Boosting Profitability and Employee Satisfaction: The Power of Stable Scheduling
October 6, 2023
by Carrie Bradfield
Companies continuously seek strategies to drive profitability and ensure employee satisfaction in today’s dynamic business environment. A practice gaining recognition for its potential to achieve both these outcomes is ‘stable scheduling’. While traditional scheduling approaches look at last-minute schedule changes as a way to cut costs, a slew of recent research suggests predictability might be a better way to approach scheduling practices.
Stable Scheduling: A Win-Win Scenario
The University of Chicago took the lead in illustrating the substantial benefits of stable scheduling. Their study underscores that this practice bolsters sales and supercharges employee productivity. If boosting the bottom line and having a motivated workforce are your goals, which undoubtedly are for most businesses, then stable scheduling emerges as a pivotal strategy.
The Hidden Costs of Unpredictable Schedules
In their study, Gail Golden Consulting emphasizes the hidden costs associated with erratic scheduling. Employees grappling with unpredictable hours often suffer eroded morale. This disenchantment isn’t just an emotional concern. It manifests in increased employee turnover—a cost-intensive problem for employers. Every time an employee leaves, businesses incur recruitment costs, and a dip in productivity occurs as the new hire takes time to acclimate. Reduced loyalty, heightened stress, and lowered employee engagement are further byproducts of inconsistent scheduling. These intangible costs eventually impact tangible results like sales and profitability.
Impacts on the Retail and Service Industries
Harvard Business Review, in its 2018 article, looks at the retail sector. The article directly correlates between stable schedules and heightened sales and productivity. It’s easy to dismiss retail as a unique industry where footfall and sales are directly linked to the staff on the schedule. But, delve a little deeper, and it becomes evident that the principles hold true across industries. Employees who know their schedules can better manage their time, reduce stress, and commit wholeheartedly during work hours.
In a 2022 article from the Harvard Business Review, the authors focus specifically on service workers. The argument remains consistent: providing predictable schedules can significantly increase overall business outcomes. When employees in the service industry, known for its erratic hours, are assured of their schedules, they can better plan their lives outside of work. This planning translates into reduced absenteeism, enhanced job satisfaction, and superior customer service—all pivotal for business success.
Actionable Steps for Employers
As businesses evolve in their operations and strategy, there’s an underlying need to adapt to workforce expectations and requirements. Today’s employees, equipped with more information and choices than ever, value stability. They desire to balance their work with personal commitments, whether family, education, or leisure. Offering a predictable schedule is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’—it’s imperative to attract and retain top talent.
Operations teams can enact changes that emphasize stability and employ tools like Legion’s Workforce Management to enact stable scheduling practices in their organizations. Here are a few actions to consider:
- Audit Existing Scheduling Practices: Before overhauling the system, it’s essential to understand the current practices. Employers should identify pain points, understand employee grievances, and evaluate the business impact of erratic scheduling. Try to dig in and find out what organizational challenges might be causing erratic schedules, like delayed truck shipments, last-minute task work, etc.
- Engage Employees in the Process: Employers should engage in dialogues with employees to understand their preferences and constraints. Using a tool like Legion can allow employees to specify when they prefer to work, not just when they’re available. This can be a key tool for matching employees with shifts they want to work regularly.
- Use Technology: Modern scheduling tools like Legion have functionality that can make stable schedules work both for the employees and the business’s needs.
- Legion’s Smart Templates let you combine stable schedule patterns of recurring shifts with shifts created based on dynamic workload, giving employees a standard basic schedule that may flex as needed.
- Using employee availability that incorporates preferences on when employees want to work rather than just when they’re available gives Legion an advantage in finding the shifts that work for employees.
- Functionality, like offering open shifts, allows employees to self-select shifts they want to work in addition to their regular stable schedule. This is a great way to combine flexible needs with predictable scheduling patterns.
- Educate Managers: Ensuring managers understand the importance of stable scheduling and are equipped to easily maintain stable scheduling practices is key. Easy to use, accessible technology helps here, but remember the need to minimize disruption of a stable schedule by reducing last-minute changes to delivery schedules, tasks, and leadership visits.
- Regularly Review and Refine: As with all business practices, it’s important to continuously evaluate and refine scheduling practices to keep them aligned with evolving business and employee needs.
Stable scheduling isn’t just a trend; it’s an evidence-backed strategy that offers significant benefits for businesses and employees. By championing predictability, companies boost in their profitability and ensure a motivated, satisfied workforce powering their operations. In the ever-competitive business landscape, embracing stable scheduling might be the edge companies need. To learn more, schedule a demo today.