The following is a guest blog post by iQmetrix integrated partner and streamlined scheduling experts, Humanity.
Retail is without a doubt one of the most difficult industries to work in when it comes to the complexities of employee scheduling — there is so much work needed from everyone involved Most retail businesses employ hourly staff who have constantly changing availability, schedules, and needs. In this industry, flexibility and adaptability are key pieces to the puzzle that is employee scheduling.
Retail is without a doubt one of the most difficult industries to work in when it comes to the complexities of employee scheduling — there is so much work needed from everyone involved Most retail businesses employ hourly staff who have constantly changing availabilities, schedules, and needs. In this industry, flexibility and adaptability are key pieces to the puzzle that is employee scheduling.
Retail employees are often people with very busy schedules outside of work. Since they are commonly part-time employees, they may be balancing their work schedule with school, other employment, or family obligations. It’s these outside influences that play a large role in determining an employees availability and these other commitments are likely non-negotiable, dictating a strict timeframe for employers to work within.
As a result of all these issues, managers can become overwhelmed when trying to create efficient and effective schedules that work for themselves, their business, and their employees. Not having a solution in place for creating accurate and optimized work schedules can lead to headaches for retail managers. If your business is still using outdated methods of scheduling workers — like spreadsheets or even worse, pen and paper — you’re likely losing a lot of time and money just on the employee scheduling process. What a waste!
Thankfully, there are software solutions that can lessen the burden in scheduling that most retailers find more pressing. When you’re looking for the tools to streamline schedules and relieve your constant time-table headache, consider solutions that boast simplified employee scheduling as their focus. This software will alleviate this seemingly small painpoint that takes so much out of you’re already limited ‘free time.’
If you’ve experienced any of the following employee scheduling painpoints, an online scheduling application might be your best friend.
Problem 1: Tardiness
A recent study confirmed that employee tardiness is costing American businesses millions of dollars every year. The study claims that chronic employee lateness of even ten minutes per shift can add up to the equivalent of a week-long paid vacation.
The most obvious way tardiness affects your business is financially; you are paying someone based on their time in-store and it’s money wasted if they aren’t present and working. Not only that, but productivity can drop across your entire business as a result of tardiness, especially if the manager is not doing anything to remedy the situation. Why would one employee continue to come in on time for every shift when others are always late and not suffering any consequences as a result?
In order to decrease tardiness you need to first identify it when if it occurs, track the occurrences, and make changes that outline a clear disapproval — you want to encourage and enable employees to start their shift on time. Start with an employee time tracking solution that is going to be able to give you accurate data on when your employees are clocking in and out of their shifts and confirm their identifies when clocking in and out.
Your next step is to create an attendance policy that lets your employees know that tardiness is not tolerated. Communicate this policy clearly to existing employees and in the onboarding process so that you know you can be sure every employee is aware of their expectations.
Your final task is to facilitate good attendance. Employee scheduling software can help you by making sure that your employees always know when they are working. Get the schedules out to them quickly, make it easier for them to access their schedules from anywhere, and even send them reminders before the start of their shifts so that they never have any excuses for coming in late to work again.
Problem 2: Miscommunication
If you’re printing out your employee schedules and posting them on a bulletin board still, you are making it incredibly hard for you and your workers to stay on the same page. When it comes to scheduling their staff, managers need to make sure that everyone on the team is able to communicate easily.
What happens when one of your employees calls in sick or would like to trade a shift with a coworker? Are you still calling all of your employees by phone to see who is available to cover? Are you trying to negotiate and find viable shift trade options via email? If you are, then you’re wasting a lot of time on these processes and you are welcoming opportunities for miscommunication and misunderstandings.
Staff scheduling software makes all of these processes much easier. Most of the better employee scheduling solutions offer integrated employee messaging and real-time chat options.
Scheduling software, as is the case with most technology, makes work processes much smarter and more effective. For example, if you do need to find someone to cover a shift for an absent employee on short notice, you can simply go into the software, see a list of all of your employees who work the same position, see who will be available to cover that shift, assign that person to the shift and notify them immediately via SMS and email. No more endless phone calls or back-and-forth email chains.
Using software to create staff schedules also enables managers to give employees more independence. If an employee wants to trade a shift with another coworker, they can initiate the process themselves. They can find someone who is available to work and requests a shift trade. Their coworker can then decided to either accept or reject the shift trade request. And once the employees agree to a shift trade amongst themselves, the manager simply has to view the request and approve or decline it.
Using technology to handle these types of processes for you makes life as a retail manager much easier because you will no longer have to micromanage these types of tasks.
Problem 3: Under and Overstaffing
Being under or overstaffed can be an absolute nightmare in retail. If you’re overstaffed, then there are too many people on the sales floor with not enough sales coming in. If you’re understaffed, then your customer service is going to suffer and potential sales are walking out your door. Either way, you’re losing money.
Obviously, a good retail manager who has been with the company for a while will probably already have a good grasp of when more or fewer employees are needed — you know your company best and understand the ins and outs of your sales floor’s peak hours. There are natural peaks and valleys in every retail business when it comes to the number of customers that the store needs to engage depending on the time of day and the day of the week. That being said, there are always surprises in retail and without an adaptable scheduling platform, you could be left without the support your business and your team needs.
In order to avoid under and overstaffing, you need to look at the numbers and rely on analytics. Integrating point of sale software into your operation is a good start because this type of technology will really allow you to get granular and identify trends in customer visits that will allow you to make educated decisions regarding your staffing needs.
Better yet, you can couple that technology with employee scheduling software to not only identify those trends but also act on them accordingly. The biggest trend in the workforce management software space currently is integration; you want everything you use to integrate — your HR software, your point of sale software, your scheduling software, and anything else you rely on to manage your team.
More advanced employee scheduling applications have options that allow you to integrate point of sale data, or at least enter it in manually, and then use that data to create optimal employee schedules that will take your staffing needs into consideration and make it easier for you to avoid being over or understaffed ever again through forecasted, demand-based scheduling.
Problem 4: Employee Dissatisfaction
With poor and inefficient scheduling practices comes disgruntled and dissatisfied employees. As already mentioned, retail staff have a lot going on and unlike people who work regular 9-to-5 hours, they have a much more difficult task ahead of them when it comes to balancing their work lives and their busy private lives.
Managers who don’t involve their workforce in the scheduling process will undoubtedly see a decrease in engagement and worker satisfaction, which inevitably leads to high turnover rates.
Businesses that have inefficient scheduling processes will have inefficient and unhappy workers. If an employee can’t figure out when he or she is working or has a tough time communicating with co-workers, they will not be engaged at work. Not only that but without an established work-life balanced where their work schedule does not align with personal obligations, they will quickly seek employment elsewhere.
Transparency is key. Involve your employees in the scheduling process and increase the transparency of your employee scheduling. Allow your employees to submit their availability preferences to you and try to meet them halfway by actually listening to them and giving them the shifts they prefer whenever possible.
Make it easy for employees to request shift trades when they need them. Make it easy for them to know exactly when they are working. Make it easy for them to request to pick up an empty shift if one appears.
Do you see a theme here? The retail business is an already hectic one. Your job as a manager should be to make sure that everything else is easier. By investing in employee scheduling software, you are able to make the staff scheduling process a much less frustrating and confusing one, which will not only allow you to focus on running your store better but also enable your employees to focus on doing what they do best — serving your customers with a smile.
If any of the above hits too close to home, why not explore the Humanity employee scheduling software? Save time, increase employee engagement, and make more money. With Humanity, it’s that easy.
Humanity is a cloud-based workforce management software company based in San Francisco with offices in Europe and Asia. Fueled by a commitment to innovation and in cost effective employee scheduling applications, it serves the who’s who of company brands in over 150 countries and serves all industry types in over 100,000 business locations. Humanity offers a no-risk business model with FREE 30 day trials and been in operations since 2010.