For a lot of industries such as hospitality and retail, the holidays are a particularly busy, and rather stressful period. While every business owner loves seeing business booming, they also loathe having to deal with the issues that often come up at this time of year! Generally, these are employee scheduling problems!
Employee scheduling is a difficult, complex business function, even at the calmest of times. Throw in a global pandemic and the holiday season, and you have a recipe for disaster! For some, being short-staffed makes life difficult, while for others, simply staying on top of a busier schedule is enough to stress them out. However, like with most things in business, planning can help lighten the load.
Scheduling problems to expect during the holidays
There are 4 common scheduling problems that arise during the holiday season;
Understaffed & overwhelmed
When it comes to hospitality and retail, it is extremely common for businesses to hire temporary workers to meet the increased demand. While this may sound easy, we can assure you that it is not. Given the recent labor shortage as a result of the pandemic, holiday staffing is one of the scheduling problems facing businesses this year. In recent years, there has been a change in the demands of holiday workers. According to a study by Restaurant Business, flexible working hours and increased pay are two of the most important! As an employer, if you cannot offer either of these benefits to seasonal workers, you will struggle to hire. This will ultimately result in your current workforce being overwhelmed, which can lead to absenteeism, and possibly turnover.
Hiring the wrong employees
In some ways, this is related to the point above. Generally, when employers struggle to hire, they resort to hiring employees that may not be the right fit. While this is far from ideal at any time of the year, it is particularly damaging during the holidays. During a busy season, the ideal new employee will hit the ground running, take initiative, and show up when it matters. Hiring the wrong person can create more work for existing employees, and even affect employee morale.
Whether you’ve managed to hire the right number of employees or not, overtime is very common during the holidays as demand increases. Overtime is a common employee scheduling problem, and without the right resources, it can become very expensive. Not only that but resorting to overtime consistently will likely contribute to burnout and absenteeism amongst your employees, which is far from ideal at this time of year.
Complaints of bias from employees
Anyone that has ever worked in retail or hospitality during the festive season knows that there are certain days/shifts that you don’t want to work. For some, it’s the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday), or perhaps it’s Christmas eve? Either way, this can be very difficult to manage as a scheduler or manager. Regardless of who you schedule for when there will be complaints of bias or unfairness from your staff. Scheduling problems like this are hard to avoid without the right tools to get the job done!
How to avoid these scheduling problems during the holidays!
Employee scheduling during the holidays doesn’t need to be a huge burden. With the right tools, resources, and planning, you can get the job done, problem-free! Let’s take a look at how you can avoid common scheduling problems this festive season.
This one might sound obvious, but some managers/schedulers only think about the festive season once Thanksgiving rolls around. Everything from recruitment to scheduling should be fully thought out well in advance of the holidays. Work out how many temporary workers you will need, and start advertising these positions early. By advertising and interviewing earlier, you have time to search for the right candidates. With that, remember to include adequate time for training new staff if necessary, and hire them in plenty of time to allow for this. It also helps to build out holiday schedules, even without assigning employees, in order to get a scope of what the holiday schedules will look like.
Employee scheduling software
On top of planning ahead, having the right tools and resources on hand to help with scheduling over the holidays is key. The right employee scheduling software will reduce the risk of all of the scheduling problems above. Here at Celayix, we have the following features that can help you over the holidays;
Labor forecasting is a scheduler’s dream. It allows you to create ratios based on employees to guests, making it perfect for hospitality and restaurant schedulers. It helps you create a schedule with the perfect amount of shifts to optimize your workforce. This can save you both time and money while creating your holiday schedules! Create schedules much faster, and only schedule the staff you will truly need. This will avoid the scheduling problem we discussed above, of being understaffed, and overwhelmed.
As we mentioned above, the demands of temporary workers are changing. Being able to offer flexible scheduling allows schedulers to attract the top talent for the festive season. Celayix offers both self-scheduling, and shift bidding so that schedulers can decide how much control they have. Self-scheduling allows employees to claim open shifts on a first-come, first-served basis. Shift bidding, on the other hand, allows employees to express interest in claiming an open shift. Once all bids have been submitted, the scheduler has the final say on who the shift is assigned to. Flexible scheduling can help you attract new, top talent, and also improve the morale of employees, and reduce the likelihood of no-shows.
Speaking on no-shows, they are a common scheduling problem that crops up during the festive season. It’s cold and flu season, your employees are dealing with the public, so it’s not impossible to imagine them calling in sick. Some very organized schedulers may have created an on-call group of employees for every shift, but this in itself can be time-consuming and difficult to manage. Celayix offers a find replacement tool, that can find and suggest an available and qualified replacement for your no-shows in a matter of minutes. This reduces the stress of having to call around a whole bunch of employees before possibly finding a replacement employee.
As we mentioned above, it can be difficult to avoid the common scheduling problem of holiday overtime. Luckily though, Celayix has a rules-based engine that can help eliminate avoidable overtime! More often than not, overtime is a result of poor resource management. Without the right tools or knowledge, schedulers fail to see changes they can make that might eliminate overtime from the schedule. With the rules-based engine, schedulers can fill open shifts with employees that will not break overtime rules or any other business rules that they have created.
None of these features have addressed the scheduling problem of complaints of bias from staff. Thankfully, though, Celayix has even thought of that! Celayix offers artificial intelligence to aid schedulers in the creation of their schedules. Celayix AI can be used to fill shifts, based on your scheduling history, and best fit for the shift based on a number of factors. It can also offer further suggestions to improve your schedule once it has been created. However you choose to use AI to aid your scheduling, it is a great tool to use to avoid scheduling bias. This can be explained to employees, to reassure them that all shifts are being assigned fairly!
Video: Using Celayix AI as a Scheduling Tool
The best part about the Celayix platform is that you can use one, some, or all of the above features in the same schedule. Celayix offers complete flexibility and functionality to the scheduler to achieve the best employee schedule this festive season. If you’d like to avoid these common scheduling problems this festive season, or you’re planning early for next year, reach out to a solutions advisor today!