Monday, October 30, 2023 · 8 min read

The Impact of Automated Scheduling on Employee Work-Life Balance

Guest Contributor
Guest Contributor
The Impact of Automated Scheduling on Employee Work-Life Balance

When scheduling and managing working shifts come into focus, the main concern is usually how a business will benefit from it. But here’s a tip from the Human Resources Management 101 class: employees are the key asset. If they are happy and motivated, they can boost revenues just by the sheer quality of work and services they deliver. This rule also works in reverse: overworked and unheard employees are less inclined to contribute 101% to their work. They just do the required minimum, waiting till the shift ends – or don’t even meet the minimal work expectations.

In addition, automated scheduling will make compliance with new regulations about working conditions easier and more efficient.

You know this as a responsible and intelligent business owner,  so let’s focus on more technical stuff. How can you automate your scheduling process to help employees get optimal schedules, get a decent work-life balance, and generally feel appreciated?

In a nutshell, you must pick a reliable and powerful tool for automated scheduling. Then, you’re set to grow your revenues and employees’ satisfaction and retention.

Benefits of Automated Employee Scheduling

Really good scheduling software should help you achieve several important goals related to the workforce and their needs, so let’s explore these benefits in detail.

1. Lower Labor Costs

Introducing automated scheduling does not mean that you will automatically fire someone because you don’t need them, and so you’ll save money on their wages. That would be an irresponsible approach. Instead, automated scheduling will let you understand the bottlenecks of your staffing approach and how to improve it. 

In turn, improved shift distribution will save money on overtime compensations, expenditures on safety issues, accidents, or money losses from lost customers or overstaffed shifts on low season/time of the day.

If we look carefully, everything becomes obvious. Manual scheduling is often unintentionally biased and open to human errors and habitual actions. So, some employees may get assigned to more shifts while others don’t get enough. Or challenging shifts with many customers are understaffed or staffed by inexperienced workers, while lulls in work see an influx of workers with little to do. 

Tired employees tend to have more accidents, and inexperienced workers may need more skills to deal with busy shifts. All this leads to money losses instead of making a profit.

When you run a fundamental analysis of factors to consider and then integrate them into your scheduling tool, the machine builds a fair shift scheme. All people have a chance to rest, and all shifts are appropriately staffed to meet the demand.

2. Streamlined Operations

Manual scheduling always includes important data in decision-making, so problems will always arise. Someone just cannot show up on a particular day or time or demands a day off instead of additional shifts to work. Besides, feedback and close communication with employees is a must, preferably gathered in one place, accessible to managers and employees alike.

A good automation scheduler can incorporate all demands and factors without ‘forgetting’ anything. Then, it will allow employees to communicate their concerns directly into the app so their requests don’t get lost. Scheduling becomes streamlined and more efficient, and people feel heard and respected.

3. Improved Employee Satisfaction & Retention

This point stems from two previous ones: when shifts are distributed reasonably, everyone has their share of work and leisure. So there is little reason to quit for them. Money is only part of employee retention. Real work-life balance is as important as compensation. So when you can create work schedules that respect workers’ needs and rights (while keeping your business humming), do it.

4. Full-Cycle Compliance

Parts of labor legislation are regularly reviewed to protect workers from unfair treatment. It’s tough to consider all new requirements while making schedules manually. Namely, scheduling regulations ask that employees should be informed about their shifts far in advance so that they can adjust their plans or ask their employer to move their shift to some other time slot. Informing people that their shift begins in an hour or even in 30 minutes is illegal (and unreasonable, for that matter). Automated scheduling allows you to create schedules far in advance and comply with strict regulations. Automation helps to fit the job requiring 3 to 5 hours of work into half an hour.  So you can build proper schedules speedily and accurately without delaying this dreadful task.

5. Workforce Flexibility

A good scheduling tool allows for two-way communication that lets workers have a say in schedule-making. Some people may have ample reasons to ask for different shifts or specific times of day, and it’s reasonable to listen to these demands. Once they’ve sent their requests through the planning tool, it can notify you about these specific preferences. So you won’t have to scramble for a substitute at the last minute. Automatic scheduling makes workforce flexibility an achievable thing, and that’s amazing.

6. Work-life balance and automated processes

When shifts are allocated automatically with regard to equal distribution of day and night shifts, the overall work-life balance of your workers improves. You can program the tool to adjust for the needs of people with kids who ask for specific time slots or other serious reasons people may have. Then, you win devoted employees who will invest 200% into their work and have fewer burnouts or reasons to leave.

All you have to do is get software that won’t miss valuable data while putting together schedules and will keep track of fair shift distribution. You skip a good deal of monotonous and error-prone work and build a strong, healthy, and highly motivated team for your business.

How to Solve Scheduling Issues Properly

Now that you know how a good automation tool can help you and your staff, let’s explore how to roll out and fine-tune this software to get the most out of it.

1. Identify your specific scheduling issues

Every business is unique, and your organization may face scheduling and staffing issues different from those similar organizations face. So look closely when and where your scheduling problems arise: at certain times of the day, on certain days, or seasonally. Overstaffing or understaffing? Matching workers to a shift? Absenteeism? Burnout and high turnover? Pinpoint the specific issues to solve first.

2. Collect employee feedback on scheduling issues

The next step is to hear what people have to say. Their remarks and requests may be the solutions to the problems you’ve pinpointed. Collect the feedback and see how it fits into the problematic areas you’ve found. Complaints of chronic lack of workers can signal understaffing or about shifts when more employees should show up to work. Burnout and desire to quit because of fatigue and lack of work-life balance point to the unfair distribution of shifts. Absenteeism is a loud signal about a broken system of schedule notices and planning of shifts without workers' input. The list can be long; your task is to listen and to hear what is said.

3. Review and update your scheduling policies

When you first try to reshuffle schedules, you should draft new scheduling policies and practices by hand to keep track of everything. You decide what steps you will introduce (or remove) to improve scheduling and what suggestions become policies. State what is off-limit and how flexible schedule changes and adjustments can be negotiated (and when). 

4. Use scheduling software or tools

You can deploy the software when you’ve drafted these new policies and talked them through with your workers. Enter all details and specific requests you’ve gathered and run the program. See how the schedule is made and discuss it with people. If everything seems fine, apply the schedule. Then, gather feedback, analyze how things are going for the business now, and fine-tune more, if necessary. 

5. Develop a standardized time-off request process

Requests for time off are probably one of the most triggering topics for you and your employees. So, to avoid conflicts and to honor their reasonable requests, develop a streamlined policy for this situation. Explain how far in advance people need to ask how often one can ask for schedule changes, and so on. Employees who don’t have the time to recharge burn out and quit. It’s simpler to arrange a reasonable schedule that balances their needs and business needs than to see your whole team quit one day.

Automation of Manual Processes

Alongside the scheduling automation, it’s reasonable to automate the tasks your workers have to do as much as possible. We don’t mean cutting their roles altogether. We mean giving your team valuable tools to facilitate monotonous tasks and save energy for the work that matters, like serving customers.

1. Identify the tasks that can be automated

Again, talk to your team and analyze individually what can and should be automated. Automation minimizes the possibility of errors and increases productivity without overloading your team. That’s very important. Any small task that wastes time and can be performed automatically should be outsourced to software.

2. Choose the required automation tools

When you know what to do, it’s time to pick tools. If you plan to roll out large-scale automation, integrating many apps and functions into a single network, look at Zapier. It’s an extensive instrument that connects your social network accounts, links email to the CRM system, integrates payment and feedback tools into your dashboard, and many more.

If you need more specific and fine-tuned automation, look at Google Docs. Their toolkit can help automate smaller tasks without buying a separate software package – and do it efficiently.

We urge you to pay special attention to the automation of label-making processes, which can be time-consuming and open to errors if everything is done manually. Labels are used everywhere, from shipping to product marking.  So, the creation of accurate labels improves your business processes.

Foxy Labels is an optimal instrument for label printing automation because it utilizes Google Docs as a base. It transfers information from your CRM and other tools into Google Docs, helps you create clean and stylish labels for different purposes in this environment, and sends them to print immediately. This app does most of the work while you focus on other urgent tasks, and don’t worry about accuracy and speed.

3. Configure your automation

Once you’ve set your automation tool up, run a trial and see where the possible bottlenecks are. Gather feedback from workers. Configure the tool until it meets your needs at 100%.

Your workers will appreciate automation instruments as an addition to their working toolkit, especially if it helps them be productive while maintaining a work-life balance. Your business will have a lot of gain from it, as well.

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