Creating, editing and disseminating schedules can often feel like a time-consuming, hurried and reactive process. However, by utilising data-driven scheduling you can accurately forecast far into the future; empower employees to have greater input into their schedules; and be proactive in making important business strategy decisions.
Why data-driven scheduling?
Scheduling and data-driven demand forecasting are inextricably linked. To create an optimal schedule, you need to understand the demand that your staff have to meet. Many managers rely on gut instinct to predict demand. However, technology now far surpasses intuition. Powerful demand engines can forecast in a precise and intelligent way - to the week, day or, in Rotageek’s case, to the 15-minute interval. In one click of a button, Rotageek can then match staff to meet this demand.
Here at Rotageek, we have identified five key long-term benefits of utilising data-driven scheduling:
1. Increased customer loyalty: great in-store experiences through improved service
Scheduling to an accurate forecast means you are more likely to have the right person, in the right place, at the right time to serve your customers. This allows your team to create authentic connections that are unhurried, meaningful and will ultimately increase customer loyalty and retention. At a time when business is migrating to the online realm, the value of personal communication and positive in-store experience is essential.
2. Strategic foresight: using data to proactively resolve issues before they arise
Accurate long-term forecasting allows you to be more proactive about pressing staffing decisions.
If you can can accurately predict demand you are equipped to make hiring and holiday decisions well in advance. You will therefore avoid the pitfalls of pressuring employees into last minute overtime, or using ‘just-in-time’ scheduling (scheduling or cancelling staff rotas on hours before they start), which has proven negative effects on well-being.
A good scheduling system will integrate information, for example leave, seamlessly into the scheduling model. This allows you to see when leave requests are building up and to use leave forecasts to predict how much cover you will need to meet seasonal demand. This will avoid a Ryanair style scheduling crash, which is debilitating both to internal operations and brand perceptions.
3. Improved employee morale: creating more consistent, manageable workloads
Precise forecasting ensures that staff can focus on their work in a consistent and measured way. This avoids the counterproductive situation in which individuals can be both underworked and overburdened in the same day. For employees the lack of visibility in fluctuations of trade can be unsettling.
In a report Rotageek conducted, half of those interviewed explicitly said that not being able to predict the number of employees needed had negative impact on staff morale. Having a transparent demand model allows staff to understand the peaks and troughs of trade, and scheduling to meet demand means employee’s workflow is more manageable and consistent.
4. Empowered employees: a key step to modernise workplace culture
Data-driven scheduling can help empower employees. Employees can input their availability and preferences, all of which are taken into account by dynamic scheduling algorithms. Fairness is a key component of scheduling and the complete lack of agency that many employees experience over their own work patterns can be alienating and damaging. The top-down, dictative model of unilaterally designating shifts to staff must be replaced by a more sustainable, intelligent and interactive way of apportioning work.
5. The bottom line: more accurate staffing through demand matching scheduling
Data-driven scheduling will save your business money. Using machine learning, agile software and AI, Rotageek predicts demand precisely and then schedules staff to meet this demand. This reduces the time it takes to create, edit and disseminate a rota from hours to seconds. More importantly, matching staffing to the demand curve can save 5–10% of retailers’ labour cost, whilst only using 0.5% of the staffing budget—a tenfold return on investment. This allows your business not only to reduce wastage, but also reinvest the savings into those areas that further produce valuable ROIs: staff training, development and benefit programmes.
Data-driven scheduling is a far-sighted investment that can help bring stability, increased engagement, and confidence to your business. The focus of scheduling should not just be on shop-cover accuracy. Data-driven scheduling is a strategic business tool able to empower everyone interacting with staffing, from head office through to shift planners and shop staff—leading to more engaged employees, more loyal customers, and more efficient long-term business operations.