Workforce management software

When you are running a small business or an enterprise, proper employee time management is a must. That’s why you need a scheduling software that will help you plan and schedule shifts with ease.

The industry of Workforce management software has had its fair share of ups and downs.

For many decades, advancements and developments in the industry were none existent. In fact, it was not until recently that scheduling became a more prevalent workforce management headache. As a result, the Workforce management software industry has boomed over the last 15 years, giving way to many tech companies providing both automation in employee scheduling and time collection. Take a read below to learn more about the history of time and attendance and the birth of employee scheduling!

Early History

The first punch time clock was invented in 1888 by a man named Willard Le Grand Bundy. In 1891, Bundy patented the technology, beginning of time collection for employees around the world. This time clock was very different than what we think of as an “invention” by today’s standard. Employees would be given a specific key and would turn that key in the time clock device to record check in and out times. Those times would then be deciphered by managers based on specific key marks and translated into hours worked and a paycheck for the key owner. Bundy’s company that made these clocks would later merge with two other companies and eventually all turn into IBM – where the origins of the IBM time clock would begin.

Not much more development took place between the 1800s until the 1970s. The IBM time clocks used similar key turning technology that was first developed by Bundy. They were used around the world and many now live in museums. It wasn’t until 1979 when the first punch card system was developed and brought to market that the industry began to change.

The 70s

Created in the 1970s and patented in 1979, the punch card. This is the classic time collection device we think of and saw throughout the media in the 1980s. Each employee had a punch card to clock in and out of their shift. That information was then given to supervisors who manually entered the time for payroll purposes.

time collection

Turn of the Century

It was not until the late twentieth century that computers came into play with time collection. With the popularity of the computer and growth of technology, the classic punch card system began to be replaced by swipe and magnetic card readers called RFID (radio-frequency identification) card. The times collected through these clocks could then assist in the creation or reports and easy to understand payroll data. These types of clocks gave way to today’s clocks, the Biometric clock.

Biometric Clock

Today what we see is an adaptation of the key, punch, and RFID process of the past into smart clocks that include Biometric clocks. Biometric clocks take a step further by decreasing any potential of time theft through high tech verifications such as facial scans. At the beginning of this technology, these clocks ranged from $3,000 to the $10,000 range. Today, similar clocks can be purchased for under $1,000.

Modern Day: Mobile Apps

It is no surprise time collection methods took a leap into the world of mobile apps. Majority of today’s workforce is equipped with a smart phone making it possible to collect real clock-in and out times through the help of mobile apps. Some apps take it a step further and include geo-fencing to ensure staff are clocking in on site. It is only a matter of time these devices include biometric scanning as an additional security mechanism to avoid any potential for time theft.

But… What about Workforce Management?

We have learned how the first time collection device led to the development of today’s ability to collect time from a mobile app, but what about Workforce management? Well, throughout most of the history of the development of the time clock, employee scheduling took a seat on the back burner. With the growing employee empowerment movements of the last century it was not until the 1990’s any form of automation came into play for employee scheduling. This was the introduction of Microsoft’s Excel.

Giving up on pen and paper it was in the 1990’s that people began to use Excel to keep track of employee schedules. Even then many people were still using paper and pen and had to call or mail schedules out to employees, all the while hoping nothing changed with the schedule or the employee’s availability. Now a-days this system no longer works. The importance of work-life balance and competitive nature of getting and keeping good employees means employers have to offer more than a static schedule. With that, comes the development of automated scheduling and communication tools through the form of automated Workforce management software available to both admin users and employees giving access to schedules 24/7, 365.

Automation, Automation, Automation

This buzz word is more prevalent than ever in the industry of HR management and Workforce management. There is no doubt the era of advancements in these industries is far from over. To stay up to date on the industry standards and new developments, contact the Celayix Team at educate@celayix.com to subscribe to our blog and product updates.

Here are just a few of the benefits of staff Workforce management software:

  • Your employees will be able clock in and out through mobile app, web, phone, or collection devices
  • Improve your payroll process by accurately tracking hours worked by your staff
  • Eliminate scheduling errors
  • Allow your employees to provide their availability online, so you don’t have to waste time doing that manually
  • Export data to other systems through many different integration options
  • Streamline communication with your employees
  • Balance working hours evenly and eliminate costly overtime hours
  • Perform virtual safety checks and confirm employees GEO location

Who can benefit from Workforce management software?

Any business that utilizes shift labor can benefit from staff Workforce management software. More specifically, the following industries have particularly benefited from the utilization of Workforce management software:


How to Pick the Right Workforce Management Software?

In any purchase the question of “why should I buy?” should and does come to mind. In the purchase process for Workforce management software, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before both searching for a vendor and signing a contract.

In our previous blog “Is Workforce management software Right for You?” we went through an analysis of when automated scheduling becomes important to an organization. Now that you have decided you want, the next hurdle is picking the right company to work with.

Asking the Right Questions

In the search for anything new, the difficultly is often asking the right questions. To make things easier for you, we have a guide of questions to ask yourself as well as your sales representative when evaluating the right employee scheduling and time & attendance provider for your organization. Take a look below to make sure you ask the right questions to get a system that both fits your needs and will give you maximum value.

Solving Current Issues

What are your scheduling headaches right now? Is it the number of staff you have to schedule? Is it the complexity of the scheduling? Or is it something completely specific to the way your business operates? – These are good starting questions when you are evaluating a scheduling provider, regardless of your industry. It is very important you know your pain points going in and make it clear those are priorities for you.

Needs vs. Wants

We recommend having a list of “Must Haves” and a list of “Nice to Haves”. For example, a “Must Have” might be a system that ties into your payroll or billing software making it easy to ensure payroll data and invoices are correct.

A “Nice to Have” may be a system that sends SMS texts to your employees reminding them of upcoming shifts. Both may make life easier, but one has more direct value. Sticking to your “Must Haves” and “Nice to Haves” will make sure you are not compromising for a system that has nice frills, but doesn’t meet your core requirements.

TIP: If you work with a development focused company, you may find that your “nice to haves” may be coming in the future. There is no harm in asking or suggesting a product improvement. This is a great way to gauge if the company is open to feedback.

Reputation

When looking for a software vendor, you will find everything from cheap to expensive, and everything in between. Often, solution will be similar on the surface, but when signing a contract, there are other things you should take into consideration about your vendor. Two important aspects to look at are the company’s reputation and their customer lifespan.

Take a look on websites such as Capterra or other online review sites for what customers have said about working with them. You can take it a step further by asking your sales representative about the average life time of a customer.

Some companies may tell you they have millions of users, but how long do those users stay active? It may be for a few years or a few months, or even less. Knowing how long they keep customers on average will give you good insight into customer satisfaction.

What Happens When I Grow?

If you are a growing company who may change their needs in the future, ask questions about the product vision and product flexibility. What is their customer size range? What is their focus for future product improvements? The answers to these questions will give you a good idea of if this company is going to grow with you or if you will need to be looking for a new vendor once you outgrow them.

What will be my ROI?

Any big investment that is promising to save you time and money will likely have a nice price tag attached. The question should be how much will this save me? To answer that question, you will have to examine the financial areas of improvement. Do you have high overtime costs?

Is the current system error prone? Does it require high overhead? All of these questions will help you figure out your ROI. Your potential provider should be able to help you identify the answers to these question with an ROI Calculator. This is a good stepping stone in determining if the system provides you enough value. You may even find that an automated system can pay for itself and then some in savings within the first year.

With that list above you are well equipped to start your purchasing process by asking the right questions for your organization. In addition, here a few extra things you might want to consider as well.

SaaS

A SaaS based Workforce management software will give you the ability to implement a solution quickly and easily. It will also be more cost effective than an installed enterprise software system and will give you the flexibility of scaling your solution as your business grows.

Stay Away from Generic Cookie Cutter Systems

Look for a system that works with your unique scheduling workflow. There is a good chance that your business’ scheduling process is very different from others’, so why would you use the exact same software? Choose a system that will be customized for you and your organization’s way of scheduling.

Choose a diverse system that does more than just schedule

The goal of implementing a scheduling solution is to become more efficient, and save time & money. So pick a software that incorporates functions that include Payroll Integration, Employee Communication, and Time/Attendance.


How To Prepare Your Employees On Using a Workforce Management Software

While Workforce management software brings benefits of increased efficiency and productivity, adopting the solution takes a bit of effort initially to truly become a success. Organizations usually focus solely on software deployment, neglecting organizational adaptation. Organizational adaptation refers to modifications and alternations in the organization or its components in order to adjust changes in the external environment. Neglecting it would cause issues such as a longer adaptation process and a further reduction in performance. To avoid these issues, multiple actions need to be taken over the software adoption process.

Communication is Key

Make sure to involve your employees from the very beginning of the software adoption. Open discussion is always necessary. The discussion is not about whether or not to adopt, or what to adopt, but about the pros and cons of the solution and what to watch for during the process. For example, older employees usually take longer to get familiar with the new technology, and some people may not have access to a smartphone. Discussing these issues would help both parties be aware of the potential difficulties, the employees to have a better understanding of the adoption, and the management to have more realistic expectations towards the outcome.

Training and Customer Services from the Software Vendor

Software developers must design progressive training programs to properly onboard their clients. Selecting a pilot team for training and workshops is an effective way to test the software and get quick feedback. After the pilot program, analyze the result, revisit the training process and fine-tune for larger scale adoption.

During the training process, the advantage of having responsive customer service from the vendor becomes clear. Shorter waiting time means a shorter adaption process and less training cost. In this case, a higher and faster ROI can be achieved.


What’s wrong with the old fashioned way?

1) It takes too much effort

The amount of time, resources, and energy in maintaining scheduling efforts is staggering. You have to gather information from multiple sources and send new information across different platforms (emails, calls, texts, social media, etc.).  This is a very manual and tedious process that leads to loss of efficiency, frustration, and time wasted.

2) It is not accurate

Old school scheduling involves using many tools and systems in order to achieve your scheduling objectives. You might be using a combination of spreadsheets, pen & paper, group chats, email chains, cork boards, etc.

When you have to work with so many inefficient tools, errors are inevitable. Streamlining this info in an Workforce management software would take care of all of these issues.

3) Collaboration is impossible

Because some of the aforementioned tools are difficult to get access to, collaboration is next to impossible. One party might have very little say or influence on shifts, which can cause a rift in your organization. For example, if your employees can’t share their availability quickly and easily and you schedule solely based on business needs, the employee will feel under appreciated and undervalued.


Can Employees Do It Themselves?

Wouldn’t it be great if your employees could schedule themselves into shifts? Wouldn’t that make your life so much easier? If you haven’t heard of this before, there is a solution. It’s called self-scheduling. Let’s go through what it is and how it might work, and we will let you determine if you think it is right for your business.

Self-scheduling basically means you let your employees decide when they will work. The benefit is that you don’t have to assign people to shifts, you just need to tell your employees that work is available and let them tell you when they will show up for the shifts. There are many different ways to accomplish this. Let’s go through the process.

The first method would involve you creating a schedule of shifts during times that you know you need an employee to fill. Let’s say you know you need four people to work a particular post or location from 8 AM to 12 PM. You could create all the details of the shift, but you are not sure who will work it. Then you need a medium to publish these shifts to make them visible to your employees. The good news is that there is Workforce management software out there that does this now. You can make the shifts available over a medium like a webpage; the employees can see which shifts are available and then schedule themselves into a shift depending on when they are available. All they need is some sort of login credentials to get logged in and see the shifts. Then they could pick which ones are right for them and assign themselves to them.

The second method is to just let the employees do all the scheduling work, and create shifts for themselves whenever they show up. You could have no schedule, have employees show up to a location, and have them check in using a mobile app which in turn would create a shift. This is all made possible through Workforce management software from Celayix. While this has the benefit of not requiring you to create a schedule, it may mean you will have more shifts to review, as you cannot always trust your employees to self-schedule themselves accurately. In the long run, reviewing the shifts may be a lot easier than actually creating a schedule so the net result may still end up in you having saved more time.  When comparing this to the other method, this requires less work at the front end, but may require more work on the back end. I will leave it up to you to decide which one is more appealing.

Both of these methods do require effort on the part of your employees; however, with Celayix software, the effort is minimal. The self-scheduling can be done through your web browser on your PC or tablet, and even on a mobile app, for the employees who are always on the go.

Now, why does everything mentioned above lead to a better, happier staff as the title suggests? Well, with self-scheduling, the lives of your schedulers are much easier. No longer do they have to balance out who works that awful Monday morning shift that nobody wants, and they don’t need to spend much of their time worrying about which employee to put into which shift.

All they need to do is create blocks of time that they know need to be filled, then publish the shifts to the web and let your employees fill it in.  From the rest of your employees’ standpoint, it allows them to pick their own shifts. This helps them in a few different ways. First, they get to pick a work schedule that fits best with their personal lives. If they have an appointment on Tuesday, then they will know that won’t work and won’t pick up any shifts for that day. It is also more likely that they will remember their work schedule much better since they are the ones who created it.

Since the employees get to pick their shifts, they have a say in how much they work and when they work. This should lead to less complaining about having to work a shift they didn’t want. So, the lives of your schedulers are made easier by giving them less work to manage, and the lives of your employees are better since they have the ability to pick a schedule that fits best with their own personal schedule.  Self-scheduling might be right for you and your employees.

Running a business is difficult. One of the many challenging things about running a business is making sure your employees show up to work at the right time, and that you’ve scheduled them at a time that they are available. Having people call off or not show up is annoying, and it can be stressful finding last minute replacements.

As you probably know, scheduling your employees can be difficult, and keeping track of who can work when and for how long can be a time consuming process. Some business owners and managers spend several hours per week just trying to sort out who can cover their shifts.

For industries with large volumes of employees, with large number of shifts to fill, the scheduling process can go from being problematic, to a nightmare. How can a person be expected to remember that Jennifer can’t work Tuesday mornings because she has to take her kids to school? Or that Ramon can’t work the Friday night shift because he is taking night classes?

While this may seem like a burdensome and impossible task to manage, there is a solution. Why not just post the open shifts you and then tell your employee to pick whichever shifts they can work? That sounds easier doesn’t it? Who would know their schedule for the upcoming week better than the employees themselves? With Celayix’s self-scheduling solutions, this is one of the many features we offer that can assist you with turning the task of scheduling from a burden, to a breeze.

Here is how it works. First, all you need to do, as a scheduler, is figure out what blocks of time you know your customers need you to have people working. You make the schedule, but all you define is the location of the shift, and the start and end time. Now, the question is who is going to work these shifts?  All you need to do is post the shifts. Using Celayix’s eTime Xpress application, you can define and post your required schedule. Then, your employees can login using Celayix’s user friendly Team Xpress app on their mobile devices or computer. From there, they can choose to see what shifts are available and at what times. They can then pick up shifts by simply clicking on them and clicking the submit button.

Your employees get automatically assigned to the shifts and they have now self-scheduled themselves and the hardest part of the scheduling is done for you! Another nice thing about this feature is that it can be configured so that the shifts are made available to a certain “group” of employees with priority.  An example of this would be you have a group of what you would consider your “best” employees and you want them to have first chance at picking their shifts. This can be accomplished using Celayix’s rule based Workforce management software. This gives you control and can prevent someone with less seniority from selecting all the shifts that your more senior employees should be getting. Another thing with the self-scheduling feature is that this will account for things like Qualifications or Restrictions. Maybe you need someone that is First Aid certified to work this shift? That particular shift would only show up to people who actually have that particular qualification. Maybe you know that Johnny is not a good fit for working the coat check shift at a particular customer. You can set up a restriction that prevents him from seeing that particular shift.

With Celayix’s eTime Xpress application you able to check the schedule and watch how it fills up.  There is a feature that allows for you to search for the remaining “open” shifts. These will typically be the ones that are least desired by your employees; maybe they are at a location that isn’t as desirable at a time slot where everyone would prefer to be out at the beach. If the employees don’t fill up all of the shifts themselves, then of course it will still be your duty to schedule them. By this time though, the majority of, if not all of the shifts, will have been filled. Instead of spending hours trying to figure out who can work when, now all you have to do is fill in whatever is left over. In most cases, all the shifts are filled and you can move on to other tasks! In the cases where you do need to fill in the left overs, Celayix has an “Availability” solution which allows you to search for the best employee to fit the shift, based on their experience, qualifications, and verifying that no overtime is incurred. This feature can also be used by the employees so they can submit what days they are available to work.

What about competition you may ask? What if two or more people want to take that same Tuesday afternoon shift? How do we determine who selected it first? Celayix’s Workforce management software has an advanced algorithm that tracks what time the request is made from the time the person clicks the button on the mouse to the time the request was received by our servers. This is tracked down to the microsecond, so if two people claim to choose a shift at the same time, this data is tracked in eTime Xpress. This is available for the scheduler to access so they can show the employees that yes, in fact you were just .001 seconds slower in submitting your request, which is why you did not get the shift.

What is the end result?  Well for one, you save time having to manage the difficult task of assigning a particular employee to each shift. This should make your life easier and make you happy. On the other side, the employees get the freedom to choose their own schedule. They don’t want to work this Thursday? That’s fine, then don’t pick any shifts on that day. Chances are another employee would be glad to pick them up instead. It saves you time as a scheduler and gives the employees control over what shifts they get to work. Another benefit is that if the employee chooses the shift, they know when they work, and there is a much greater chance they will show up, given that they chose to work it. This reduces the amount of call offs you may get and reduces the amount of headaches you get from having to find someone to work a last minute shift. All of these factors should lead to a happier workforce, and should make your life as a scheduler less stressful.


How To Make It Even Easier?

On the surface level, scheduling seems so simple. In fact, many organizations still use Excel or something similar to schedule their employees; but anyone who has to do this task week in and week out will understand the complexities and the difficulties involved in the scheduling process. Here, at Celayix, we are fully aware of these struggles and believe that our Workforce management software can make these tasks simpler and easier. Below are 5 areas that will make your life easier when it comes to scheduling.

1) Scheduling Rules

There are a number of different rules in Celayix’s employee scheduling system, all with the aim of making life easier. We understand that trying to keep track of all the required certifications that an employee must have to work a shift is a mine field. Our Workforce management software will alert the scheduler if an employee does not have the correct requirements or if their certifications have expired. What this means is that you can be assured that the shifts are being worked by the right people, with the right skills.

Another key rule is the Overtime rule; this can be configured daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, which means no more adding up hours or complex formulas – it is all done for you with a few clicks of a button.

2) Employee Notifications

When is a schedule ever perfect? For most organizations, barely ever. For countless reasons, there are always necessary changes. Often, the tricky part to this is informing the employee that a changed has occurred and having that assurance that they have seen it. Fear not, Celayix Workforce management software has a feature that does exactly this. Within the software, a notification can be sent to employees via SMS/Email/In-App, informing them of a change -whether that is for a shift that has been added, deleted, or simply updated. The employee will then need to acknowledge this change and this can be viewed in a report by the scheduler.

3) Self-Scheduling

Do you have a number of shifts to schedule, but you wish you didn’t have to schedule the employees yourself? You don’t mind who works the shift as long as they have the right qualifications and it doesn’t cause overtime, right? No problem! In Celayix’s Workforce management software, you can set shifts to appear in the employee application and your employees can schedule themselves. The employee will only see shifts that they are eligible for; so if they don’t have the correct skills to work the shift, they won’t see it. And if taking the shift will take them into OT, then they won’t be able to schedule it. This will free up the scheduler’s time, as well as giving the employee a greater deal of flexibility, making everyone a winner!

4) Templates

Do you have an identical or very similar schedule every week, but you don’t want to have to create it over and over again? Templates are here to help, as this feature will allow you to save a day, week, month or longer, and then you can paste this out as far as you like into the future. This is a great time saver for the scheduler.

5) Time Off

How frustrating is it to complete your schedule only to find out that you hadn’t realized that one of the employees has time off booked for one or two of the shifts? When using Celayix’s Workforce management software, the scheduler is alerted if an employee has requested or has approved time off, allowing them to find another employee for that shift.


How To Manage Employees Manually?

Creating a work schedule for your employees is a crucial part of running a business. There are a number of factors to consider when building the most efficient schedule for your operation. Here are a few steps to schedule employees manually:

1. Decide on Business Rules

As a business owner, you should familiarize yourself with the Fair Labor Standards Act, which outlines laws like minimum wage, overtime requirements, and the protection of minors. If your organization fails to comply with these laws, or state specific laws like meal break requirements, you could face significant lawsuits.

You also need to decide on business rules specific to your organization. These could include whether your employees will work on federal holidays, how to allocate overtime, and what qualifications your organization will require for particular roles. Deciding on your business rules is a critical step towards your ability to schedule employees manually.

2. Organize Your Workforce

Compile a list of your workforce, specifying which employees are full time and which employees are part time. The list should also show qualifications of employees, and which role they will fill within your organization.

3. Collect Availability

It is important to have a detailed account of all of your employees’ availability, especially part time employees who have variable schedules. Collect a schedule of not only when they can work, but vacation requests or other day off requests. To standardize this process, create a form for employees to fill out.

4. Plan Weekly & Monthly Shift Templates

Chart out a weekly shift template that includes business hours, the total hours that need to be filled for each day, and the roles that are required for them. Also take into account any variations to the regular shift schedule for the month; like for special events, sales, weekends, and holidays, and add or remove shifts as required. If you have chosen to schedule employees manually, creating templates will save you a ton of time in the long run.

5. Plot in Employees

This is the step that most people think of when attempting to schedule employees manually. Day by day, plot in who will be working each shift based on the empty shift schedule you already created. Then, communicate the schedule to your employees with enough time to accommodate any changes.

Here are some additional considerations when building a schedule:

  • Overtime: Take care not to over-schedule employees and force their hours over the 40 hour a week mark.
  • Double bookings: Make sure you do not schedule an employee to be in two places at once. Sometimes this happens when another employee calls in sick, and when pressed for time the manager doesn’t check if the employee is already working that day.
  • Breaks: Ensure you have enough coverage to cover any coffee or lunch breaks that your employees receive, and keep an accurate record of breaks if your state has meal break requirements.
  • Affordable Care Act: If you are a small employer trying to stay within 50 full-time employees for the ACA, ensure that your part time employees do not go over the maximum 30 hours a week.
  • Other schedule errors: When factoring in employees’ availability, skills, and roles within your organization, it is common to accidentally schedule employees who are unavailable. Scheduling errors like these can be costly because they can leave you short staffed at the last minute.

How you can make it easier for your employees to work night shifts?

Working non-traditional hours is more common than you may think. Nowadays, almost a third of the U.S. workforce works outside the regular day shift. It is vital to understand how you as an employer can support your employees, increasing employee retention and productivity as well as lowering the number of errors and accidents.

Experts assume that the biggest problem with working shifts comes from its conflict with the circadian rhythm, which can be best understood as the inner clock of each person. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is the natural state. As a result, working shifts can cause sleep problems, irritability and even depression in workers. Moreover, as social life usually revolves around regular day shifts, relationships and the social life of your employees working night shifts may suffer, resulting in a feeling of isolation.

Things you can do:

  • As older workers are generally more severely affected by the impact of shift work, you may opt for scheduling younger workers for night shifts.
  • Rotating shifts are harder on the body, as routine isn’t given. Schedule workers for the same shifts, with days off for regeneration in between.
  • To promote alertness in your employees and thereby reducing errors and accidents, keep the workplace brightly lit.
  • Offer possibilities for night shift workers to connect to managers, Human Resources and other departments every once in a while, improving the sense of togetherness and employee retention.

Things your employees can do:

It is also important to educate your workers on how they can do their part to stay fit for the job. You may even include the spouses and children of night shift workers in the training, as they need to understand the problems they face and adapt their family life to the schedule.

  • Practicing good sleep hygiene is crucial. Wearing sunglasses on the way home and installing darkening shades in the bedroom to reduce exposure to daylight, as well as fixing time blocks where disturbance should be limited make for better sleep quality.
  • Encourage your workers to follow a nutritious diet, avoiding greasy, sugary food and limiting caffeine intake, as this affects the quality of their sleep. Providing healthy food options at work instead of vending machines can go a long way.

Last but not least, listen to your workers’ needs and experiment with different approaches to shift work, such as shorter shifts and scheduled nap times.


Why Organizing a Summer Staff is the worst?

Too Much Vacation Time

Employees book off more time in the summer than almost any other time of year, which can put a kink in your summer staff schedule. Not only do employees want more time off during the summer, they expect it. With more than twice the amount of time off requests than usual, you’ll be overwhelmed to the max.

Sunny days = Sick Days

Even the best summer staff schedule can’t prevent employees calling in sick for a day at the beach. Have a cushion of part-timers or causal labor that can fill in at a moment’s notice. Once you have the shift covered, start thinking about properly implementing a sick time policy that discourages this type of behavior. Lay down the law.

Inexperienced Seasonal Employees

While seasonal employees are undoubtedly essential to the business, they do come with their own set of challenges. They usually have the least amount of training, and require a certain amount of hand holding (and eye-rolling).

Competing with the Weather

Even if you create the best summer staff schedule you can, you will still end up with employees who are stuck inside and wishing they were elsewhere. All the talk of employee engagement aside, you can’t compete with sun and sand. Heck, you’d probably like some sunshine too right?


How to Build a Schedule Based on Skill?

One of the most important aspects of rules-based scheduling is the ability to schedule employees based on skill. This means that supervisors can fill shifts based on what skill it requires and matching it with an employee with that particular skill. Here are 4 steps to help get you started:

Define Skills:

The first step in this process is to define what skills your organization may need for all of its shifts it requires. These could be both hard and soft skills.

  • Hard skills are certifications, licenses, or training that a shift may require. An example of this would be first aid.
  • Soft skills are attributes that a shift may require given the type of business you are in. An example of this would be crowd control at a concert, which may require a calm personality and large physical presence.

Define Skills that Expire:

Some skills have expiry dates, which you should keep track of and monitor when they run out. First aid, firearm licenses, and other certifications often expire after a set number of years, and it is important not to schedule your employees after the expiry date if your business requires they have it. Once you start keeping track of expiry dates, you can remind your employees to renew their certifications.Complete Employee Information

The most obvious step in this process is to define which employee has the skill you are looking for. Once completed, you will have a database of employee information that can help you schedule based on skill in a snap.

Match Shifts with Skills and Filter:

Build your schedule template with each shift containing what skill is needed. For example, if you have a security business, night shifts would have a skill requirement of “overnight training completed”. Once your template is complete, you can use auto fill to filter through your employee database and easily complete the schedule.


How To Manage Your Workforce Better?

1. Figure out how many people you need and the skills they should have.

Having the right people at the right time is the first step towards being a better scheduler.

2. Learn the industry you work in.

Identify possible issues, opportunities, , seasonal trends, etc. before they happen and adjust your schedule and staff as necessary.

3. Effectively communicate with your employees.

Utilize a convenient and effective form of communication with your employees. Let them know details about their schedule as early as you can and collect/update availability on an ongoing basis.

4. Use Workforce management software

Use Workforce management software to become more efficient and effective with your scheduling. With Workforce management software, you have the ability to filter staff based on skills, identify trends in your business, communicate with your employees, collect availability, share schedules, integrate payroll and much, much more.


How to Communicate Effectively?

One of the most common operational problems that many organizations face is simply communicating their employee schedules effectively. Many companies without a program in place to communicate schedules find themselves struggling with tied up phone lines, or with too much managerial time spent on the phone with employees. Even worse, some organizations rely on their employees to check paper schedules, even if these schedules change on the fly. Often these problems lead to errors in schedule, as there are gaps in the information.

Consider the needs of your employees before deciding how to communicate your employee schedules.

Millennials and Gen X

Young adults and tech savvy employees expect to receive their schedules on the devices they use most. In a world where there is an app for everything, the best way to send schedules to millennial employees is on a smart phone. Enable your schedules over the web, and they can bookmark the location easily. Alternatively, if you have a small and manageable workforce, Google Calendar makes sharing employee schedules easy.

Baby Boomers

Older generations are less likely to expect their schedules over the web. However, baby boomers and their counterparts have been using email for decades. Using an automated email system to send out schedules is common in most Workforce management software available, however once an email is sent out the schedules are not as flexible to change.

Low Internet Adoption / Socio-Economic Status

Although it may seem like everybody and their dog has an iPhone these days, only about 50% of Americans have smartphones. For employees with low socio-economic status, they may also choose to forgo internet access in their homes. Therefore, internet based web portals and email are not smart choices to communicate employee schedules. However, an interactive voice response system (IVR) can automate the phone call process to communicate schedules. This allows employees to call in with a land line, or standard mobile phone, to call in and hear their schedules automatically.

Often your workforce will not fall under one generation, or how they prefer to be communicated with may not be the typical generational style. Select an employee scheduling system that can accommodate the needs of all your employees.


How to deal with managing Part-Time Employees?

Dealing with scheduling part-time employees can be more than just frustrating. It can waste valuable management time, leave your organization with gaps in daily operations, and when improperly done, leave customers in the lurch. Scheduling part-time employees is significantly more complex than scheduling full-time employees with static schedules. Think about these tips the next time you consider revamping the scheduling process in your organization.

Enable Web Based Availability and Time-Off Requests

Rather than having hundreds of slips of paper detailing all of your part-time employees’ availability, make submission of availability easy with a web portal. Scheduling part-time employees is a breeze when everyone’s availability is built into the system, and can even be automated with the click of a button. A good web portal will allow employees to input detailed availability and preferences, as well as time-off and vacation requests.

Make Accessing the Schedule Easy

Give part-time employees plenty of ways to access the schedule. Because they do not always come into work on a regular basis, posting a paper schedule is not an effective way to make sure that your employees know when they are working. Properly scheduling part-time employees includes clear and efficient communication, which is often overlooked when building complicated schedule. Make it available over the web, use email, or even a telephony portal to make sure that everyone has the right information.

Think Outside the Box

For employees without reliable access to internet, enabling a telephone based time and attendance or scheduling solution can make your life a lot easier. A telephony portal like Voice Xpress enables employees to call in and hear their schedules automatically, without having to speak to a supervisor at the office.


How To Manage Event Staff to Increase Profitability and Efficiency?

Scheduling event staff can be complex and time consuming. If you don’t get it right, it’s the one variable that can mean the difference between success and failure.

One of our customer’s experiences provides an excellent example of how an event driven business can improve operations through the implementation of an advanced employee scheduling system. Puff ‘n Stuff Catering, a recognized caterer of beautifully organized and executed events, needed to increase efficiency. Scheduling event staff was complicated due to the multiple locations serviced as well as qualifications, overtime, and budgets. They knew that they could make scheduling event staff “better, faster, and cheaper.” They also knew that the majority of their workforce, bartenders and servers, were a transient group that experienced high turnover.

After transitioning to the Celayix system, scheduling event staff improved in efficiency. In turn, this allows them to be able to serve their customers better, as the schedule ensures proper coverage for them.

The Celayix employee web portal allows Puff n’ Stuff administrative staff to focus on growing their business, as it enables event staff to input their schedules themselves as well as check the schedule anytime, anywhere. It also helps improve retention, as now their “transient” workforce feels that their employer is committed to scheduling them “properly.”

With the new staff scheduling system, the guesswork that was traditionally involved in matching employee qualifications and budgets to customer events is eliminated. Not only does this constrain costs and increase profits, but it reduces the time spent building schedules.

Scheduling event staff was one part of the equation, but Puff n’ Stuff also needed a way to manage time and attendance. Now, tablets allow them to clock employees in and out via the web portal. This ensures that employees are being paid for the correct amount of time worked, and if they clock in late, it saves Puff n’ Stuff money. It helps “keep honest people honest,” as well as protects them against any litigation resulting from disputed time worked.


How To Manage Overtime?

Many companies struggle with the issue of overtime within their organization. The most common questions from both staff and managers usually pertain to how employees qualify for overtime, and who has the authority to approve and deny overtime.

By not having a solid policy in place and effectively communicated throughout the entire organization, companies run the risk of,

  • Over or under paying employees for hours worked
  • Customers billed incorrectly
  • A decrease in moral or disgruntled employees
  • Unneeded increase in operational costs
  • Lawsuits due to not complying with labor laws

When creating an effective overtime policy take the following five tips into consideration,

1. Become a Legal Eagle

No matter what the country, state, province or region your organization is located in, strict labor laws and regulations will be in place for you to follow. Be sure to thoroughly read through employment legislation, and if necessary consult legal council or government agencies for clarification.

2. Learn from Mistakes

It may be helpful to do a search on the Internet for recent or past news stories of companies in your industry who are currently in legal battles because of nonexistent or poor employee overtime policies.

Reach out to other business professionals within your network to find out what overtime policies they have in place, and what’s working and not working for them. Many successful organizations have looked fist at competitors, to see if they are falling within industry standards, or lagging behind.

3. Make it a Group Decision

Hold a meeting that includes a sample, (or if possible everyone in the organization) that is managing or supervising your workforce. These are the people that will help bring understanding to what grey areas there are about approving and denying employee overtime, and help assess where overtime costs can be cut.

4. Know the Bottom Line

It’s crucial to know exactly how much overtime is costing your organization. This is where your scheduling and time & attendance software reporting functions will start making a return on investment. Without knowing where the time and/or money is being spent on overtime, it’s almost impossible to make an overtime policy that will be financially viable and sustainable.

5. Spread the News

Companies often successfully put policies and procedures in place, but then fail when communicating those policies and having compliance within their workforce. Once you have your policy decided upon, be sure to place it in writing, and effectively communicate it.

Avoid using confusing legal jargon that may confuse what your trying to communicate. Most importantly be sure that those who are spreading the message know and understand the policy in its entirety and are ready to answer questions about it.

The success of your overtime policy will largely depend on your organizations ability to track and monitor staff time and attendance. Be sure you have an accurate method to monitor employee clock-in and clock-outs to avoid time theft and disputes between employees and managers as to when and where shifts were worked.


Is Off the Clock Work A Good Thing?

What is Working “Off the Clock?”

Working “off the clock” refers to situations in which non-exempt employees work outside their documented “clock-in” and “clock-out” times. This violates the Fair Labor Standards Act, as it entails that employees are being paid improperly for their time.

In some cases, it is the employee who chooses to work off the clock, either please managers or to appear eager, and in others cases employers or supervisors encourage the practice. Either way, working off the clock represents a liability to your business.

Looming Litigation

Many large employers are facing lawsuits related to employees who worked off the clock including Dollar Tree, Pizza Hut, and Darden Restaurants. Although it has yet to go to trial, more than 6,000 Dollar Tree employees have filed a class action suit against their employer alleging that Dollar Tree failed to pay them for 30-45 minutes of required off the clock work each day.

The workers say that they were required to work through their half-hour lunch breaks, continuing to help customers or stock shelves. Pizza Hut and Darden Restaurants, which operates Olive Garden, LongHorn Steak House, and Red Lobster, as well as notable other chains, have also faced similar suits due to off the clock pay.

Planning for Prevention

How can you prevent off the clock work and prevent litigation that could potentially harm your organization? Consider these suggestions:

1. Crystal Clear Policies

Your organization should have clear policies about off the clock work. Every new employee should be aware of them, and Human Resources should have an open door policy encouraging employees to report off the clock work. If your workplace is a multi-lingual environment, ensure that any signage outlining the policy is written in both languages.

2. Sophisticated Scheduling and Time Keeping

An automated scheduling and time keeping system is your first line of defense against off the clock work. Your Workforce management software should be able to accurately analyze time scheduled compared to time actually worked by employees, and identify any variances. HR often looks for these variances to identify employees who arrive late or leave early, but they can also help indicate off the clock work.

3. Specific Supervisor Training

Supervisors should receive additional training outlining off the clock policies. They should also be made aware of disciplinary measures if they suggest, encourage, or condone off the clock work in anyway. Often supervisors will assume that management will be pleased with off the clock work as it ensures “cheap” labor, and are not aware of the hefty consequences associated with it.


How to Prevent Unauthorized Overtime?

Although sometimes necessary, excessive amounts of overtime can hurt your business’ bottom line. Without a manager’s approval, employees may even take it upon themselves to work overtime, even if an alternative work arrangement can be made.

Prevent Unauthorized Overtime Legally

It is for this reason that many companies create policies forbidding the use of unauthorized overtime, which is overtime worked without a manager’s or supervisor’s consent. If your company creates one of these policies in an effort to prevent unauthorized overtime, you still must pay your employees for any overtime that they work according to the Department of Labor (DOL)You can therefore prohibit unauthorized overtime, but even if an employee repeatedly violates the policy, you still must pay for all hours worked. Therefore, a policy to prevent unauthorized overtime should outline disciplinary scenarios for when an employee doesn’t follow the rules.

Cases to Remember

It is illegal both in the United States and in Canada to fail to pay an employee for overtime. In New York, a nursing staffing agency had a policy that nurses must notify the agency in advance if a shift would force them over 40 hours a week, or they would not receive overtime rates. Sometimes, the nurses would request approval for extra hours, and other times they accepted extra hours at the hospital without the agency’s approval. On the nurses’ behalf, the DOL sued the agency for overtime pay, arguing that the company’s refusal to pay overtime for unauthorized hours violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

In Canada, a case involving the Insurance Company of British Columbia’s unionized workforce (ICBC) showed that the rule also applies in Canada. ICBC had an unwritten policy that stated that employees would not be paid for overtime unless it was authorized by a manager. ICBC provided evidence that it had communicated this policy to employees and the Union. In this case as well as in the New York case, the law shows that you must always pay overtime hours even if an employee does not receive permission to work them.

Other Ways You Can Prevent Unauthorized Overtime

Consistent Policies

Obviously, creating a policy that outlines discipline given to employees who work overtime without permission is a great way to start.  Disciplinary actions can include verbal warnings, suspensions, or termination if necessary. Of course, any policy to prevent unauthorized overtime must be carried out uniformly across the organization.

Technology

Another way you can prevent unauthorized overtime is through software that managers and supervisors can use to automatically schedule employees who do not cause overtime. Often, overtime is caused when managers are in a hurry to find a replacement when another employee is sick. Good Workforce management software will find a replacement that is both available and will not cause overtime. It will also provide an audit trail of scheduling assignments if you have a problem with supervisors playing favorites and assigning overtime to their friends.


How To Manage an Ad-Hoc Schedule?

Do you frequently deal with an ad-hoc schedule? Ad-hoc scheduling refers to a type of schedule that is created with shifts and employees as needed, and often done with little notice. It may be frustrating, time-consuming, and inefficient, but following these tips will allow you to effectively manage an ad-hoc schedule with ease.

1. Keep your employee data up-to-date

Unless you know which employees are available, which skills they possess, or departments they are qualified to work in, it will be virtually impossible to create a complete schedule. Keeping your employee data up-to-date will help you efficiently slot staff into the appropriate shifts with ease.

2. Automate replacements

If your ability to manage an ad-hoc schedule requires you to frequently find replacements for many shifts, you should automate this process and eliminate tiresome employee lists. An automated system will allow you to simply auto-generate a replacement that is available, and does not cause overtime, in a snap.

3. Eliminate overtime

Effectively learning to manage an ad-hoc schedule goes hand in hand with controlling overtime. The last minute nature of this type of scheduling leaves many people scrambling to find anyone who can fill the shift, even if it will cause overtime. Automated scheduling can prevent this, as it will only provide replacements that have not reached their weekly hourly limit.

4. Stay away from double bookings

It can be equally easy to accidently double book an employee who is already working that day in a different department. Ensure you have enough visibility into your organization to effectively prevent this from happening.

5. Streamline communication

Once you have completed your schedule, it is just as important to make sure that your employees know when they are working, and in a timely manner. Use web based communication such as email or a web portal, or if your employees do not have reliable access to internet, via a telephony portal. Effectively being able to manage an ad-hoc schedule does not allow for old-fashioned tactics such as posting the schedule to a wall.


Why Do You Need A Self Service Portal?

A self-service portal is the name workforce management providers use for web portals in which employees can log-in to complete administrative and scheduling related activities. A good self-service portal will allow employees to:

  • View their schedules in real time
  • Positively confirm they can work their scheduled shifts
  • Submit their work availability and preferences
  • Submit time-off requests
  • Schedule their own shifts from a list of available work times, referred to as self-scheduling
  • Update personal contact information

Here are three reasons why your business needs a self-service portal for workforce planning, scheduling, and administrative purposes:

Improve Productivity

A self-service portal is typically integrated into your workforce management provider’s scheduling and time and attendance system, and therefore can save your administrative staff manual effort and countless hours. It will decrease the amount of time spent collecting availability and time off and as well as the time spent answering employee questions, communicating schedules, and updating data, saving time overall and improving productivity across the organization.

Reduce Errors

The integrated nature of a self-service portal reduces errors caused by miscommunication or clerical mistakes. Errors can impact day to day operational activities, as well as payroll and billing. However, with a self-service portal, once availability and time off is requested and approved, it automatically populates into the system, eliminating the chances of an employee being accidently scheduled for a shift they cannot work.

Improve Employee Engagement and Morale

With a self-service portal, moral will improve not only for employees who will use the system directly, but also for administrators and managers. Employees gain greater control over their work lives with a self-service portal, and even more so with self-scheduling. They also have real-time access to their schedules, which can be extremely valuable to employees who have irregular hours. Administrators will appreciate the increase in productivity and reduction in manual entry, allowing them to focus on other more important aspects of their job.


What are the costs of inefficient workforce management?

Anyone who has tried to manually build a schedule for a staff of 20 or more knows it can be painful. Not only does it waste valuable time, but it is a thankless task that no one is ever completely satisfied with. Besides the odious nature of scheduling manually, there are other costs to inefficient employee scheduling.

Wasted Management Time

Too often, management spends and inordinate amount of time preforming scheduling tasks for the week; an obvious sign of inefficient employee scheduling. This is valuable time that could be spent growing the business, and focusing on more important tasks. On average, advanced Workforce management software can help cut scheduling time by at least 50%, and as much as 85%.

Missed Shifts, Holes in the Schedule, and Other Errors

Even with plenty of time devoted to employee scheduling, there will inevitably be errors in the schedule that lead to inefficient business operations. Without an easily accessible schedule that is simple to understand, employees will often miss shifts because they didn’t know they were scheduled to work. Manually built schedules also mean a lack of fail-safes to prevent holes in the schedule or a misuse of hours in certain departments or locations. It can also mean that unqualified employees are accidentally scheduled for roles they cannot perform.

Increased Financial Costs

Inefficient employee scheduling frequently leads to higher operating costs, usually in the form of avoidable overtime. When employees call in sick at the last minute, managers slot in whoever isn’t already working. However, often these employees have reached their 40 hour work week, and adding additional hours would result in overtime. Implementing a scheduling system that identifies overtime can eliminate this costly oversight.

Unhappy Customers

With gaps in the schedule, departments with too many or too few employees, and managers quietly creating schedules in back-offices, inefficient employee scheduling means your customers will feel the pinch. Ideally, a good schedule will put the right employee, in the right place, at the right time. This will ensure that your customers are served appropriately, and managers are at the ready to help when necessary.


How to Simplify Multi-Location Workforce Management

Workforce management software

You managed staff schedules easily when you were small and had one location. Now, business is booming, you have more customers to serve, and more locations and employees to schedule. Scheduling employees is becoming difficult as you share employees between each location, ensure best suited staff is allocated for each location, and still have a bird’s eye view on all locations’ status.

As a result, here are some key areas you should understand when dealing with workflow management for multi-location businesses:

What are each location’s job qualification & requirements?

You want to identify whether or not the new locations are unique in every aspect. Does the location have more traffic, varying language requirements, younger or older demographic, rules and regulations, skill requirements? Only when you understand each location’s environment in detail, you can better standardize your hiring, training, and operational processes. This further allows you to schedule the right staff at the right time and location.

Is it beneficial for me to share employees between locations?

Sharing employees can help you cover last minute shifts more easily and make employees happier with more work. However, many companies forgo these benefits because it is difficult to find the right employees and communicate the updated schedule in a quick and orderly fashion. An appropriate Workforce management software will calculate the shift and location’s requirements and automatically find the most qualified employee that is closest to the work location.

What can you centralize?

When you start managing multiple locations, it can be very helpful to centralize your scheduling, payroll, HR, and billing. Ask yourself what areas of operation can be centralized easily? Find a software that can generate reports such as schedules, timesheets, eClock for all locations at once or individually with a click of a button. By centralizing as many workforce management aspects, each location can focus on what they do best – help your customers!

These are just some areas you can explore as your business grows and you begin serving multiple locations.


Can Employee Scheduling Errors Be Costly?

What seemed to be a simple mistake in calculating staff wages, has resulted in over $57,000 in back wages being paid out to over 700 employees by the Arby’s restaurant chain. When determining and paying out bonus incentives based on hours scheduled to 225 managers, Arby’s unfortunately did not calculate into the bonus payment overtime hours worked by employees.

The damage to Arby’s comes in two forms. First, the well known chain receiving bad publicity from the mistake. The news has gone viral not helping to build trust as an employer for current and future employees. Second, even for a large corporate enterprise $57,000 is a big chunk of change to be pulled from the corporations pockets.

What can we learn from this costly mistake?

We learn the importance of understanding labor laws and having the correct employee scheduling and time & attendance software to apply complex business rules.

Business rules come in many forms, and are intended to safeguard your organization from making employee scheduling, payroll and billing errors, as well as save time in creating staff schedules and tracking employee time & attendance. With the correct workforce management software and creation of a business rule defining employee overtime payment, Arby’s could of avoided a costly mistake.

When making the decision to purchase scheduling and time & attendance software look into what possible mistakes your operation may be in danger of making. Small mistakes can and will snowball out of control costing time and money.


What are the most common scheduling mistakes?

Scheduling mistakes can happen to the best managers. Typically, managing a large workforce is all about putting out fires, leaving no time to grow the business. Here are the top four employee scheduling mistakes that organizations and their employees face today.

Poor Communication

Too often, a tremendous amount of time is spent informing employees when they work. Phone lines are tied up all day, and customers are neglected because the manager is telling Jane, Sally, and Bill, which shifts they are working tomorrow, the next day, and the next week.

This may sound extreme, but employee and manager communication is one of the most inefficient common processes and common employee scheduling mistakes that occur on a daily basis. Because of its repetitive nature, automation of communications via a web portal is a simple alternative to telephone tag that managers often participate in.

High Labor Costs

With many employees that have different pay rates, bill rates, qualifications, and availabilities, it can be easy to inadvertently schedule employees that rack up unnecessarily high labor costs. Overtime can add even more costs, especially during peak operating times when higher coverage is needed.

Overtime is one of the simplest things to manage, but often thought of as one of organizations’ unavoidable costs. However, a workforce management solution can automatically replace an employee that would have incurred overtime with an available employee that has not reached their weekly hour limit, reducing costs and headaches.

No Contingency Plan

Throughout the year you will have employees take vacations, call in sick, quit, change their availability, and just plain forget they are working that day. Ensure that you have a contingent or part-time workforce available to cover these last minute changes and avoid more costly employee scheduling mistakes.

Too Little Employee Input

Many managers assume that by collecting availability and time off requests, their employees’ schedules have all the necessary input needed. However, personal appointments, social events, and childcare needs come up on the fly, and often coincide with the same time the schedule is being built.

Collaborative scheduling solves this problem by allowing employees to accept or decline shifts, transferring ownership of the schedule into employee’s hands. Self-scheduling goes one step further by releasing a set of shifts to qualified employees, then employees signing up for sifts that they prefer to work. This maximizes the level of schedule input from your employees.


What are the complexity and difficulties in workforce management?

Finding the correct employee for a particular shift can be time-consuming and complicated process. In the world of labor force management, there are can be numerous business rules, such as overtime policy, employee proficiency, and job qualifications. In addition to the standard rules, there can also be industry specific and client specific business rules. For example, a security company may need to fill a shift based on certain physical attributes, weight and height, in addition to the job qualification. With such dynamic and fluid rules, finding the correct employee for a shift can be very time-consuming and error-prone. Invalid assignment of shifts may result in unnecessary overtime pays or even potential legal lawsuits.

Here at Celayix, we provide industry leading solutions to alleviate employers the burden of such complex task. Schedule Xpress employs a series of highly intelligent and customizable scheduling tools, allowing employers to assign shifts with ease in an accurate and cost effective way. For instance, with the Open Shift Scheduling tool, scheduler only need to focus on creating shifts to get the job done and leave the shift assigning task to our Autofill tool suite. Autofill tool is a shift assigning automation that ensures all the business rules are checked before an employee is assigned to the shift. If the scheduling task requires specific rotations due to union requirement or employee seniority, Celayix has Autofill Rotation tool at your disposal.


What are some of the best way to manage employees?

To effectively create, plan and communicate your staff schedule follow our top five employee scheduling tips.

1. Be Ahead of the Game

Don’t be caught behind, start planning your employee schedules out at least a month in advance if not more. Have an idea of when employees will want to take a vacation, and how you will cover that time-off. Look ahead to see what statutory holidays or seasonal events are coming up that may have an effect on your schedule. The more proactive approach you take, the more time you can save.

2. Policies and Procedures are Your Friends

Missed shifts, tardiness and no-shows all need to be tracked, monitored and addressed. Be sure to have an employee time and attendance policy in place. Allowing employees to build a habit of poor attendance will only put more strain on your schedule.

Additionally, create and follow business rules specific to your organization. These could be based upon qualifications, overtime, and seniority.

3. Plan for the Unexpected

Having to cover for vacation time is just the beginning. Throughout the year you will have missed shifts due to employee illness, tardiness, unexpected leaves, bereavement, employee resignations and dismissals. One of the most important employee scheduling tips is to ensure that you have a contingent or part-time workforce available to schedule them at the last minute.

4. Understand Your Business

By generating scheduling labor reports, managers and administrative staff can easily understand the peaks and valleys of their operation and plan schedules accordingly.

5. Optimize Communication

Find a way to effectively communicate your schedule. Typical communication processes may not apply to your organization, especially if you’re managing a mobile workforce or employees working multiple sites. Look at your employee demographics; younger employees have different expectations of communication compared to older employees. Often overlooked as one of the most important employee scheduling tips, consider having automated communication process where employees can communicate with you online, as oppose to manual paper-based processes.


What are the benefits of cloud based workforce management?

Many mid-size businesses that employ a staff of 100 or more employees are finding that Excel and other basic Workforce management software applications are not meeting their needs. Making the transition to software that supports online employee scheduling, (or working in the Cloud) is proving to be a solution that ends many employee scheduling headaches.

Harnessing the power of the Internet and moving your scheduling processes online have many benefits. Below are the top four benefits our clients have experienced by moving to online scheduling.

No Need for Internal IT Staff

Accessing your Workforce management software from the Internet means no complicated installation processes, upgrades, maintenance or in-house servicing of the software. All these issues are handled by our support staff, relieving the burden of having additional, or possibly any internal IT staff.

Always Have the Latest and Most Powerful Version

As technology and communication improve and the needs of your business change, so should your Workforce management software. By receiving small periodic upgrades throughout the year your software stays current and bug free. Upgrades can be scheduled at your convenience, and have little or no interruption to your business. Best of all, upgrades come at no additional cost to you.

Software That Grows With You

As your business grows, so can your software. Purchase licenses for exactly how many employees you have to schedule and how many administrators you want to have access to the system. Don’t get stuck with a stagnant system that will only allow for so many employees. Many organizations find themselves stuck with software that after a few years becomes obsolete as it can’t handle the growth of their business, allowing only for a maximum number of employees.

Access and Share from Anywhere

In today’s mobile world less and less work is done behind a desk in the office. Successful organizations have gone mobile and require access to workforce management tools in the field and at home. Online employee scheduling allows administrators and management to create, review and communicate staff schedules from anywhere, anytime. Changes are made in real-time and everyone in the organization has access to the most current schedule, ensuring less scheduling errors.


How to Prevent Unauthorized Overtime?

Although sometimes necessary, excessive amounts of overtime can hurt your business’ bottom line. Without a manager’s approval, employees may even take it upon themselves to work overtime, even if an alternative work arrangement can be made.

Prevent Unauthorized Overtime Legally

It is for this reason that many companies create policies forbidding the use of unauthorized overtime, which is overtime worked without a manager’s or supervisor’s consent.

If your company creates one of these policies in an effort to prevent unauthorized overtime, you still must pay your employees for any overtime that they work according to the Department of Labor (DOL). You can therefore prohibit unauthorized overtime, but even if an employee repeatedly violates the policy, you still must pay for all hours worked. Therefore, a policy to prevent unauthorized overtime should outline disciplinary scenarios for when an employee doesn’t follow the rules.

Cases to Remember

It is illegal both in the United States and in Canada to fail to pay an employee for overtime. In New York, a nursing staffing agency had a policy that nurses must notify the agency in advance if a shift would force them over 40 hours a week, or they would not receive overtime rates.

Sometimes, the nurses would request approval for extra hours, and other times they accepted extra hours at the hospital without the agency’s approval. On the nurses’ behalf, the DOL sued the agency for overtime pay, arguing that the company’s refusal to pay overtime for unauthorized hours violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

In Canada, a case involving the Insurance Company of British Columbia’s unionized workforce (ICBC) showed that the rule also applies in Canada. ICBC had an unwritten policy that stated that employees would not be paid for overtime unless it was authorized by a manager. ICBC provided evidence that it had communicated this policy to employees and the Union. In this case as well as in the New York case, the law shows that you must always pay overtime hours even if an employee does not receive permission to work them.

Other Ways You Can Prevent Unauthorized Overtime

Consistent Policies

Obviously, creating a policy that outlines discipline given to employees who work overtime without permission is a great way to start. Disciplinary actions can include verbal warnings, suspensions, or termination if necessary. Of course, any policy to prevent unauthorized overtime must be carried out uniformly across the organization.

Technology

Another way you can prevent unauthorized overtime is through software that managers and supervisors can use to automatically schedule employees who do not cause overtime. Often, overtime is caused when managers are in a hurry to find a replacement when another employee is sick. Good Workforce management software will find a replacement that is both available and will not cause overtime. It will also provide an audit trail of scheduling assignments if you have a problem with supervisors playing favorites and assigning overtime to their friends.


What Are The Benefits Of Self Workforce Management

When it comes to shift scheduling, there are different ways to approach this complex problem – depending on perspective and techniques involved. The traditional (and old) way of doing this is to have a dedicated scheduler handling all employees’ shift assignments, based on a plethora of different factors – overtime rules, seniority level, hours restrictions, skills required, experience required, etc.

Adding employee availability information helps with the decision-making, but you rely on the employees to enter information on time and accurately, adding another rule to be enforced and monitored. When we look at medium and large enterprises with a significant number of employees, including various position types and requirements, the scheduling tasks become a time-suck, and sometimes an even overwhelming challenge.

However, there is a newer, modern approach that resolves the hurdles mentioned above. The benefits of this alternative are two-fold: automation and distributed effort.

Everything today is getting automated to some extent, so why not do the same with scheduling? If the business rules and constraints in regards to shift scheduling are well known and defined, we should be able to incorporate this logic into a computer algorithm.

The computer system with access to the entirety of previous/current shift data and employee profiles can quickly and easily determine if a given candidate fits the role, without compromising equality or fairness of shift distribution. But using computers to speed up work and go over tedious tasks, and eliminating human errors, is nothing new in today’s world. Distribution of effort in workforce management, however, is something more recent and is best observed in self-scheduling, where the onus in on employees to assign themselves to unfilled shifts.

As the name suggests, self-scheduling enables employees to apply for available, open shifts, as opposed to being assigned by the scheduler. Given the fact that the employee knows their own availability best, knows if the particular shift is attractive to them, and knows their commitments maybe not (yet) entered into the system at a given moment – they are the most competent to decide on scheduling themselves, without the need for back-and-forth communication and arrangements with the scheduler, effectively saving time and money.

The scheduler has the responsibility to create the shifts, set the rules & restrictions and publish them for employees to pick; employees act on this, usually on a first-come-first-serve criteria. Fairness can be accomplished through shift grouping based on a number of properties, effectively masking a specific shift and/or preventing position cherry-picking – employee is assigned one shift from the group, on need-to-know basis, without knowing all the details.

The benefits of self-scheduling are obvious, as long as they fit and are allowed by your business model/processes.


Can It Help Me Reduce Labor Costs?

The Great Recession caused tremendous change to the business world, especially in the way businesses operate. Businesses have now realized that they must stay lean and efficient to remain competitive in an ever changing world. One of the ways to do that is to reduce operational and labor costs.

In many industries, labor is the greatest expense a business incurs. Human Resources and Operations departments are pressured to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of their workforce, while keeping costs as low as possible. This already difficulty task becomes even more challenging when you operate in a highly regulated jurisdiction or a unionized environment. Luckily, Operations Managers can rely on a Workforce management software to optimize the utility of their workforce, while reducing unnecessary costs.

Workforce management software has been developed to address the concerns of businesses that range in size from small to large, and across many different industries. Also, the usability and accessibility of staff Workforce management software has been enhanced through online access and cloud hosting. When it comes to the pricing of Workforce management software, SaaS based solutions offer a month to month subscription, instead of paying large sums of money up front.

With staff Workforce management software, business operators can get rid of the inefficient process of manually scheduling employees and the issues that come with it. This will leave management and owners with more time to focus on what is truly important, growing the business. You will no longer waste time on manual scheduling, cancelling or rescheduling shifts, figuring out employee vacations, etc.

Here are just a few of the many ways your business can benefit from Workforce management software:

  • Streamline payroll and scheduling to further improve efficiency
  • Increase employee satisfaction
  • Minimize overtime
  • Improve employee satisfaction through real time employee monitoring

How Do You Take Care Of Employee Requests?

Is your desk full of sticky notes and torn pieces of paper with messages from employees requesting time-off, late starts, early-outs or preferred availability? Every morning when you arrive to work is your time monopolized by listening and responding to voicemail left by employees with last minute scheduling requests?

If you answered yes to either of these questions then you’re most likely the point person for staff scheduling at your organization and you may be creating more work for yourself than necessary. Perhaps your keeping up with employee scheduling demands today, but as your business and workforce grow, how will you continue timely communication with your employees?

The days of mountains of sticky notes, muffled voicemail and inundated email inbox’s are over, or at least they can be by investing in employee scheduling, communication and time & attendance software.

With a powerful suite of workforce management software, employee schedule communication can be automated saving hours of costly administrative time.

Automate scheduling processes by,

  • Allowing employees to enter into your Workforce management software via the Internet to electronically submit time-off requests and preferred availability
  • Setting up business rules that automatically approve or deny employee requests based on seniority, time-off available or blocked, union agreements, current operational demands and much more
  • Giving administrative staff and managers the ability to communicate to staff within the Workforce management software to approve or deny requests and provide reasoning as to their decision

Automated employee schedule communication allows your operation to streamline time consuming manual processes that lead to scheduling errors.


What Is Complex Workforce Management?

If you’ve never been involved in scheduling and take it at face value, it seems pretty easy, right? Figure out how many people you need, let your employees know when they need to show, and you’re all done! Wrong. If you are scheduling 20 people or more, scheduling is a juggling act. In the first part of this series, we will detail the issue of getting the right people at the right time.

First, you need to figure out how many people you need. This decision should be based on data and not based on a guess, especially for industries that operate in dynamic, ever-changing work, like hospitality. You need enough people to adequately perform the work, but if you over-schedule, you’ll be taking dollars out of your bottom line. Determining the number of employees required should be based on historical data. If your data is stored on paper, making the right decision becomes incredibly difficult.

Next, let’s talk about finding people with the right skills for your job. Perhaps you are a security company and your list of clients all have different requirements. Some need First Aid certification, others need armed guards, and some just need a person to show up. If you have a few dozen guards on staff, how do you keep track of who has what qualification or certification, and if their qualifications up to date? If you get any of these details wrong, you can be endangering lives and making yourself vulnerable to expensive lawsuits. Again, you need a central database that can easily filter employees based on their credentials, availability, pay rate, etc.

Staff Workforce management software can easily take care of both of these issues. Through the use of Workforce management software, you can analyze your ROI per client to optimize your scheduling process and ensure you are not under or over scheduling. Also, staff Workforce management software gives you the ability to track and update employee credentials and certifications. You can easily filter the type of skill your client requires and schedule based on availability.

When you work in an environment with revolving shifts and schedules, there are many potential points of failures when communicating with your employees. You need to determine your scheduling needs and communicate shift availability to your staff. This is much more difficult than it sounds. Inefficient schedulers communicate through phone calls, text messages, social media, etc. The problem with these forms of communication is that it is incredibly time consuming communicating back and forth with individual employees. You have to manually type or call dozens of employees. Worst of all, you could be using a cork board, which is the worst form of communication possible.

Communicating available shifts is just one part of the equation; the other is gathering availability, which is even more difficult. Gathering employee availability is especially difficult if you have part time or casual employees who don’t have set schedules. The nightmare scenario is that you have dozens of employees (full time, part time, and casual), across multiple locations, and you need to figure out each and every employee’s availability and cross reference it with open shifts. This needs to be done one by one through phone, email, text, or social media.

If this sounds next to impossible, that’s because it is, especially if you only have one person doing all the scheduling. Thankfully, Workforce management software can make life easier and save you time and money. By implementing Workforce management software, you and your employees will be able to easily and effectively communicate with each other. You can conveniently share open shifts and your employees can view this information via phone, computer, or smartphone. Also, on the other end of the equation, your staff members can easily input their availability in the Workforce management software through the any device that has access to the internet.

Workforce management software will not only make life easier for you and your employees, it will improve your relationship with your staff members. Open, transparent and convenient communication will ensure your organization’s management and employees are in synch.


What is Automated Workforce Management?

Imagine you are a supervisor and need to create and communicate a schedule for a group of part-time employees week over week. Each employee has their own availability, work preferences, and time off requests.

Keeping all these factors in mind and accounting for last minute changes, creating a schedule to fit all employees can be a time consuming and daunting task. Moreover, when this process is manual, it is very easy to make mistakes in the scheduling process, resulting in more time needed to solve the issue.

In order to avoid this and increase the efficiency and accuracy of supervisors many businesses lean toward a one-sided scheduling process where schedules are created by supervisor without influence of employee preferences. This, while decreasing the complexity in the scheduling process creates employee schedules that are not flexible enough for the employees to have their say and plan ahead.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix: employee Workforce management software. Depending on your business needs, moving from manual processes to automation may result in major efficiency and satisfaction increases of both supervisors and employees. With strong automated scheduling tools all availabilities, time off requests, and historical data and preferences are collected and attributed to the schedules.

At Celayix our clients use a suite of tools to not only automated the collection and communication of these aspects, but also automated the creation of schedules.  When the supervisors are planning schedule using Workforce management software, they are only able to assign a shift to an employee who fits the criteria of the shift and is available for that shift – i.e. is not already working another shift or has requested time off. Supervisors also have the ability to assign shifts based on the availabilities record of the employees, eliminating a need to go back and forth to see if someone is available to work.

Supervisors have the ability to handle complex availabilities and time off requests meaning that more flexibility for employees. Using Workforce management software that incorporates cutting edge technologies such as ES6, react, flux, HTML5, CSS3, and phone gap further increase easy communication between part-time employees and supervisors by making schedules and communication tools available from the phone, web, and mobile.

It is as simple as employees logging into their account on the web or app for anything from viewing shift details, submitting availability, and submitting and checking the status of their time off request.  This all results in eliminating or near eliminating the chance of mistakes and miscommunications taking place. The best part? The time savings in handling complex scheduling needs, which can translate into time savings of several hours a day.

By creating better communication between supervisors and employees, supervisors will spend less time planning accurate schedules and employees can have more flexible work time. As a result, a better working environment can be provided – a win-win!


How To Know If Your Workforce Management Is Fair?

Is this common every time new schedules for your employees are posted – complaints pour in? If so, allegations of favoritism and special treatment are probably the most common. Generally they all come down to this: How fair is your employee scheduling system?

When things get really bad, you may find your schedulers are beginning to dread their work. Creating schedules is stressful enough without having to deal with unhappy employees, who are convinced they are being given the short end of the stick.

But is that really the case? A big part of the problem is that no one knows for sure.

Many employers try to solve this problem by gathering their employees’ availability and preferences for when they can and would like to work. That’s a great idea, but most methods for doing so are still based on manual-centric systems. Some employees are asked to email their preferences for particular shifts; others must drop by at a scheduler’s desk with a special request; while still others give the scheduler a quick phone call. This kind of manual process – if it could be called that – is the perfect breeding ground for confusion, unhappiness and suspicion.

It’s clear that fulfilling a high percentage of employee preferences isn’t going to be enough. Any new employee scheduling system would have to ensure that employee preferences were allocated fairly.

The solution is in implementing a system where employees can enter their preferences, indicate their availability, and monitor the results from anywhere with an Internet connection. This is also a great help to schedulers who no longer have to keep track of who wanted what.

Complaints will soon stop when employees are able to see for themselves that everyone is being treated fairly. Your schedulers will be relieved, morale will rise, and significant amounts of money will be saved with a system that enables all relevant factors – from productivity to employee satisfaction and fairness – to be maximized.