In the past year there’s been a lot of conversation around the current state of the employer-employee relationship and how it has and will continue to evolve. Some believe that this ongoing evolution is due to changes in the employee’s expectations of their employers, while others believe that the changes are due to employees becoming more visible and vocal in presenting their previously suppressed expectations of employers. Either way, whether it's regarding their schedule flexibility, benefits options, development paths, or a host of other factors, employees want to be heard – and if they don’t feel that they are, they will leave.
Most organizations look at traditional ways that they can attract and retain talent like offering fair compensation, medical benefits, and paid time off. And, although those things are important, they have also become staples in total rewards strategies and are just not enough to satisfy today’s employees' desire to be supported holistically. According to MetLife’s 2019 Benefit Trends study, stressors such as personal finances, inefficiencies in process, managing personal or family health, or even managing personal commitments, can make or break an employee’s success at work and they look to their employers for help with things like work-life balance or managing their schedule. So, the question becomes, how can you support your employees in a holistic and valuable way?
The answer according to Michael Puck, HCM Strategic Advisor and former HR practitioner, is that there are 29 value factors that employees cherish, which roll up into 6 value categories that you can sprinkle into your total rewards strategy to meet employee’s expectations and stay competitive. Michael calls this the “Total Rewards Value Cocktail”, which is pictured below. At first glance you might wonder how you could possibly satisfy all these value categories with a total rewards package, but this concept isn’t just about adding new benefits options that you have an employee sign up for. Instead, it's more about optimizing processes or technology that you may already have in place to enable employees on a day-to-day basis – things like employee scheduling software, for example.
To provide you with a practical application of the Value Cocktail seen above, let’s stick with the employee scheduling example to see how even something simple can have a significant impact in all of the value categories outlined above.
Self-Actualization – Let employees control their schedules
This category may seem abstract at first, but it does make sense if you think about it in the general context of work and more specifically work schedules. Don’t you want to be in a position to have autonomy in how you get things done, influence what you work on, and have control of when or even where you work? Well, your employees do too!
One way you can give your employees the ability to impact these things is through their work schedules. Employee scheduling applications give employees more control over when and how they work. They allow employees to identify their availability and time preferences for shifts they want to work, swap, trade, claim open shifts, or even request coverage for shifts that they can’t work – giving them the autonomy to do all of this with little or zero management involvement. What’s even better is that this can work for all employees, both hourly and salaried.
Empowering employees to take the lead with their schedules has a positive impact on managers too. Think about it, if employees are able to manage their own shift swaps and coverage requests with managers only having to approve them versus not only having to take the time to manage but also figure out how to accommodate and enter the changes, this will save them a ton of time and stress. It’s really a win-win. And it gets even better if you can make your staff schedules accessible through mobile devices – which is part of what we’ll talk about next.
Experiences – Deliver schedules employees can use
The experience employees have with technology at work is one of the first impressions that they use to make assumptions about your organization, which makes it an important part of employee engagement and the overall employee experience. According to HR Dive, workers at organizations that lag behind on the technology front are 450 percent more likely to want to leave than workers at tech leaders.
So, ask yourself the following questions as they relate to your own organization: Is the technology that employees utilize in their day-to-day easy to use? Does it make their life easier? Are they able to be autonomous to accomplish the simplest tasks, like picking up open shifts at a moment’s notice or resolving scheduling conflicts? If you’ve answered no to any of those questions it may be time to consider evaluating a solution that will change your answer to yes.
Let’s be honest, if you have had to actively convince employees to use a solution that is clunky or not intuitive you know that it's almost impossible to get them to use it, even if the process will actually save them time. This is especially true when it comes to employee schedules as there’s almost always some urgency when employees request time, trade shifts, or take an open shift.
It’s critical to not only have an automated scheduling solution, but also to have one that is well-designed so that employees, regardless of their role, can easily perform important tasks in the mobile formats they’re used to, receive push notifications to stay in the loop on changes, and ultimately just use the scheduling app effectively. A better experience with the technology used day in and day out can lead to greater employee empowerment and engagement for your organization which can make a big impact on productivity, retention and your bottom line.
Traditional Value Currencies – Connect scheduling to your wider HR processes
As was pointed out earlier, paid time off, medical benefits, and a fair compensation are part of simple, traditional total rewards strategies. Since these are staples in the strategy, it's important that you get them right. So, to keep going with our example, as changes are made to schedules and things like time-off requests and overtime are approved, they should be reflected in the time and attendance, scheduling, and payroll applications you use to ensure employees are paid correctly every pay period.
Going back to the need for a well-designed solution, this whole process should be transparent, follow a clear approval workflow, and be an overall very light lift from an administrative perspective if you’re using a strong Human Capital Management platform, ultimately making your life easier instead of adding administrative headaches. Keep in mind that responsive design is a huge advantage here too, allowing any pay changes or schedule change notifications to be delivered via your employees’ mobile devices and providing real-time data to managers, making it easy for them to access HCM information wherever and whenever they need it.
Work-Life Integration – Bring experience and self-actualization together
Work-life balance has been a topic of discussion for a while now. Everyone is busy, and many employees find striking the right balance between the demands of work and personal life a top stressor that affects employee success at work. Employees look to their organization to help address this, and now expect that employers will relieve some of their stress by giving them more control over their schedules and the flexibility to balance out their work and personal time. This ultimately leads to more engaged and satisfied employees across the board.
In order to provide your employees with that flexibility you will need to rely on technology to help manage this. A strong automated employee scheduling software will not just allow employees to perform a variety of different actions to manage their work schedule through self-service, like browse and take on open shifts, swap shifts, or request coverage, but will also serve up a list of available and qualified employees to take on those shifts based on criteria like skills, certifications, minimum/maximum hours worked, labor costs, etc. In addition, employees should have the added flexibility of performing all of those self-service tasks on a desktop, from a mobile app on the go, or by syncing their schedule to their Google calendar or Outlook calendar to bring the information somewhere they access more frequently.
Another point to consider is the laws that have been enacted to avoid disruption to schedules and work-life balance in several states, which dictate how many days out a schedule can be changed without an employee’s permission. Again, a strong employee scheduling application that’s part of a larger unified HCM system will allow you to enforce this, and other policies, with little administrative effort.
Growth – What to aim for
We just discussed the importance work-life balance, and this very closely plays into the ability to give employees the opportunity to grow. Providing your employees with the flexibility to work around development and learning opportunities that they want to take advantage of, like taking an enrichment class, attending a seminar, working towards additional certifications, volunteering, etc. is part of the holistic support employees value.
If employees (and managers, for that matter) are being encouraged and given growth opportunities, even if it doesn’t directly impact their role, they will feel happier and more fulfilled, which in turn can have a very positive effect on their role. The MetLife study referenced earlier validates this as they found that happier employees are significantly more loyal, engaged, productive, impactful, and successful than their unhappy counterparts. All those different schedule-related points we’ve gone over up to this point are a great way to get practical about how you enable this kind of growth on an ongoing basis.
Conclusion: Sometimes things seem much more complicated than they are
Creating a total rewards package that your employees will value is not as hard as you think. Remember, employees want to be seen and supported holistically, so providing them with work-life balance, easy to use technology, supporting their growth as a person and respecting their time goes a long way. Things that you already do today to manage your workforce, like implementing employee scheduling software, can address all of those needs. Maybe you’ll need to tweak some policies or look at updating your human capital management solution, but it will be well worth it in the long run as you will have happier employees and an employee experience that differentiates your organization.