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Workforce scheduling vital for productivity

06 Aug 2015

Nearly half of Australian and New Zealand employees are disengaged from their employer and their job, according to new research from WFS Australia, who says this is causing decreased productivity and increase absenteeism.

The company says workforce scheduling is vital if businesses want to improve employee engagement. 

“Scheduling can help employers engage staff by letting employees choose their hours,” says Leslie Tarnacki, vice president human resources and general manager, WFS Australia.

“This can help them feel more in control, increasing employee loyalty, productivity and help improve an organisation’s overall performance.”

Tarnacki says, “Surprisingly, 75% of organisations don’t have an employee engagement strategy. This can impact the company brand, making it more difficult to attract and retain qualified talent.

“The costs of rehiring can be significant. Organisations need to use workforce scheduling to deliver an effective employee engagement strategy,” says Tarnacki.

WFS Australia has identified four scheduling techniques to improve employee engagement:
1. Create transparency
Tarnacki says employees can better manage their time when they have visibility of schedules, upcoming corporate holidays, and personal days,. “Organisations can create transparency by notifying employees of changes as early as possible. This demonstrates mutual respect for employees and employers.”

2. Understand unavailability
Capturing information about when employees are unable to work saves time and reduces scheduling errors, Tarnacki explains. It also creates peace of mind for employees who can commit to plans outside of work.

“Businesses that let workers indicate their unavailability, whether for a single shift or many weeks, can help to improve engagement levels and encourage balance in working hours and time off,” says Tarnacki.

“This also eliminates the need to wait for manager approvals each time there is a scheduling conflict. This brings greater efficiency to the scheduling process and helps cut administrative costs.”

3. Recognise preferences
“Letting employees register their preferred work hours helps managers see the overlap between the company’s ideal employee hours and employees’ preferred hours,” explains Tarnacki. “This helps to improve employee satisfaction and engagement.”

Tarnacki says taking employee preferences into account can make a strong statement about an organisation’s values. “Businesses must define which factors take precedence and apply them consistently, such as offering available shifts to more senior workers before newer employees. 

“A clear process appears fairer to employees, helping to minimise disengagement.”

3. Allow swaps
Automated scheduling systems let employees swap shifts with a qualified peer,  which gives them more control over their work schedules. Managers can still have authority to approve swaps, receiving email notifications when changes are submitted.

Tarnacki says, “Increasing workplace flexibility by letting employees manage their own shift swaps gives employees greater control over working hours and ensures the shift is covered to maintain business outputs.”

4. Plan ahead
Anticipating and addressing fluctuations in demand and worker availability ensures adequate staffing levels for upcoming periods, Tarnacki explains. “This helps to give managers a ‘right-sized’ team to meet client, project, and budget goals.

“Scheduling technology with automated bidding lets employees bid for shifts and time off well in advance.

“This scheduling technique helps to increases participation, transparency and engagement.”

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