With a shrinking labor pool, growing competition, and increasing wages, logistics organizations are facing a new era in which labor management is more crucial than ever. Even Amazon is struggling to meet the labor demand. Despite much of the tedious and repetitive work being automated for workers, managers are still manually creating schedules from scratch. This blog will dive into why distributors should rethink their scheduling practices and utilize their workforce data to benefit their customers and employees.   

Why Your Schedules Are Such an Important Asset 

Keeping workers content should be a top priority in a job market where an unhappy employee can seek work elsewhere if their needs aren’t met. For distributors, scheduling an employee outside of their preferred work hours can lead to a series of unforeseen consequences. If the employee can’t make it into work on time for their shift, possibly due to external factors in their personal lives, they will, of course, not be pleased. Their coworkers who had to make up for the lost productivity that day will likely feel annoyed and that they’re being overworked. The manager who made the schedule may be displeased with the employee because the manager doesn't keep track of their employees’ preferences, which makes finding a replacement difficult. The employees’ work will suffer, and the company may not get all the shipments for the day out on time, resulting in lost productivity. Once the customer realizes that their order is late, even they will be affected by this schedule and feel that they should take their business to Amazon or another competitor who will be able to get shipments to them in only a day or two. Creating an arbitrary schedule based on the manager's best judgement rather than what would work best for everyone involved has now led to a chain of events that may drive away both customers and employees. With the average cost to replace and onboard a warehouse employee at about $7,000, events like these can be felt across the whole company. 

Person using forklift

How Can You Avoid These Situations? 

Creating a flexible, worker-friendly workplace can help make scheduling issues a thing of the past. In our analyses, we often come across businesses where different locations have wildly different scheduling practices across locations and where overall schedule adherence is extremely low.  

Schedule Adherence is a metric for the percentage of employees adhering to their assigned schedules. The visual below shows schedule adherence  compared across sites.   

Your organization should be leveraging the data already being collected by your timekeeping systems to improve these processes. Visualizing trends by week or month across various departments and locations is a great way to figure out where schedules are being worked accurately and where new methods might need to be put into place. Understanding what is truly going on in each section of the business can provide a huge leg up on managing your workforce.  

At the same time, unpredictability will always be a factor when scheduling for large groups of people. An unforeseen event  can cause an employee to miss a shift, which puts pressure on the manager to find another employee to cover the shift. Having a resource that can recommend other workers available to cover that shift  makes employee scheduling much easier for the manager, and the employee who missed work won’t have to worry about their job security. This type of flexibility will not go unnoticed and can be a leading factor in employee satisfaction. The younger generation that will be joining your labor pool will also have different scheduling needs than much of the existing workforce and meeting those needs will make them feel valued within your organization. If your workforce management software can easily handle and help users quickly deal with these situations, you will always be one step ahead.  

The Benefits of Pairing Advanced Analytics with Employee Scheduling

Naturally, using a solution that can be configured for your workforce’s needs and use AI and Machine Learning technology to predict your optimal schedule will help to improve the employee experience. Keeping your employees’ preferences saved within your system and building the schedule based upon when and how your employees want to work is beneficial for everyone involved. Having data analytics built into your workforce management technology will not only help to keep your workforce engaged and increase retention, but will also allow you to address the root cause of issues within your organization. Becoming an employer of choice starts with listening to and meeting the needs of your employees to create a worker-friendly culture. 

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Published: Tuesday, February 25, 2020