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August 21, 2020 | Time and Attendance | Posted by Ascentis

How to Ease Workforce Scheduling in Complex Industries

Creating a consistent and efficient schedule for your workforce is a challenge no matter your industry. For multifaceted industries such as manufacturing and healthcare, the challenge is even greater. Running a business in these industries requires scheduling workers with a wide range of skill sets to complete a broad set of specific tasks, often on a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week basis. Leaving any one role unfilled can set off a chain reaction that can lead to expensive delays or even put lives at risk. Effective scheduling for these complex workforces requires expansive vision, open communication, and reliable automation.

Matching the right person with the right job

One of the trickiest truths of scheduling for a complex industry is that not everyone is qualified to do everything. In a healthcare environment, for example, a nurse who is qualified in one area of patient care may not have the proper certification to pick up a shift in another area. Scheduling an under qualified employee in that situation could be dangerous for patients and put the employer at risk of fines and penalties for noncompliance with industry regulations.

On the other side, some workers may be overqualified for certain tasks — it doesn’t make financial sense to schedule a highly paid doctor or registered nurse to perform entry-level functions. All of this holds true in the manufacturing industry as well, where some employees may be trained to operate certain pieces of equipment and not others, or where different tasks may command different rates of pay.

An automated scheduling tool with a customizable dashboard can help your team avoid these pitfalls by instituting rules-based scheduling. Essentially, your system can automatically read what certifications and skills are needed to complete a specific task and make sure that only qualified employees are scheduled for those duties. An automated dashboard can also ensure that your scheduling practices are fully compliant with all relevant state, local, and federal regulations, as well as any applicable union rules.

Scheduling for odd hours

The often round-the-clock nature of industries such as healthcare and manufacturing creates some unique difficulties for effective scheduling. Making sure that every shift is filled with qualified workers, even overnight and weekend shifts that are sometimes viewed as less desirable, presents a multi-pronged challenge — over-scheduling a shift can result in cost overruns and wasted productivity, while under-scheduling can lead to unfinished jobs, more overtime pay, burned-out workers, and higher rates of turnover.

This is another area where rules-based scheduling tools can be a great help. Customizing your scheduling dashboard to make sure that each shift is staffed with the right number of qualified workers, setting limits on available overtime hours, and setting up back-up plans in case of an employee’s extended absence or illness can help maintain your bottom line while keeping your workforce engaged and satisfied.

Flexibility and communication

The unique time requirements, complicated skill sets, and high pressure of healthcare and manufacturing roles necessitate higher levels of flexibility for both workers and managers. Unexpected schedule changes have a ripple effect across an employee’s private and professional life, resulting in stress, fatigue, and overall dissatisfaction with their role. In industries that historically experience high rates of burn-out and turnover, providing employees with time management tools that allow them to feel heard and empowered can go a long way toward retaining high-quality workers.

Employee self-service tools and mobile apps let workers take their schedules into their own hands. When employees know they have the power to manage their schedules, change and pick up shifts, enter hours worked, and submit time-off requests from wherever they are, they feel more engaged and valued in the workplace. Being able to ask questions and submit feedback via messaging apps and other communications tools also gives employees a sense of autonomy and empowerment, allowing them to have their concerns addressed before they become overwhelming. This can help mitigate everything from absenteeism to union grievances to turnover.

Keeping on top of the complex scheduling requirements of industries like healthcare and manufacturing will likely never be a simple task. By upgrading to automated scheduling software with high-level customization and communications options, though, your organization can ensure a fully staffed, qualified, and engaged workplace.

Learn more about Ascentis’ best-in-class scheduling and customization solutions with our time and attendance software.