Managing employee schedules is often a deceptively difficult element of workforce management. Most hourly workers no longer clock in and clock out for a traditional 9-to-5 shift schedule. Today the average employee works on a more flexible, adaptable working schedule than in years past. Increases in remote work, contingent and contract labor, and concerns over workplace safety have required many human capital management (HCM) teams to reassess the scheduling process.
Even in labor-driven or blue collar industries where remote work is not usually feasible, new approaches to workforce management and scheduling are taking center stage. Industries with a wide range of employee schedules, such as healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, trucking, and construction, require workforce scheduling software that is robust and customizable enough to effectively institute and apply complicated scheduling rules. In most instances, that translates to an investment in reliable, automated workforce management software. Some of the specific advantages of a software-based scheduling system include:
More efficient scheduling
A busy workplace such as a manufacturing facility has a lot of roles to fill, and trying to manage those complex scheduling needs by hand can be a recipe for costly errors. An automated workforce management system can be customized to make sure that every shift is staffed by fully trained and qualified workers, without the hassle of scrolling through time sheets to fill in the gaps.
Scheduling software also helps to protect your bottom line by ensuring that your human resources are being employed in the most efficient way possible. By automatically optimizing your proposed schedules to prevent overstaffing and understaffing, your software system can identify both open shifts and those with more workers than needed. That can sharply reduce the risk of both excessive overtime hours and delayed projects, which all adds up to a benefit to your bottom line.
More data-driven insights
One of the greatest benefits of a more automated scheduling system is its ability to improve itself. The massive amounts of data generated by your workforce management system can provide hugely valuable insights into areas like ideal staffing levels for each shift, productivity levels by shift, health and safety issues for different groups of workers, and much more.
That information can then in turn inform a wide range of human resources activities, including health and safety measures, controlling labor costs, and hiring and recruitment efforts. Scheduling data provides deep insights into the ways your workforce really works. When an employer understands when and how their employees are most efficient and productive, it becomes that much easier to replicate those conditions and set yourself up for success. And by identifying areas where your scheduling process needs improvement, your HR team can make adjustments that help avoid production delays and unnecessary overtime hours.
More consistent regulatory compliance
Labor-driven industries often require complex schedules, especially for employers with facilities in multiple locations. Consistently filling shifts that require round-the-clock staffing while also keeping in mind all necessary certifications and training for each role is a gigantic task. That job is even bigger for an HR team trying to coordinate scheduling across facilities in different states and cities, each with their own specific expectations and labor laws. For employers with organized workforces, that also entails complying with any union requirements related to employee hours, paid time off, leave management, and other important time and attendance issues.
An automated scheduling system can check your proposed schedules against all applicable regulations, union guidelines, and payroll laws. Violations of federal scheduling laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act
(FMLA) or the Fair Labor Standards Act
(FLSA) can lead to heavy fines and penalties as well as significant damage to a company's reputation. That in turn can make it more difficult for an organization to reduce turnover and recruit high quality job applicants. That should be reason enough to invest in a reliable, automated scheduling solution.
Less fraud and absenteeism
Time fraud and chronic absenteeism are major expenses for employers across all industries, but especially in labor-driven fields with a large portion of hourly employees. When a business relies on outdated spreadsheets or paper-based scheduling systems, the chance for fraud and dishonest practices like buddy punching, ghost workers, and unauthorized shift changes is significantly increased.
An automated schedule management tool not only makes it more difficult for employees to commit fraudulent acts, it also makes it easier for managers and administrators to identify problem areas. A quick search of daily scheduling and attendance records can show whether a particular shift has more consistent issues with absenteeism than others, for instance. Once those issues are identified, making decisions about how best to deal with them becomes a much simpler task.
More empowered employees
Scheduling is one key area where many employees wish they had more control over their own work experience. A workforce management software system with a customizable scheduling module allows employees to take a more hands-on approach to their own work schedules via employee dashboards and mobile apps. By letting workers have more input into when and how they manage work days, an employer can boost employee engagement, which in turn increases overall worker satisfaction, helps employees develop a better work-life balance, and aids in employee retention.
In labor-driven industries where employees are frequently on the road, in the field, or traveling between sites, a mobile scheduling app is an especially powerful tool. Mobile apps
allow workers to view and adjust their schedules, swap shifts, submit leave requests and much more from any location. Especially in those blue collar fields, the flexibility of being able to manage your own schedule using a tablet or smartphone is a big step up from outdated time clock systems.
To sum it all up, automated workforce scheduling solutions are not only useful for optimizing schedules and managing complex employee shifts. Software that includes employee self-service options can enhance management-employee communication, allow workers to make real-time changes to their schedules, request shift swaps, and more. On the management side, a software solution makes it easier to track work hours and scheduling needs that can aid in accurate labor forecasting. All of those factors make investing in a workforce management system with a strong scheduling module a wise move for organizations of all sizes.