A POS system screen with scheduling blocks on the screen.

Modern scheduling realities you need to consider for hourly employees

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Revamping employee work schedules for increased productivity and job satisfaction

Undeniably, the landscape of work has shifted significantly in the past decade, particularly with technological innovations in teleconferencing as well as establishing effective remote working options during the pandemic. As a result, the current state of work in the United States is largely defined by the “Great Resignation” with many people leaving their jobs in record numbers. As a result, employers are needing to reconsider what daily schedules look like for their employees, and how they can provide the best working environment for retention and long-term work commitment.

More and more, available jobs include flexible work options, whether shifting the expected business hours, the days of the week the employee reports to work, and how work time is organized over the course of a work week. Changes to workday expectations impact hourly employees the most, especially since they are compensated based on the number of hours they take to complete their projects. This article will review critical strategies and considerations that employers should consider when supporting their hourly employees, or employees who typically complete shift work. An openness to restructuring your business’s shift schedule will likely result in increased satisfaction and more appeal to work at your place of business.

What should I consider as an employer?

Hourly schedules have been historically posted on a large board in the back office with the expectation that once the schedule is set, it is final. Yet, employers have learned over the years that flexibility is one of the primary ways you can show concern for the external needs of your hourly employees. Moreover, the modern world has changed how hourly workers engage in their work, often requesting more flexibility, autonomy, and clarity in their workload.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you develop a more modern approach to scheduling at your business.

  • Work life balance. Traditionally, hourly employees have organized their life outside of work based on the schedule they are provided within the workplace. However, when employees have more autonomy for when they work, it is shown that they will have lower rates of absenteeism and have more engagement since they are selecting the schedule that works best for them. Promoting work-life balance helps your employees to be whole persons, including maintaining relationships and interests outside of work. Instead of automatically issuing schedules, it may be worthwhile utilizing a schedule template where employees can sign up for their preferred shifts or time periods for work.
  • Financial wellness. Small businesses have the important task of managing cash flows on a regular basis to make sure the financial bottom line is being met. As part of the bottom line, it may be worth considering the financial wellness of your employees as part of the business’ operation and model for sustainability. Using MS Excel to run various financial scenarios, you may consider budgeting higher wages that will ensure that employees want to stay with your business for the long-term.
  • Recognizing strengths. Weekly schedules that honor employee strengths and preferences will likely contribute to a more engaged workforce with the sense that employers want them to work at their best. For example, some employees prefer and want to work night shifts (others do not). Some employees may want to work longer days and less days over the course of the week. Some full-time employees may want to work an alternative schedule that includes days that don’t fall during the work week. Whatever the situation may be, it is worth exploring the preferred schedule of your employee and how it can align with the existing work schedule template your business uses regularly.
  • Engagement for all employee types. Modernizing schedules should not only be available for full-time or salaried employees. Instead, all employees should have the opportunity to contribute to the employee schedule template, even if working as a gig employee or as a part-time worker. When engagement exists throughout your entire workforce, you will have a stronger culture around workplace expectations that will attract future employees to want to be a part of your operations and brand.
  • Understanding the vast options when it comes to modern scheduling. Modern scheduling goes beyond making small changes to the hourly schedule template. In fact, this often involves an overhaul of old systems to offer new systems that take into account business needs and employee preferences. A common denominator in all flexible scheduling for hourly employees is the emphasis on scheduling flexibility. Some of the increasingly popular schedule changes have included:
    • Compressed workweeks. This type of schedule involves a distribution of work hours to minimize the amount of days worked. For hourly employees, this might mean working 8-10 hours a couple times a week versus working 4 hours over the course of several days.
    • Customized work schedule. This type of arrangement involves the employee flexing their time to work when it is best for them. Perhaps they have concerns with childcare or other responsibilities that prevent them from working at certain times; and so, instead, they can report for work when it is best for them.
    • Remote working. This work arrangement is one of the most popular, especially with the shifts required during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote working involves an employee completing their tasks from a remote location, usually on a semi-permanent or permanent basis. Work can be done from anywhere, without any requirement of the employee’s location. Some industries have been able to adapt to this seamlessly. Other industries, for example manufacturing, have not been able to instill this work model since much of the work needs to be done on an in-person basis.
    • Part-time roles. Some companies offer a mix of full-time and part-time positions to diversify their workforce. Some employees may have several positions, and so working part-time is their preferred job structure. These types of workers may work certain time slots that fit their schedule. Part-time workers often have more discrete tasks or responsibilities and have to be excellent in time management skills.
    • Job sharing. Job sharing is an arrangement that divides the work of a full-time position to multiple part-time employees. The work will be divided over the course of a given week, perhaps managed through a weekly schedule template, a Google sheet, or regularly updated to-do lists. Technology can support this type of arrangement through the automatic generation of a schedule maker so the expectations for employees are clear for everyone involved.
    • Paid time off (PTO). Adding an increased amount of PTO will be a major draw for many employees. The ability to be paid for not working will instill a culture of working hard when on the clock, ensuring that all responsibilities are taken care of.

Legal and compliance issues

When introducing modern approaches to employee scheduling, it is necessary to prepare for special circumstances that may arise. For example, if your business has a particularly busy season, you may need to make temporary changes to meet business demand. Generally, though, by implementing a modern approach to scheduling, you are involving employees in the process and ensuring balance for labor demands in your market. As you continue to navigate this process, it is not uncommon to face specific legal and compliance issues.

For example, as an employer, you will want to continue to track overtime as hourly employees may be non-exempt and will get extra pay for additional hours worked, according to federal regulations. Additionally, you will also want to track PTO, vacation time, and sick time so you are prepared for planned absences and also are providing the adequate amount of benefits for your team. For remote workers who are working out of state (or even out of country), you will want to make sure you understand compliance related to taxes, compensation, and any regulatory oversight that exists for the industry of your business.

The impact of modernity

Different businesses have different needs when it comes to scheduling, and so it’s crucial you identify these needs ahead of time. As you promote more modern approaches to business operations, you will want to incorporate modern technology tools so that flexibility can be offered without draining your own resources and time. Ultimately, you will be able to draw more employees to your company and instill a culture of openness, flexibility, and creativity that will spark enhanced outcomes for all.

Next steps

Are you ready to take the next steps in providing more flexibility with your scheduling? Are you ready to incorporate modern scheduling tools to support these efforts?

Heartland is ready to help.

Heartland helps nearly 1,000,000 entrepreneurs make and move money, manage employees and engage customers with human-centered technology solutions that allow them to rise above the daily grind and lead their businesses into a brighter future. Learn more at heartland.us.