An employee calls in sick, and suddenly your entire schedule has to be reworked to cover his responsibilities.
A client calls with an urgent new project at the last minute, throwing your carefully budgeted timesheet into pandemonium.
Half your call center staff can’t make it to the office because of inclement weather, and your call wait times have ballooned, causing frustration for both staff and customers.
We’ve all had to deal with panic-inducing schedule problems like these. No matter what industry you’re in, scheduling snafus create havoc for teams and managers. And if you’re trying to build a schedule in Excel—or on paper—plan on spending several hours every week trying to get work done and deal with overwritten data issues.
Different industries face specialized kinds of scheduling problems, too, and that can make it even more difficult to find a solution that works in your specific situation. Here are a few common industry challenges:
Healthcare providers must meet mandated staffing minimums, and a no-show can put you at risk of non-compliance. Rigid schedules can cause morale problems, too, which means employees won’t be at the top of their game on the job.
Logistics and Transportation
New jobs may come up at odd hours or with little warning. Drivers may need to clock in at different locations, and companies need a way both to cover all available shifts and to provide accountability.
Customer support often requires 24/7 availability and strict limits on call length and wait time. Being short-staffed can cause customer satisfaction problems as well as morale and retention issues among your employees.
Rush orders and hang-ups in the production process can throw your production schedule off track, but you still need to provide adequate employee down time between shifts. Manufacturers need a reliable scheduling solution that can accommodate employee absences and staff turnover.
No matter what industry you work in, inefficient scheduling can create frustration for both employees and customers. If you’re still trying to maintain a functional schedule on paper or in Excel, it’s time to reconsider your options.
Why Paper and Spreadsheets Don’t Cut It Anymore
A Gallup poll found that 8 percent of voluntary turnover happens because of scheduling problems. That’s not a huge number, but let’s give it some perspective. More than half of employees want better work life balance, and would be willing to change jobs for more flex time. So that 8 percent who specifically cite scheduling as their reason for leaving may just be the tip of the iceberg. When you don’t have enough employees to cover the scheduled work, both customer relations and employee performance suffer.
Maintaining a schedule manually can get messy, especially when you run into challenges like these:
Influx of Work
Sometimes you can predict when more work than usual is going to come in and plan ahead. Other times, though, you get an influx of work you’re not expecting and you need to make last-minute adjustments to the schedule to meet demand.
A client cancels a job or a job ends up taking much longer than you anticipated. You need a solution for staying on schedule even when the day doesn’t go according to plan.
Even the most dedicated of employees have unexpected illnesses, car trouble, or other needs that come up. If your industry involves round-the-clock shifts, it’s not always easy to know which employees are available to cover vacancies while still receiving sufficient time off. And even if it doesn’t, unexpected employee absences can create problems if you don’t have sufficient staff to fill in.
Emergency Service Calls
When you receive emergency service calls from customers, you need to know at a glance who is available to take the work.
To effectively schedule around holidays, you need to know who has seniority for choosing vacation days, who is scheduled to work on which days, and how many extra team members you need to cover increased customer needs. If you hire extra staff, that’s twice as many schedules you need to coordinate to keep all shifts covered and employee needs met.
Every industry deals with turnover, and every new employee brings different expectations to your schedule. Shift preferences and availability change along with your team, and it’s not easy to keep track of who can work at what time when you’re using a spreadsheet or written schedule.
The bottom line is that schedule headaches happen. They’re part of doing business. But they don’t have to derail your day or your week. There’s a better way to accommodate changes than cutting and pasting.
How Digital Software Relieves Your Scheduling Headaches
Digital innovation isn’t just for business intelligence and customer service. It’s also for streamlining processes that simply take up too much of your time—like scheduling. Industries that rely on hourly workers need an efficient way to manage a schedule and communicate expectations to employees.
Here’s an example from the manufacturing world: A plant is tasked with producing three related products, using the same assembly lines, over multiple shifts. Knowing that certain shifts work better on one product can be a key part of scheduling the lines for maximum efficiency.
This is good for the bottom line. It’s good for managers who have a clear path to success. And it’s also beneficial for employees who want access to their schedules instantly and accurately.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways digital solutions can address your scheduling challenges.
Managers can save up to 75% of the time they spend on scheduling when they migrate from a manual system to a digital solution, according to Kyra Kuik of Planday. Think of all the work you could get done in that extra time.
Tech savvy employees often find it frustrating to rely on a schedule they can access only at work. With a mobile application, your employees can view their schedules anywhere, and they can also submit time-off requests remotely. Managers can respond to those requests on their mobile devices as well, making it easier to pivot quickly when a shift needs to be covered.
If your employees work in the field, they can clock in and out remotely via their mobile devices. This makes it easier to track when and where your employees have clocked in, provides an extra measure of accountability and facilitates less downtime.
Let’s say you’re scheduling service calls. You know you have several jobs that need to be addressed in a particular area. With your digital scheduling solution, you can take a look at a map, plan the shortest routes between each job, and assign them in the most efficient order, saving your employees time and mileage. And because you can do it all directly in the scheduling program, you’ve saved yourself time as well.
Text Message Updates
Once you schedule those jobs, you can send text updates to both the service person and the customer, letting them know about scheduled assignments and times. The same thing can happen through mobile apps via push notifications. There’s no excuse for not updating employees instantly.
Multiple Schedules for Different Locations
If you have multiple locations, you need to maintain separate schedules for each. But what if you have employees that work in both locations? Digital scheduling makes it easy to maintain multiple schedules while still allowing individual employees to view their day or week at a glance.
Whether you have ten employees or hundreds (or more), digital scheduling solutions make it easy to keep all of your employees informed, efficient, and satisfied. That’s a win for any manager’s KPIs and for the company’s bottom line.