OK, so you’ve got a great scheduling system, a fantastically skilled and motivated workforce, and enough business to keep everyone busy for a long time. Now, how do you get the word out that a new schedule is ready? Or that shift times have changed? Or that a new shift is available, etc? If you’re not focusing on communication for workforce management systems, you’re overlooking a number of missed opportunities.
A comprehensive workforce management system will anticipate your scheduling and time & attendance needs with respect to communication, and present tools for proactively sharing the relevant information to those employees and managers who need it in a convenient, timely manner.
Effective communication saves your company time and money, promotes employee satisfaction and retention, assists you in complying with federal, state/provincial, and union regulations, and helps provide a safe working environment.
Here are 10 benefits of communication features within a workforce management platform that can help your organization.
1. Distribute schedules easily
Once you finalize your schedule, you can distribute it in a number of ways. Of course, you can print the schedule and post it for employees to read. However, this method is prone to error and miscommunication especially when the schedule changes. Some platforms have email notification features, where employees will receive schedule updates via email. Many systems are also web-based, so employees can access their schedules anytime.
2) Allow employees to self-schedule themselves
Let’s say that an upcoming shift suddenly becomes open when an employee becomes sick. One of the most useful scheduling features a platform can offer is self-scheduling. You can “push” the open shift and allow employees to schedule them in if they are available. It’s a great way to ensure shift coverage and employees can easily pick up shifts on their own.
3) Notify employees of changes to their shifts
When an employee’s schedule must change, as a result of a shift that has been added, dropped, or changed (e.g., new start and/or end times), the scheduling system can automatically notify the employee through a text, email message, and/or portal/app notification. An acknowledgement feature will show that the employee saw, or didn’t see, those changes.
4) Let employees indicate they cannot work a shift
If an employee cannot work a shift they have been scheduled for, a notification feature can tell the supervisor, manager, or scheduler about the employee’s unavailability to work the shift so that they can find a replacement before it is too late.
5) Let employees find other staff to take a shift that they cannot work
Employee-to-employee messaging provides the opportunity for someone to find a fellow worker who can take their shift.
6) Alert managers if an employee is late, or early, or doesn’t check-in/out
Time and attendance features in your workforce management platform allow your team to receive automatic alerts. For example, Employees will get reminders before shifts, for example. On the other hand, if any employee is late or forgets to check-in and out, the manager will receive an alert.
7) Enable employees to confirm that they are safe, or starting/ending a break
For employees in remote locations, especially when they are working alone, it is important for them to be able to let others know that they are safe. A safety check feature in the system shows a time-stamp once the employee has checked in as “safe”, so that in the event that a regular safety check is missed, measures can be taken by the company to ensure that all is OK.
8) Give employees an opportunity to review and confirm or dispute time card information
Once check-in and check-out data has been entered via time clock, mobile app, interactive voice response (IVR), and/or manual time sheets, portal and app features allow employees to see the time recorded in the system for their worked shifts. If they disagree with any of the system time card records, then they can automatically notify their supervisor or manager to request a review of that shift.
9) Give employees a method to enter availability and request time-off, and see how much time off they have accrued
Advanced, rules-based scheduling systems often take into account employees’ availability (e.g., a student that is only available to work weekends and some evenings) and allow employees to enter time-off requests for review and approval by supervisors and/or HR, etc. Some systems also show the employee and the supervisor the amount of time-off accrued so that they will know how much time is available for a vacation or personal time-off, among others.
10) Provide person-to-person intra-company messaging without using the employees’ personal email or text messaging services
Often, it is necessary for one employee to quickly and easily message another employee or supervisor for a work-related issue of any kind. Advanced workforce management systems sometimes have built-in messaging features so that personal or work email/text messaging is not required. Having this within the employee portal or app makes this very easy and convenient.