Off the Rails: Getting Overtime Back on Track for Mass Transit
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) paid its workers $418 million in overtime last year.
Public transit in general has been dealing with a worker shortage nation-wide. But that alone cannot account for the staggering 16% increase the MTA saw in its overtime distribution.
Perhaps the problem with any agency that depends on their round-the-clock workforce is the process in which that workforce can request extra shifts. Is there proper oversight on how many hours one employee has already worked that week? What about auditing? Budgeting for future demand needs?
Scheduling automation can reduce overtime by 19% because it (1) helps distribute overtime equitably and (2) does the work of tracking individual employee hours for you.
Replace the Guess Work with Data-Driven Insights
When scheduling on paper or spreadsheets, distributing overtime fairly relies on someone recording each employee’s hours worked along with their previously allocated overtime. Keeping track of the latter is critical for compliance. You can’t have any unfair biases towards particular employees receiving overtime consecutively, as most union contracts stipulate the acceptable (and mandatory) allowance.
When overtime hours are issued, the supervisor looks through union contracts and then chooses based on whatever factors make sense; seniority, certifications for a particular assignment, etc. This is done through either tribal knowledge (“I know my people” or “I just need someone now because I know I can't afford to stall this project”) or by looking through a separate log of employee information (that may or may not be up-to-date). This process is repeated every week, and the manual tracking of standard and OT hours acts as the official “audit trail” to look back on if an employee has a scheduling grievance.
Think about how many mistakes could happen with all that manual entry. And what about all the trends you can’t catch, such as how many employees are clocking in too much overtime simply because they thought to ask for it—or because they knew they could dictate “I worked 8 hours of OT today” to a data entry person and there would be no way to audit the statement's accuracy?
Without real-time visibility into employee hours and how that matches with current demand need, supervisors can’t accurately anticipate their overtime costs. Yes, OT is being tracked, but that piece of paper or excel spreadsheet is not providing any extra insights. There’s no explanation to why those overtime hours are being assigned in the first place.
But let’s say you used an automated scheduling system.
Your weekly schedules will always sync up with labor demand. This is because you can input various types of analytical data into the software, from company rules and restrictions that reduce unnecessary overtime to your organization’s historical demand trends. Each employee is then assessed by these rules as the schedule generates automatically; this is true for both standard and OT hours. There is no need to write or type anything afterwards, as there is an automatically generated log of the shift employees’ standard and OT hours
When an employee is clocking in overtime, it’s because they are fitting an anticipated need. Meaning even an organization as robust and complex as the MTA can have more control (and transparency) over their scheduling.
The Indeavor Solution
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.
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