Manage Your Staff Well And Prevent Those Christmas Blues

Christmas BluesFor many people this is the final day of work till the New Year. Others like care workers, policemen and hospital workers will be working over the whole of the festive period. Working unsociable hours can be crucial in order to boost many people’s income and they welcome the extra money in their pay packet. For some employees, however, working unsociable hours and missing out on time with their family can lead to serious issues with their engagement and productivity. Often there is no easy solution to this thorny problem and bosses have no choice but to schedule employees to work and for many employees it is part of their contract of employment.

Of course it isn’t only during the holiday season that employers find it difficult to balance employee wishes and business goals, any periods when customer demand increases can cause issues with staff scheduling.  However, there are steps businesses can take to ensure that they minimise employee disengagement and gain tighter control of overtime costs

Managers can minimise the impact on employees and their bottom line if they are able to track and schedule their employees fairly and accurately. Controlling overtime payments and absence by scheduling those people who have spare hours available and are happy to work is a lot easier if they have the processes and technology to automatically manage employees. Making self-service shift preferences available and keeping an eye on absence levels can help managers monitor employee engagement and make informed decisions around scheduling.

You can find out more about employee engagement and how important it is to your business take a look at this white paper ‘Employee Engagement As A Competitive Differentiator’



10 Ways to Cut Costs Without Cutting Jobs

Job CutsBusinesses of all shapes and sizes are feeling the pressure to do more with less. When looking to see how operations can be streamlined and budgets tightened, losing people is seen as the logical solution for many. Before taking this step, it’s worth asking a few questions about how well the workforce is being utilised and how many people the business really needs to operate efficiently and profitably. Understaffing has an impact on service delivery, productivity, sales and ultimately the bottom line; on the other hand, overstaffing is wasteful and expensive.

So how do you get the balance right?

1. Talk to other teams
Effective staff planning can’t be done by one department in isolation. To understand current and future business demands, you will need to consider a cross-function team to include HR, Sales, Operations and Finance.

2. Keep your staff informed
Remember nothing is more de-motivating than too much or too little work to do. Communicate to everybody why getting the balance right is important to the business. It will improve employee engagement.

3. Focus your business
No matter which industry you work in, understanding your business driver/s is key to getting staffing levels correct. Every business is different, and taking the time to understand where your company’s focus should be will benefit your employees and strengthen your bottom line.

4. Spread the word
Make sure your employees are on the same page. Keeping staff aligned with the corporate strategy is essential to ensure that employees are not just working hard; they are all working towards the same goals.

5. Measure the workload
Get an accurate picture of how long tasks take to perform. Understand how long it takes to load a truck, clean a hotel room, deal with a customer or assemble a boiler – without this knowledge, you’ll never be able to accurately align staff with demand.

6. Talk to your staff
Take time to review and capture their skills, availability, preferences and certifications. Then create profiles using this information. You’ll need these profiles to deploy the appropriate staff to meet the needs of your business.

7. Consider a workforce management system to optimise staff schedules
It will take more than pen and paper or a complex spreadsheet. With so many variables affecting staffing, only a sophisticated workforce management system will allow you to accommodate all the constraints and variables; legislation, time-worked, breaks, employee preferences, skills and certifications, balanced with the demand from the business.

8. Invest in the right technology
Mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets mean staff can quickly update their availability. Allow staff to request holiday, swap shifts, and update availability and preferences.

9. Execute flawlessly
It doesn’t stop once you’ve created the perfect schedule. It will become out of date as soon as someone calls in sick or a car breaks down. Reacting quickly will make all the difference.

10. Reflect and refine
Once you’ve worked out a good method of matching staff to demand, you will see a significant reduction in overall staff costs and an improvement in customer service, productivity and employee morale. But don’t stop there. Take time to maintain employees’ skills and certifications and use the process to highlight opportunities for staff development and training. Continuous improvement is the name of the game.

Find out where you are on the workforce management maturity curve.

This was an article that was published in Management Today a while ago that I thought would be of interest to you. Let me have your thoughts and comments.