Scheduling is a strategic imperative for retailers
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Retail Contrarian, the blog of the Dynamic Experiences Group.
When, where and how to use our people is one of the more critical decisions a manager or owner makes. I’ll admit that for years I saw scheduling more as an item on my to-do list than as strategic decision-making, but looking back I see how much better I could have used my staff.
Let me share a few best practices to consider:
1. Bring scheduling into the digital age. There are some terrific websites that make scheduling and managing schedules easier and some include free smartphone apps for the staff.
My favorite is When I Work (wheniwork.com). It uses drag and drop for writing schedules, helps you manage your payroll budget and manages staff availability and requests. The staff can use the app to switch/cover days, and you can text and email schedules to the staff. The monthly fee starts at $15 a month for up to 12 employees, with other plans for larger staffs.
2. Help your staff balance work and life. Happier people in the workplace make for a better work experiences and that directly impacts the customer experience. That’s why I’ve always tried my best to be accommodating about switching schedules, giving requested days off, etc.
I have a simple rule: I’ll do whatever I can as long as it doesn’t impact the customer or store performance. Does it sometimes create extra work for me? Sure, but I need to find and keep great people. I’d rather have to accommodate great employees than not have to do anything for mediocre ones.
Source: When I Work
3. Schedule at least three weeks out. For a time I didn’t use to do this because the staff were always looking to change their shifts, days off, etc. Then I realized — that’s exactly why to do it.
Plenty of advance knowledge of one’s schedule puts the responsibility on the person to either do a better job of scheduling her/his life, or to find someone else to switch shifts with. I also believe it is more fair to the employees so they can plan when they have to work an event, cover a vacation, etc.
4. Schedule your best at peak times. Write the schedule for your top performers first, and then fill in the rest. It’s a delicate balance to make everyone happy, but first and foremost we want to make sure the customer is happy and the register is ringing.
So let me ask, how well are you making strategic decisions with your scheduling? You might also want to discuss this article with your management team, and come up with one or two ways you can improve how you can better schedule and maximize your people.
Which of the scheduling suggestions identified in the article do retail managers most often overlook? What tips would you add?