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► Retaining Employees Through Worker Friendly Schedules

Employees leave organizations for a variety of reasons. Especially in today’s market where unemployment is at a 17-year low, employers are becoming more and more concerned with employee retention. Vacancies are getting tougher to fill, making it even more of a concern when an employee leaves.

Turnover is costly and employers are always on the lookout for new strategies that may impact or improve employee retention rates. For example, one approach that may boost employee retention rates is how employee work hours are scheduled.

Many organizations that have shiftwork tend to create the shift schedule on a weekly basis, rotating or changing the staff’s weekly hours as needed to cover anticipated demand or other pressing concerns. The idea is that each week the schedule is optimized. However, there are a lot of downsides to this approach and some alternatives that could improve employee retention if implemented.

Recent research by TSheets regarding how shiftwork affects both employees and employers tells us that employees and employers are both losing money and are rightfully frustrated. The following information includes some of their findings, as well as some additional considerations for employers. More of the TSheets research methodology and results can be found here with their summary: https://www.tsheets.com/resources/shift-schedule-challenges

Let’s take a look.

How Ever-Changing Schedules Are Difficult For Employers

Here are some of the ways that changing schedules can impact employers:

  • A changing schedule may mean employees are more likely to call out of work in order to meet other obligations, leaving the employer to cover the shift, possibly at the last minute. This has real costs, to the tune of $633 per month ($7,500 per year).
  • Employees may get frustrated with the inability to have a consistent schedule (and all the headaches it causes—more on that below), and thus be more likely to look for another job.
  • It may be more difficult to hire top talent if applicants are wary of changing weekly hours.
  • It may be more cumbersome to administer benefit plans, if those plans are dependent on employees working a set number of hours. A fluctuating schedule means the total hours worked in a given time period may be tougher to predict.
  • Employers spend a lot of time—up to 12 hours each week—creating a unique schedule, and that is time that could be utilized doing other things.
  • Even when employees don’t leave, despite being unhappy with the scheduling, there can still be negative consequences for employers in the form of reduced employee morale.

How Ever-Changing Schedules Are Difficult for Employees

Unsurprisingly, changing schedules can also be difficult for employees:

  • Weekly schedule changes make it difficult to schedule child care, since a changing schedule may mean one provider cannot manage all  the employee’s needs.
  • It can be tough to plan social activities or pursue hobbies.
  • If the employee has another job, it can be nearly impossible to coordinate the hours at both if the hours at one are not consistent and there’s not a lot of notice of the new schedule each time it changes.
  • Inconsistent shiftwork can have negative health consequences. For example, changing schedules can make it difficult to get good sleep consistently or to find time for an exercise routine or to make nutritious meal choices.
  • Wages are lost when weekly shift changes mean the employee must call out of work to accommodate some other need (such as child care or preexisting commitments like school classes).
  • Transportation can be more difficult to arrange when the schedule shifts mean different routes or transportation methods must be utilized. (This may also increase costs or increase the likelihood of being late for work).

Why is this an HR Issue?

Not only are there direct employee and employer concerns as noted above, but this could also be a legal issue. “Predictive scheduling” is becoming mandatory in more and more places, so this is becoming an issue of compliance. (Predictive scheduling includes things like providing employee schedules at least 2 weeks in advance, reducing or eliminating last-minute schedule changes, and more. To see more about predictive scheduling, check this out: http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/01/24/what-is-predictable-scheduling).

Regardless of whether your organization is subject to legal requirements to implement more predictive scheduling, there are benefits to be had for employers and employees. Thankfully, there are options, including many great software choices that can simplify the entire process.

By Bridget Miller. Ms. Miller guest columnist and writer for BLR.


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