Employee scheduling in the security industry can be very complex. More often than not, schedulers are dealing with 100s of guards, across multiple sites, for multiple clients. There comes a point, as security companies grow, where manual scheduling processes no longer suffice. Not only that, but the security industry sees particularly high levels of no-shows/absenteeism, and employee turnover – both issues that are in some way or another related to employee scheduling. Here at Celayix, we have helped security companies grow by using our scheduling software. In particular, security companies see great benefits from using our flexible scheduling features. By far, the question we hear the most is self-scheduling vs. shift bidding, which is better?
What is self-scheduling?
Self-scheduling is a scheduling method where employees can claim open shifts on a first-come, first-served basis. Employers fill the schedule with open shifts and notify employees once they are available to be claimed.
What is Shift Bidding?
Shift bidding, on the other hand, is a scheduling method where employees submit “bids” on open shifts, if they are available and willing to work them. Those bids are then reviewed by the scheduler, who can decide which employee to assign to the shift.
Why should you use either?
Of course, you might be wondering why an employer would bother with either of these flexible scheduling methods. As a matter of fact, there are many benefits to using flexible scheduling, particularly in an industry with high rates of absenteeism & turnover. Before we look at self-scheduling vs. shift bidding
Reduced time spent managing schedules
The first, and perhaps most obvious reason that employers use self-scheduling or shift bidding is to reduce the time they spend managing schedules. The responsibilities of a security guard manager go far beyond scheduling. They include recruiting new guards, obtaining new clients/sites, training, and other operational tasks. If they can lighten the load in employee scheduling, they can redirect their resources to those other important tasks, and ultimately grow the company. This is also one of the main differences between self-scheduling vs. shift bidding, which we will touch on later.
Improved employee engagement
With both self-scheduling & shift bidding, your employees will feel empowered as they are actively involved in the schedule-making process. In fact, employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. As you can imagine, an engaged workforce of security guards will yield a lot of other benefits. Clients will be happier, operations will be smoother, and best of all turnover will be reduced.
Absenteeism is a huge issue for security companies. Unlike other industries, where absenteeism generally only impacts internal operations, absenteeism impacts client sites. Clients see firsthand when guards are late or absent, which of course can lead to dissatisfaction and broken trust. This is the last thing that any manager wants, so getting the schedule right is crucial! The beauty of both self-scheduling & shift bidding is how guards can show interest in shifts that they know actually suit them. Hourly shift workers can often struggle to find work-life balance, and without this balance, resort to absenteeism.
Eliminate unnecessary overtime
Overtime can be either a blessing or a curse for security companies, depending on their contracts with their clients. Some overtime can be billable, and therefore recoverable. More often than not though, overtime costs cannot be passed onto the client. In this case, schedulers will want to eliminate this unnecessary overtime from the schedule. By using self-scheduling or shift bidding, they can set business rules that prevent employees from self-scheduling themselves into overtime. They can also use these rules to determine which employees to assign during shift bidding. With these business rules and flexible scheduling features, Celayix has saved companies over $100,000 in overtime!
Self-scheduling vs. Shift bidding
While both methods yield the same general benefits, there are some differences that employers should consider before choosing which to use.
Who has the final say?
One of the main considerations of self-scheduling vs. shift bidding is how much autonomy you want to give to employees. If you want to give employees the final say of what shifts they work, self-scheduling is the method for you. If you’re just getting started with offering flexible scheduling and want to test the waters, shift bidding might be a better fit. Shift bidding gives the scheduler the final say, and allows them to review each shift before the schedule is confirmed.
How much time do you want to save?
Some managers offer flexible scheduling options as a means to reduce the time spent scheduling. If this is the case for you, deciding on self-scheduling vs. shift bidding should be an easy choice. As mentioned above, with shift bidding, schedulers need to review each open shift before the employee is assigned. While this is significantly easier than actually filling the schedule, it still requires time. So, if you want to drastically reduce the time you spend managing schedules, self-scheduling is for you.
How far in advance do you schedule?
Some way related to the above point, how far in advance you schedule your guards will determine which method might work best for you! If you schedule a month in advance, shift bidding might be a slightly better choice. Shift bidding gives guards a little bit of breathing room to place bids for multiple shifts, based on their personal life commitments. These bids can be withdrawn if an event comes up clashes with a shift they have bid on. Self-scheduling on the other hand means that the employee is committed to working that shift, regardless of how far away it is.
When it comes to deciding on self-scheduling vs. shift bidding, it is important to consider the opinions of your guards. Each method has different implications for the guard. If you are introducing flexible scheduling as a means of improving employee engagement, it is important to listen to them. While some employees prefer the idea of first come first, others might prefer the idea of having a period of time to decide whether they want to bid or not.
The beauty of using employee scheduling software with these features is that you are likely not in a position where you are forced to choose one method over the other. Maybe you offer a percentage of shifts for shift bidding, and the other percentage for self-scheduling. Providing flexibility is often about finding balance, and the same can be said for self-scheduling vs. shift bidding. There is no right answer, or a one-size-fits-all. Take the time to find out what works best for your company. If you need help deciding what would work best for you – reach out to a Solutions Advisor today!