On why optimised scheduling is key to operational performance.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… or rather, what one might call Christmas. This story begins with two store managers in the crux of the busiest period in the retail calendar. Let’s call them Richard and Charles. Both manage very large and well-known storefronts for the same retail giant in West (Richard) and East (Charles) London.
Recently, the East London store was selected to conduct a trial of a new workforce management solution. It’s been in place for one month. As Christmas approaches, HQ launch an employee survey to check engagement and happiness of their teams across both stores.
‘Lots of people are requesting shift changes. It’s difficult to keep track of who asked for what.’
‘Overtime hours are great, but I’ve been having issues with being paid the correct rate.’
‘Christmas is really busy and so breaks are hard to come by. Sometimes I don't get paid for the breaks I don't take, and then have to take it on with my manager.’
‘Ever since trialling the new app, it has been easy to accept shifts and view my rota no matter where I am’
‘I feel as though our rotas are much fairer now, especially on weekends’
As a result, HQ calls a meeting to address the situation. They dig a bit deeper and find the following issues:
Lack of forecasting
Richard was trying to manage the weekly budget across the store according to the demand he himself was physically seeing in store traffic. Scheduling based on gut-feel can lead to over and under-staffing, resulting in increasingly disengaged staff.
Richard struggles to schedule breaks, as there are not enough staff available to perform cashier responsibilities. Many team members go without eating or try to eat their food in front of customers. This goes against the usual company policy of not eating while on the shop floor, and perhaps even more importantly – is violating the contractual agreements that entitle employees to a proper rest.
On the other hand, Charles has been able to Autoschedule breaks, ensuring that his staff are being provided with adequate rest time. His employees are happy that they are able to leave the store without feeling guilty about filling up on Christmas Sandwiches from Pret. Minimum contract hours and European Working Time Directive requirements are always adhered to.
When Richard’s store is understaffed, he’ll often ask employees to come in last-minute. Some team members then end up exceeding their contracted hours, resulting in overtime payments that cost the store a significant amount of money. There have also been numerous complaints that staff are not receiving the correct overtime payments, and HQ are receiving calls from employees querying their pay.
Charles understands the importance of budgets, which is why the new scheduling solution highlights forecasted sales data along with daily budgets so that he can ensure that his rotas are within the guidelines of what is considered financially sustainable. He doesn’t worry about employees being paid incorrectly - he simply edits any employee shifts with the necessary pay codes and submit timesheets to payroll.
By creating his schedules manually, Richard finds it almost impossible to cater for everyone’s needs and preferences. Not being able to ensure a good work-life balance for all his team members results in disengagement - and eventually higher staff turnover rates.
Charles has seen an increase in employee satisfaction as employees have adopted the new solution and are engaging with the app, leaving him more time to focus on managerial duties. The app creates schedules that are fair towards all employees.
As a result of the above issues, the customer satisfaction of the West London store has dropped dramatically. Customers are providing a rating via the EFTPOS machine that shows a substantial drop in the value of their in-store experience.
Satisfaction remains high within the East London store, as employees continue to provide the exceptional standard of service that their customers are used to. *
*It’s important to note here that Charles appears to be very happy with himself, much to Richard’s dismay.
HQ have concluded that something needs to change. They were unsure that the new rota tool would yield enough benefits, but after comparing the two stores side-by-side – HQ determined that an optimised scheduling solution is crucial to their operational efficiency and that ultimately the operational costs incurred through poor scheduling can severely impact a company’s bottom-line.
And so, that concludes our Christmas tale of Charles and Richard – the two store managers who, although brilliant at their jobs, just can’t get by without a little help from their friends. Friends with solutions to issues around scheduling, such as those that we provide here at Rotageek; where we help customers create optimum rotas that incorporate all of the important aspects of compliance, fairness, and customer demand.
How do you prepare for seasonal retail peaks? Do you think that optimised scheduling has any bearing on operational efficiency? We’re interested to hear your thoughts!