Retail outlets suffer from scheduling difficulties; they're an anticipated hazard where brick and mortar B2C businesses are concerned, regardless of an organization's size or stature.
Typically, retail outlets pull a lot of their employees from a fairly young pool of workers, many of whom are just out of high school, or college students working part-time. Often, these workers require accommodation for such things, such as child care or college classes. The nature of the industry is such that scheduling is often done on-the-fly, with employees learning what their hours are going to be days or even hours before each week's schedule posts.
Even then, that schedule may not be reliable in terms of how things actually shake out, leading to poor shift coverage and a great deal of frustration for both parties - management and employee.
Over the last few years, many states and municipalities have raised their minimum wage, but this has resulted in a loss of profits for businesses due to the ever-changing rise in labor costs. Then, there's the fact that labor lawsuits are becoming increasingly common, which naturally affects businesses' ability to pay workers.
As a result of mandates that came into play since the Affordable Health Care Act was implemented, many workers elect to leave employers who cannot provide them with enough hours for employers who can, or they opt for situations in which multiple employers can fit their requirement for working hours.
Retail workers also have a conspicuously low pay scale compared to other occupations, and they don't enjoy the tips that many of their peers in the food service industry count on. As such, many of these workers are continually on the lookout for bigger and better, or at least something that more closely fits their lifestyle.
All of the above contributes to a fairly high turnover rate within the industry, which further complicates scheduling.
Consequently, business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations are always on the lookout for resources, programs and utilities that might help to alleviate scheduling issues. This is particularly true for brands, which have the time and resources to test different methods for improving efficiency.
One of the methods that have proven favorable results in recent years is improving the process around employee scheduling, or rather, making this process more accommodating for workers, as well as more user-friendly for managers and employees alike.
Some employers have taken these considerations into account and are working to keep employees happy (within reason, of course). Acknowledging that market forces have placed equal if different burdens on employers and employees is definitely a start. Employers who are working to lighten those burdens rather than taking on an adversarial or unilateral posture stand to remain ahead of the game, leaning toward embracing the advancements in technology.
As we've seen in many industries (and in more and more facets of our lives), employers are now beginning to take advantage of mobile apps to improve employee scheduling practices. What they want is something that's user-friendly (on both the management and worker sides), low risk and reduced paperwork. Solutions need to be affordable for companies who don't have as deep of pockets as compared to their enterprise-level counterparts.
With novel employee scheduling software and apps, managers can gain a "big picture" overview of the organization's needs and schedule employees according to their availability, rather than agonizing over notepads, spreadsheets and notes scribbled on napkins or Post-Its.
When assessing these new utilities, some business owners and managers express concern over the amount of time they think adopting these new measures will take, like acquiring and testing various software, as well as the looming fear of a learning curve. Understandably, they're concerned that it will not have a big enough impact to efficiency and their bottom line, so they feel no need to invest their time and resources into experimentation.
Fear and concerns aside, the approach to improving current scheduling practices can be seen in this regard-
In this regard, a finely-tuned employee scheduling process is sort of like the $50 seal your auto mechanic says you need to avoid a $3000 repair bill- You can't afford not to.
What some decision-makers may not understand is that a solid scheduling process should be a matter of policy, and that such a policy should be crafted with efficiency in mind.
This is what makes the new mobile apps so attractive—they're specifically geared toward efficiency.
Using employee scheduling apps, a manager can easily standardize the scheduling process to the degree that it is far more straightforward on both ends. Workers provide their availability on one end, and managers input the organization's schedule on the other. Everything is done in real-time, and unexpected events can be addressed immediately within the system.
Other functions, such as keeping track of actual employee hours worked, are completely taken off of the manager's plate. It's painless for employees, and management’s energy is minimally taxed, leaving them free to focus on other areas of the business.
In fact, a recent study conducted with a major retailer employing a new mobile scheduling app revealed some pretty impressive numbers, with nearly two-thirds of part-time employees picking up extra shifts, over 90% of workers stating that the app made it easy to adjust work schedules to fit their needs and over 95% of workers indicating that the system allowed them to more easily get more hours when they wanted them.
Having a handle on employees' scheduling needs, being willing to accommodate them and having the tools to effectively do so is a key factor in efficiency and retention. More importantly, it reinforces the idea that the employee is a valuable part of the team. This factor figures prominently in the general outlook and attitude an employee has about the organization, as well as their part in its future.
As many managers and employees have related, streamlining the scheduling process with mobile scheduling apps while eliminating unknowns and the potential for human error can go a long way toward improving an organization's overall efficiency while helping to keep morale high and turnover low.