Effective employee scheduling is the key to increasing the efficiency and productivity of your workforce. And you cannot deny the benefits of having an efficient and productive workforce! So do you have a proper plan in place for allocating tasks and shifts? Are your managers able to ensure that every employee is contributing to the organization? Is your team able to align with any sudden changes in schedules? If the answer to all these questions is yes, you are lucky. But things may be complicated for your managers if they are struggling with them. Here are a few scheduling strategies that can help you to optimize your workforce for the best results.
Understand employee preferences
The employee is at the center of workforce planning. This is the reason why you should understand their needs, wants, and preferences. It is important to know when individual employees are available and the shifts they would prefer. Allocating them shifts accordingly makes them happier and more satisfied. As a result, they end up being more productive. Unless there is a labor shortage, ensure that you assign them shifts they would prefer.
Plan well in advance
Another strategy that can drive success for scheduling managers is to plan well in advance. Have a good idea about the current and upcoming labor demands. They may fluctuate depending on seasons and business cycles. Therefore, keeping an eye on labor demand is essential to forecast the staffing needs for the future. This eliminates the chances of both shortage and wastage of resources due to under-staffing or over-staffing respectively.
Keep it flexible
While proper planning keeps you on top of employee schedules, flexibility is equally important. Consider options such as part-time hiring in case you face sudden demand. Similarly, unforeseen events such as sudden leaves can cause bottlenecks. Consider different shift options such as split shifts and extended shifts when there is a need. These allow you to fulfill your business requirements without having to onboard resources that you would not need in routine.
Scheduling may not be easy when done manually. Managing spreadsheets requires a great deal of effort and time for your managers. They may end up getting involved in laborious tasks rather than managing the team effectively. You can consider using automation to create the perfect schedule for your team, no matter what its size is. Invest in a software solution that is easy to use and empowers your managers with the ease of automation.
Have an absence management plan
Employee scheduling is much beyond creating and managing shifts. It also involves filling the gaps caused by time off. Having an absence management plan should be a part of your strategy. Don’t just limit the strategy to planned leaves such as vacations and family leaves. Ensure that it should provide coverage for unplanned ones such as contingent and sick leaves as well. Come up with a set of policies for absence management and convey them to the employees.
Keep an eye on intra-day events
Managers often look at the bigger picture and ignore the intra-day events while scheduling. These include the routine ones such as lunch, break times, training and meetings. They may seem trivial but managing them is equally important from the productivity perspective. They can result in wastage of time and keep the employees from meeting the goals. Managers should try to cut down wastage on these micro-activities with proper planning throughout the day.
Incentivize for motivation
Incentives are important if you want the workforce to contribute beyond the 9 to 5 schedules. If you need additional help during the peak seasons, be willing to offer over-time. Have a proper and clearly defined overtime pay policy in place so that workers know the benefits of working extra hours. At the same time, you can use options such as leave-without-pay for slower periods. This strategy can optimize the workforce smartly according to the business needs.
Keep an eye on performance
Another vital aspect of workforce optimization is performance monitoring. Keep an eye on the performance of individual employees to segregate performers and non-performers. The data so gathered can be used for streamlining the scheduling process. You can allocate the more critical tasks to the dependable and high-performing people you can trust. Also, this strategy enables you to identify the gaps and scope for improvement in the workforce.
Following these tactics can drive effective optimization for your workforce. By taking the right approach to scheduling, you can get the best benefits from the available resources. Further, it serves an opportunity to consolidate your overall plan for the long run.