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January 28, 2021 | Time and Attendance | Posted by Ascentis Thought Leadership

Manufacturing Work Schedules

Anyone who has spent time on the scheduling side of a manufacturing workplace can tell you there is much more to the industry than just expecting workers to clock in and out for a nine-to-five shift. Managing a manufacturing schedule efficiently and effectively requires foresight, adaptability, and close attention to the skills and training required to complete each project. Effective schedule management impacts every aspect of your business, from reducing costs to improving productivity to increasing employee retention. Let’s look at a few key considerations for more effective labor scheduling in manufacturing. Use the links below to navigate the post, or read through for an in-depth look at manufacturing work schedules.

What is manufacturing scheduling?

Manufacturing work schedules go beyond simply scheduling employee hours, which is why scheduling in the manufacturing industry can be so complex. You need to make sure processes are taking place at the right time, and manufacturing time and attendance software is a good way to do that. Whether you need to make sure you have enough hands on deck at a manufacturing plant or you need construction time and attendance software to help keep a construction project on track, you need to consider everything from the time it takes to get materials and complete each step of the process to the hours you have employees scheduled to work.  Manufacturing scheduling also requires having the right staff on schedule to complete a project. In the manufacturing industry, companies need to remain compliant and have the right personnel with the needed qualifications to ensure projects run smoothly and safely from start to finish.

How to schedule employees effectively

Schedules employees can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have the proper tools or information to do so. Below are some tips on how to schedule employees effectively: Graphic explaining how to schedule employees effectively, such as ensuring everyone has access to the schedule and considering the needs of staff.
  • Understand what your team needs to accomplish: Scheduling employees effectively starts with understanding what you need to accomplish as a team. That way, you know how many hours you need to allocate to manufacturing.
  • Analyze your busiest and slowest hours and staff accordingly: You don’t want to overstaff or understaff, so take note of when you need employees most and try to schedule them around those times.
  • Anticipate future activity trends by week, month, and year: Use analytics to look into the future instead of simply doing what you’ve been doing. Changing based on predicted trends can help you create more efficient schedules.
  • Consider the needs of your staff: Make sure employees have enough time off that they aren’t getting burnt out, and try to respect holidays, childcare, and other things your employees have to do when scheduling.
  • Ensure everyone has access to the schedule: Making sure everyone has a copy of the schedule keeps everyone on the same page, and HRIS software and other tools make it easy.

Scheduling best practices

There are also scheduling best practices managers and HR staff should be aware of to ensure employees are satisfied and remain productive. Take a look at some scheduling best practices below: Employee scheduling best practices include planning ahead, determining staff availability, and making schedules accessible.
  • Plan ahead: Use manufacturing job scheduling software to plan ahead of time, so your schedule is always in order. Planning ahead prevents absenteeism and ensures you have enough hands on deck.
  • Determine staff availability: Figure out when your employees are available to work and schedule them accordingly. Scheduling employees when they can’t work won’t help anybody.
  • Comply with local laws and regulations: There are rules when it comes to work schedules and overtime pay, so make sure you’re complying with these laws and regulations with manufacturing employee scheduling.
  • Anticipate schedule changes: Be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to upcoming changes in your schedule.
  • Post your schedule well in advance: Post your schedule as far in advance as possible so your employees can plan accordingly.
  • Make your schedule accessible: Use scheduling software solutions to ensure everyone has access to the schedule and can see the changes you make in real-time.
  • Continuously review and update your schedule: Review and update manufacturing work schedules as necessary to create the best work schedule for manufacturing.

How to schedule manufacturing production

When it comes to labor scheduling for manufacturing, there are more factors to consider. You need to schedule your employees based on who’s certified and trained to do certain tasks. You also need to make sure employees have regular breaks to comply with laws and regulations and ensure employee safety. Efficiency is the name of the game with manufacturing, so make sure you schedule enough skilled employees for the manufacturing process without overscheduling and wasting money.

Benefits of effective scheduling in manufacturing

Creating manufacturing work schedules is more difficult than traditional scheduling, so effective scheduling provides a lot of benefits. Using tools like flexible work schedules as detailed in this Department of Labor flexible schedules page is a good way to keep employees happy and avoid traditional 9-5 scheduling. Effective scheduling in manufacturing saves you time and money while ensuring your manufacturing deadlines are met and your product is delivered on time. Benefits of effective scheduling in manufacturing include ensuring proper shift coverage, reducing turnover, and staying compliant.

Ensuring proper shift coverage

Manufacturing schedules are far from one-size-fits-all. Most facilities have a wide range of tasks going on at any given time, many of which require specific skills or training. Without an organized, easily manageable scheduling system, keeping all of those roles filled with qualified employees becomes all the more difficult. For example, if a worker who is trained to operate a specific piece of equipment calls in sick or leaves their role, having someone on hand with the same qualifications is essential for avoiding a costly production delay. Accurate, easily accessible records can even inform hiring decisions by exposing areas where those kinds of skills gaps exist. When those gaps are identified, employers can put their learning management systems to use to upskill or reskill existing staff or to hire skilled laborers before issues arise.

Along similar hiring lines, it is rare for a modern manufacturing facility to maintain a constant pace of production throughout the year. As production ebbs and flows, employers need to be able to adjust their workforces accordingly. Automated scheduling software helps project the need for more or fewer workers as order sizes change, materials become available, and demand fluctuates. This type of foresight can be useful in setting labor goals and making decisions about whether to recruit new full-time hires or bring in contingent labor or contract employees. This data can also be hugely beneficial in helping your HR team avoid the cost overruns that come from overscheduling as well as the production slowdowns and overtime payouts that come with underscheduling.

Reducing turnover and empowering employees

The manufacturing industry has one of the highest rates of turnover in the American workforce, partly because the nature of the work is often physically demanding and repetitive. An active approach to scheduling can help improve employee retention rates by ensuring that workers are taking scheduled breaks and rotating duties when possible to help combat burnout. In fact, 83% of employees are more willing to stay at their job if they have more control over their work schedules. Scheduling software can also be used in collaboration with your learning management system to get employees trained in a wider variety of skills. By helping your workers develop more diverse skill sets, you can not only increase their engagement but also build a more interchangeable workforce that helps you avoid scheduling gaps in the future. 83% of employees are more willing to stay at their job if they have more control over their work schedules. A strong labor scheduling system can further empower your workforce with employee self-service options. Many manufacturers are moving toward time and attendance software systems that include a mobile app or dashboard that gives employees the opportunity to make schedule changes, swap shifts, submit time-off requests and other day-to-day scheduling tasks. By putting those functions directly in the hands of your workers, you can not only empower your employees but also free up time that managers would otherwise spend making schedule adjustments and processing requests. Expanding employee self-service is a simple and cost-effective way to increase productivity while also reducing turnover, both of which ultimately benefit your bottom line.

Staying safe and compliant

The modern workforce is more conscious of health and safety concerns than ever before. The pandemic of 2020 has impacted every aspect of the manufacturing industry, including scheduling practices. Many manufacturers responded to these new workplace health concerns with measures such as staggering scheduling, adding extra shifts, or creating “pods” of workers to limit social contact in the work environment. Managing all of these new measures efficiently requires a reliable automated scheduling process. The potential costs of a workplace outbreak and the possibility of subsequent lawsuits or fines make this too important an area to leave open to human error.

Beyond physical safety, automated labor scheduling solutions also protect manufacturers against the risks of non-compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. The most obvious example is the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and its requirements around overtime pay and misclassification of employees as independent contractors. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also requires consideration, with its guidelines for granting time off for certain employees. Depending on your business’s physical location, there are also likely to be state and local laws related to minimum wages, overtime, paid time off, and more. A manual or semi-manual scheduling system is unlikely to be robust enough to manage all of those compliance concerns and puts a manufacturer at risk of substantial fines, sanctions, and reputational damage.

Scheduling software

The fact is that managing scheduling for an organization as complex and wide-reaching as most manufacturing facilities is too complicated to handle without automated tools. The risks to your business’s bottom line and employee satisfaction levels are simply too great to leave to chance. Find out more about the ways Ascentis can revitalize your scheduling practices and build a safer, more productive, more profitable workplace. From calculating ROI with HR software to creating organized employee schedules, Ascentis can help.

With more than 35 years of experience in providing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Ascentis thought leaders have become a respected source for insights, tips, and innovations in the Human Capital Management (HCM) space.