Why scheduling and forecasting are more important now than ever
For manufacturing, retail, hospitality, healthcare, or any other industry that depends on hourly workers, having sophisticated scheduling and forecasting tools is essential. Explore the advantages of using workforce scheduling and forecasting software to minimize operational risk while paving the way for greater productivity and profits.
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Being ready for change means having the ability to plan for fluctuating demand and respond to market fluctuations, but this is still a major challenge for many organizations. Unfortunately, this leaves millions of hourly employees with unpredictable work schedules that can make it difficult for them to earn a living wage. Not only does this kind of instability lower employee satisfaction and increase turnover, but it also makes it harder for companies to keep their operations running.
If you’re in manufacturing, retail, hospitality, healthcare, or any other industry that depends on hourly workers, having sophisticated scheduling and forecasting tools is essential. In addition to fueling proper workforce management by creating optimal schedules that better meet the needs of employees, they also help minimize operational risk while paving the way for greater productivity and profits.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages of using workforce scheduling and forecasting software.
Controlling labor costs with data-driven decision-making
Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and staffing challenges continue to plague many organizations, resulting in serious inefficiencies. Payroll leakage is a great example. According to Deloitte, the average cost of annual payroll leakage is the equivalent of 2.5% of total payroll costs.
A common catalyst for that leakage is poor planning. For example, when a manager asks workers to extend their shifts to meet a particular need, this triggers overtime pay, when a more cost-efficient option would be to simply assign shifts to others at their normal rates.
To overcome challenges like these and control labor costs, organizations would be wise to use real-time labor data to help inform their decision-making. With proper forecasting, leaders can create schedules that actually work and that give employees greater flexibility and control. By planning and implementing demand-based schedules that minimize the potential for over- and understaffing, you can better manage labor costs and stay on budget. That, in turn, can contribute to topline growth, while limiting the likelihood of costly mistakes.
Promoting visibility and agility
In today’s volatile climate, organizations need systems that make change easier, while also delivering real-time workforce intelligence. That includes actionable insights into potential staffing challenges that can negatively impact your people, production, and overall customer satisfaction.
Hourly workers are often happy to pick up additional shifts outside of their schedule. Workforce scheduling software can support this flexibility by empowering employees to help build their own schedules and swap shifts with their peers, while automating all scheduling rules. This visibility also drives more agile operations by giving real-time workforce intelligence to your managers, and better visibility into people assignments across locations, departments, or production lines.
Having this kind of technology-driven flexibility can increase customer and employee satisfaction as well as overall operational efficiency. Plus, the right scheduling solution can use set rules to ensure that managers remain compliant with changing regulations and don’t schedule workers outside of their parameters, thus opening the business up to potential legal risks.
Of course, even the best schedules require on-the-fly edits to account for unexpected demand, absences, or even inclement weather. But by eliminating the administrative burden and inefficiencies of using disparate manual systems to create and adjust work schedules, you can make those changes while also creating a better work experience. Doing so also frees up managers and HR leaders’ time so they can focus on more strategic initiatives.
Creating a resilient workforce
One of the keys to becoming an employer of choice in today’s competitive labor market is putting people first. Yet so many factors in a typical workday can contribute to a negative employee experience. That includes burdening staff with inefficient manual processes, unfair scheduling practices, not paying people the right amount or on time, or failing to give them the flexibility needed to plan their lives outside of work. Issues like these can result in burnout, poor work-life balance, financial stress, and unnecessary churn.
Workforce management systems can help by enhancing the employee experience, increasing engagement, and eliminating many of the friction points that might otherwise make them look elsewhere for work. Among the best ways to empower and retain frontline workers is by partnering with them to create fair, flexible schedules, rather than mandating that they adhere to ones that don’t actually fit into their lives.
Empowering employees can lead to substantial results. According to research from Gallup, highly engaged teams report higher rates of wellbeing (66%), lower rates of absenteeism (81%), and increased profits (23%) relative to less engaged teams. Meanwhile organizations that use workforce scheduling and forecasting software report reductions in turnover of between 30% and 60%.
Give scheduling and forecasting the attention it deserves
Organizations that depend on hourly workers face a variety of workforce management challenges. But with the right technology, you can overcome those challenges while gaining the visibility, agility, and resilience you need to properly forecast your staffing needs and schedule your workers accordingly. The result is happier, more engaged employees, lower risk, and an easier path to profitability.