In hospitality and retail, two industries so reliant on shift workers, piecing together a staffing schedule puzzle is always a balancing act between payroll control and adequate coverage. As managers, however, we sometimes get so caught up in the numbers that we often fail to create a truly effective schedule. We overlook the factors which will maximize productivity and profitability: the needs of our employees. I'd like to share the three elements a manager should consider before he or she can master the art of designing their best schedule.
I've seen, from industry experience and my re-invention of the traditional staffing agency model, how shift work employees are affected by the traditional scheduling process. The number of part-time workers has grown significantly due to the slowly recovering economy and a cultural shift in priorities as it relates to work. Managers must adapt to a new reality to keep productive staff motivated to perform and stay on the job...and much of it starts with taking an interest in how they want to work.
Here are three tips to getting the most from your employees through great scheduling routines.
1.What Does Their Ideal Schedule Look Like?
As is common for many shift workers, they have other obligations. Many that work in retail are also juggling school schedules. And plenty of weekend servers are pursuing other jobs during the week. Asking staff what their ideal schedule looks like is a great way to figure out exactly what they want. You may not be able to please everyone, but this is an essential step to finessing a schedule that works for your staff.
Their answers could be a surprise. A security guard who regularly works nights but covets the early morning shift that is so hard to fill. Or a sales person who has worked the last 16 Sunday’s in a row and would love the occasional Sunday off. Just asking is a start at showing staff how much you care. From there, a few small changes can make a big impact.
2. How Much Do Your Staff Want to Work?
The number of hours that employees want to work vs. the number of hours they are scheduled is one of the largest complaints of shift work. Each employee relies on a certain number of hours to maintain their life. It’s that simple.
Regularly ask your employees what their expectations are; they may have changed from their initial hiring period. Some are looking to cut back a day or two and others would gladly work overtime. Being upfront with staff about whether you can meet their expectations is key - even if you can’t meet them. The knowledge and consistency of a predictable schedule provides staff with the security they need to feel great about their job.
3. Who Do They Work Best With?
Finding patterns between supervisors and staff that get more quality work done when they are paired up - independent workers paired with more hands off managers, or people that thrive under a task driven supervisor.
The balance between getting things done and getting along is essential to seeing the best in your staff. And happiness is contagious. Working in an environment where people get along is crucial to job satisfaction.
As you begin your hiring, try adopting the scheduling practices that prioritize your shift workers' needs, in addition to budgets and business requirements. You'll experience a marked difference in their energy and likely a better return on your payroll investment.
Margaret Readings is CEO and Founder of Connect For The Best, a new-model agency re-inventing the way the service industry satisfies its staffing needs. Her expertise comes from 30 years of prior managerial and executive experience at high profile international hotels and she enjoys relating her unique perspectives to the students of Humber College's hospitality program in Toronto, Canada as an educator.