4 Expensive Problems Created by Scheduling Your Staff Outside Their Availability.

This is how it starts: Your eyes dart back and forth from the blank schedule on your screen to the notebook filled with handwritten time-off requests from everyone, it seems.

Cheryl has an exam. Jeff’s grandma died. Erica’s sister is getting married in Mexico.

And yet your ears hear the sounds of a bustling restaurant or store: laughter, beeping debit machines, rushed footsteps in the aisles.

How will you get enough bodies on that floor, when everyone wants the weekend off?

Juggling availability and time-off requests—the fixed kind, like when Cheryl has her bio lab Tuesday afternoons; and the variable ones, the weddings, funerals, ski trips and birthdays—is an incredible feat for managers who do the schedule.

And while the sales numbers and your dwindling roster suggests you just need bodies on the floor (this is a business!), forget their availability…your gut knows scheduling against employee availability is apt to backfire.

How does it affect your team and your restaurant or store when you schedule against availability? What can you do to help ensure you won’t face that scenario?

The impact of ignoring availability and time-off requests

It’s easy, in the day-to-day of just getting customers in and out and smiling, to forget that your employees are people outside the store.

They have kids. They’re going to school. They live on McDonald Street and they have rent to pay.

And because their lives include both worlds—in and outside the store—they need some predictability.

When all of that is in flux and an employee gets scheduled to work a Monday even though they don’t have childcare that day, or you don’t let them off for that family reunion, several potentially devastating things begin to happen:

1. It’s not good for employee satisfaction.

The schedule is up. Employees race to see it and make notes, make sure they’re off when they need (or hoped) to be.

And then they see that they’ve got a Monday shift and they’re working all weekend, despite submitting their availability and time-off requests.

What happens?

To put it politely, employees are not happy.

In this Globe and Mail article about erratic and unforgiving scheduling for part-time workers, labor economist Jim Stanford says focusing on your business needs instead of employee needs is bad for morale.

“…If you’re treating people like a disposable input, you’re not going to elicit a lot of loyalty and creativity.

And that leads us to the next point.

2. It’s not good for customer satisfaction.

When you lose goodwill and loyalty, you also risk losing service standards among employees who, prior to time-off requests being ignored, were always happy to go above and beyond for customers.

Zeynop Ton, adjunct associate professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management has studied retail operations and says, in the same Globe article, that “lean staffing strategies” prioritized for business needs hurt companies more than they realize.

“…Employee morale is lower, turnover is higher, workers are not engaged, they make more errors and they’re not as productive.”

As Ton suggests, when employees aren’t happy, there’s a good chance they’ll walk.

3. It’s not good for retention.

Let’s take a look at this example from askamanager.org, in which an employee who works in fast food describes how the new store manager writes the schedule late, often the day before it starts, and schedules against employee availability.

It sounds like this worker already has one foot out the door.

In this article about outdated employment standards “holding workers hostage,” it’s clear there’s an upshot to keeping staff happy when it comes to their schedules.

At Costco Canada—where the national bulk goods chain ensures scheduling stability by guaranteeing full-time staff 40 hours a week and part-timers 25 hours, with schedules posted one week in advance—the company has “one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the industry—12 per cent, compared with the retail average of about 21 per cent.”

Ross Hunt, VP of Costco’s human resources in Canada, says employee-friendly scheduling “gives (workers) a better quality of life. And if they’re stable and they stay with us, it’s great for us, too,” he told the Star.

4. It’s not good for profits and sales.

When your resentful employees stay and don’t do their job up to standards, it impacts sales and profits.

When your employees leave, it impacts sales and profits because they take with them the dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars you’ve invested in their training, as well as a poor brand experience that could ultimately impact sales in other ways.

Ton, the MIT professor, says there’s a business case for treating staff well, more like assets rather than liabilities: “If you invest in your people, and complement that with a great work design so that people are productive and can do work without making errors…the result is better jobs, higher customer service, lower prices and great returns to shareholders.”

Now that’s it’s clear why scheduling against employee availability is more than just a faux pas, it’s bad for business, how can you foster employee-friendly scheduling?

How to schedule with staff needs in mind

An article about work schedule abuse highlights data released by the Employment Instability, Family Wellbeing and Social Policy Network (EINet) that shows, “46 per cent of women say their employer determines their work schedule without any of their input.”

For most managers, consistently scheduling against availability isn’t a method of operation. It’s an oversight or it’s seen as a one-off necessity, but it’s a slippery slope, and an expensive one as we’ve outlined above.

Thankfully, it’s almost completely avoidable with these three steps:

Select the link below to follow through to the rest of the article.

#Restaurants #Ameego #Scheduling
How does it affect your team and your restaurant when you schedule against availability? Here we look at 4 expensive problems that happen as a result.
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