of headaches that swirl around the often unappreciated yet vital task ofemployee scheduling. The overtime pay change recently issued by the Obama administration to raise the bar on how many salaried employees quality for overtime pay represents yet another scheduling challenge for employers hoping to find a balance between maintaining their labor budget and best addressing employee satisfaction.

The change, issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act, would mean that employees that employees having an annual salary less than $50,440 would now be eligible for overtime, representing 40 years of catchup from the previous figure of $23,660. That translates into an extra 5 million U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay.

Aside from scheduling to minimize overtime pay, there are many other issues around scheduling such as compliance considerations, budget management, and making sure an optimal amount of employees is on hand to do the job. As a career frontline manager, scheduling was one of my constant thorns. While the actual process of placing the correct amount of qualified people in shifts where needed was a manageable task, it could take considerable time depending upon the complexities of the shift patterns, workload, and other constraints. Time requirements aside, my pain points were more often around ineffective communication and integrating such information into the scheduling process.

There is no joy in phoning an employee to find out why they are not at work and being told that they were granted the day off by a supervisor, who forgot to enter it into the spreadsheet, or who entered it into the wrong version of the spreadsheet.

From the employee perspective, scheduling is also often a thorn. Just sit with a coffee in an employee lunchroom, or linger by the posted shift schedule and listen. It is too common to hear the conversation swirl around scheduling, and frustration around scheduling, as employees attempt to manage the likes of daycare and babysitting, second jobs, school courses, and public transportation options. Employee frustration also ends up hitting the bottom line when staff shortages are experienced in the face of not covering predictable absences, or when frustrated employees quit, resulting in recruitment and training costs for new employees.

There is a better way to schedule employees, says Joshua Ostrega, COO for WorkJam, who notes that burden of scheduling on managers is a key reason why it is often postponed until the last minute, often to the frustration of employees trying to strike a life work balance. “I believe there is an opportunity for (WorkJam) technology to create a win win situation for employers and employees alike.” WorkJam provides an employee relationship management platform targeted at better managing the contemporary labor-management relationship. The platform allows a range of functionality including:

  • availability notification and management
  • schedule creation
  • shift management
  • finding open shift opportunities
  • requesting vacation time or sick time
  • posting and participating in training sessions
  • communicating
  • rating managers and shifts

From a corporate perspective, compliance with legal and corporate requirements is an ongoing headache, too often only surfacing after the fact. With rules integrated into the digital platform, companies can remove the burden compliance considerations from manual schedule makers and thereby better a consistent experience.

Ostrega notes the digital platform takes employee focus off of the posted schedule to their smart phone app, giving them more prompt access to shift information and scheduling options, such as the ability to pick up open shifts.

One cool feature of WorkJam is a rewards program to help shape employee behavior. Workers can win badges for reaching specific performance milestones,filling open shifts, or for the completion of training. Such achievements can allow employees to enjoy preferential priority for scheduling and vacation.

As Ortega says, the digital platform addresses concerns of corporate oversight, burdened managers and employees alike. Change can be difficult, however, increasing complexity such as the overtime changes increasingly create urgency towards a digital solution such as WorkJam.

Rick LeBlanc /

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