When Shift Hits the Fan: 4 Benefits of Automated Scheduling

 
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In any shift-based environment, you deal with constant scheduling and labor forecasting issues that get in the way of your ultimate goal: having the most qualified employee completing a task successfully before deadline.

Which is why it’s so debilitating when schedulers spend hours of time each week creating the perfect roster, only for unexpected absences to hinder productivity and ultimately render that excel sheet useless. Wouldn’t it be nice if creating shift schedules could be approached as a transformative strategy rather than a necessary evil?

Well, it can!

Rather than relying on manual data-entry, automated scheduling software would keep tabs on your employees for you. Here are the four benefits automated scheduling can provide your 24x7 organization.

Engage Employees

Plant managers and supervisors can be equipped with real-time labor information and employee schedules from the comfort of their mobile devices. Further, your shift employees will have total transparency into not just their schedules, but their coworker’s schedules. They’ll have the freedom to view schedules, request time off, volunteer for shifts, and more.

This is all the more beneficial when you see just how much unhappy employees can actually cost your company. In just one year, lost work days due to stress can cost $30 billion.

By giving your shift employees more control and oversight into their own schedules, you can start chipping away at common scheduling stressors like disorganization and misplaced leave requests. If you give your hourly employees the tools and visibility to help, you'd be surprised at how proactive they can be on behalf of the scheduler. They can solve things like scheduling swaps on their own, from the comfort of anywhere.

Improve Efficiencies

Excel spreadsheets and paper are very linear approaches. Changes cannot be applied automatically across ever-changing staff scheduling and workforce management needs. Workforce scheduling is rarely static, so why is your scheduling system?

Automation allows for your scheduling procedures to be dynamic, allowing for instant adjustment as your demands change daily (or monthly, or hourly).

Shift managers typically find out moments before the start of the shift that there is an absence. Either they find someone at such short notice to take the shift that is (hopefully) qualified, or they are forced to not run that line. Rather than easily hitting a button, they are sifting through paper while trying to remember their WFM rules along with union rules. As they're trying to decide who the best person to fill in would be, the manager is hoping their databases are up to date with hours worked for employees.

Had the manager received an immediate notification that someone called in sick, they could have assigned the most qualified, available person to that vacancy. The skills matrix and certification tracking that is available with the software will also further ensure compliance.

This real-time workforce data makes your organization proactive and more efficient.

Remain Compliant

Your organization can guarantee that they are adhering to even the most recent labor laws with software that automates compliance coverage. If you cannot ensure that your schedules are compliant due to lack of visibility, your organization will be scrambling to avoid hefty fines and union grievances.

Let’s use predictive scheduling as an example. Predictive scheduling is aimed to provide employees more long-term transparency into their schedules to achieve a better work-life balance; it is already in effect in Oregon, New York, California, and some provinces in Canada. In some cases, this requires that schedules be given out two weeks in advance. Schedulers and demand planners that are still relying on pen and paper or whiteboards to plan that far ahead will be stuck relying on tribal knowledge of “who worked when?” and “who requested a vacation for how long?”. Honestly, who has that good of a memory?

There are industry-specific compliance standards that need to be taken into account as well. For food processors, something as critical as preventing food contamination actually starts with scheduling. The reason qualification management—and just having easy access to the certifications of all your hourly employees in general—is so important is because human error in food manufacturing is a public health issue. With the right scheduling tool, you will ensure that you have the most qualified person on the line, ready to adhere to food contamination guidelines.

Besides predictive schedules, combatting labor fatigue is critical when it comes to increasing the quality of life of your shift employees. Knowing for certain that you aren’t accidentally scheduling one employee too many overtime hours can help prevent workplace accidents.

Ultimately Reduce Expenses

By engaging employees, improving efficiencies, and remaining compliant, you will save money.

With automated scheduling, you can prevent unnecessary overtime because you’ll have complete oversight into how many hours your hourly employees have worked. You can ensure that all positions are not just filled, but also that you don't have people scheduled for a day with absolutely nothing to do. With the right software, you can implement tailored company restrictions that will further help you prevent unnecessary overtime.

But it's not just overtime that you can save on. As previously mentioned, automated scheduling saves you on time. And automation helps you make better use of this newfound time, allowing supervisors to spend their energy on revenue-growing initiatives instead of constantly reminding employees where they need to be and when. Due to this, automated scheduling creates a forward-thinking mindset. With the right system, management can take a step back and ask strategic questions like, "How many days are we filling X position?" vs. "Just fill the position so we don't fall behind."

You’ll hit deadlines on time while staying within the budget; if you need to go over budget, leadership will be alerted ahead of time—as opposed to when the project is already completed.

And perhaps the more obvious way automated scheduling can cut costs? It will mitigate your risk of fines.

The Indeavor Solution

Looking to reap all four benefits above? Of course you are!

Workloud is our workforce management SaaS solution which offers clients an end-to-end, cloud-based employee scheduling, time & attendance, and absence management system. Workloud integrates with your human capital management and enterprise resource planning systems to create a robust platform that provides you with real-time employee data.

Interested to see how we can help your organization tackle WFM realistically? Click here to request a demo.