Scheduling and Forecasting to Improve Employee Productivity

Although obtaining and maintaining productive employees is no simple feat, you can increase the odds through scheduling and forecasting. Read on to learn more about it.

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Scheduling and Forecasting to Improve Employee Productivity

Here's what you need to know:

  • You can avoid or minimize certain risks to your business by deploying sound scheduling practices
  • Scheduling and forecasting tools improve employee productivity by helping to control labor costs, offering greater visibility into workforce planning, and enhancing the employee experience
  • Obtaining the data needed to make reliable forecasts and scheduling decisions is virtually impossible without modern HR technology
  • So, it’s important to adopt an HR solution that comes with the necessary scheduling and forecasting tools

Productive employees yield optimal long-term results. They provide their employers with a positive return on investment and contribute to a healthy workplace culture.

They also tend to be more engaged and fulfilled when it comes to their work. Although obtaining and maintaining productive employees is no simple feat, you can increase the odds through scheduling and forecasting.

Read on to learn about scheduling and forecasting, plus the importance of technology to these processes.

What is scheduling and its importance in the workplace?

Scheduling is the process of establishing work schedules for employees in order to meet current and future business needs.

Scheduling is especially critical in industries that depend on hourly workers, such as manufacturing, retail, restaurants, and healthcare. This is because, oftentimes, hourly employees:

  • Need to be assigned work shifts based on customer/product demand
  • Must clock in and out
  • Are eligible for overtime
  • Are subject to break and meal period laws

When done improperly, scheduling can cause:

  • Inaccurately timed shifts
  • Excessive overtime
  • Overworked employees
  • Misuse, or insufficient use, of break and meal periods
  • Poor customer service
  • Chaotic business operations
  • Increased labor costs
  • Low employee morale
  • High turnover

You can avoid or minimize these risks by deploying sound scheduling practices.

What is forecasting and its importance in the workplace?

Forecasting is the process of leveraging employee data to identify workforce trends and predict future workforce needs. Forecasting seeks to answer questions such as:

  • Do you have enough employees for the current work requirements?
  • Which business areas will likely need more staffing, and when?
  • How many employees do you need now and in the foreseeable future?
  • How will current project changes impact your workforce strategy?
  • Also, how will potential organizational changes affect your workforce strategy?
  • How well are your employees adjusting to their work schedules?
  • Which employee behaviors are impacting scheduling the most?
  • Are your employees overutilized and/or underutilized in particular areas?
  • Do you (or will you) need to cut back on staffing? For example, should you implement a hiring freeze, reduce work hours, or lay off certain people?
  • How can you apply scheduling in ways that fuel employee productivity?

According to 1 report, forecasting includes the following 3 components:

  • Demand planning. Determines how many employees will be needed for each position and organizational unit.
  • Internal supply analysis. Assesses whether the current labor supply is enough to meet business demands. Managers will need to consider factors like current talent supply and potential situations like retirement, job changes, and turnover.
  • Gap analysis and action planning. Evaluates staffing gaps and determines solutions for closing them. Strategies may be centered around pay, benefits, organizational structure, promotions, transfers, reorganization, and more.

Scheduling and forecasting: Working together

Scheduling and forecasting share the common goal of optimizing employee productivity. While they have unique features, the 2 ultimately work hand in hand. Meaning, employers utilize forecasting to inform their workforce needs and strategies, including how managers can best schedule employees.

However, obtaining the data needed to make reliable forecasts and scheduling decisions is virtually impossible without modern HR technology. A manual or outdated system will not have the tools you need to make these decisions in a timely and accurate fashion.

So, it’s important to adopt an HR solution that comes with the necessary scheduling and forecasting tools.

How scheduling and forecasting tools improve employee productivity

Helps control labor costs

Controlling labor costs is one of the biggest challenges for many employers. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly how many employees are (or will be) needed, plus the impact of staffing on the bottom line.

For this reason, employers may end up overspending on staffing. Payroll leakage is a good example of this.

Controlling labor costs is one of the biggest challenges for many employers.

Per a Deloitte report, “Payroll leakage is unintended or unexpected spending or lost revenue related to labor activity.” It is “a significant source of overspending as well as lost productivity. Employers often suffer from up to 2.5 percent of total payroll expense being lost to leakage.”

The following are common areas of payroll leakage:

  • Excessive overtime and bonus pay
  • Abusing the timekeeping system or pay policies
  • Lack of cost/benefit or cost/demand analysis
  • Discretionary and incentive pay practices
  • Not taking advantage of revenue opportunities

Deloitte says payroll leakage is most evident where there are deficiencies in the technology being used. Outdated or fragmented technologies and inadequate tools for measuring the total impact of labor costs are top reasons why payroll leakage happens.

Modern HR software helps prevent payroll leakage by supplying the data-driven insights you need to conduct forecasting and scheduling. At the same, it helps ensure you’re offering competitive wages and benefits to incentivize employee productivity.

Offers greater visibility into scheduling and workforce planning

The business and employment climates are always changing, sometimes without warning. The ability to adapt is a key determinant in whether an organization will not only survive but also thrive.

Regardless of the climate, you must be ready for staffing challenges, which can impact not only supply but also where, when, and how your employees work.

HR software can provide insights into employee behaviors (e.g., absenteeism, work styles, shift preferences), so you can make decisions that drive productivity, even during times of uncertainty.

It also delivers intelligence on how to meet on-demand scheduling needs and how to determine whether a more distributed or diverse workforce is needed.

Enhances the employee experience

If employees are scheduled in a way that supports work-life balance, they will be happier at work — and this contentment will show in their job performance.

Scheduling and forecasting tools make it easy to develop flexible schedules, increase engagement, and eliminate many of the issues that fuel employee dissatisfaction and turnover.

Choose the right scheduling and forecasting technology

As demonstrated, you will have an extremely tough time implementing scheduling and forecasting best practices with inferior technology. So, it’s important to select an HR solution that will support your scheduling and forecasting needs.

For example, Zenefits integrated software includes advanced scheduling and forecasting tools designed to increase employee productivity.

With Zenefits scheduling tools, you can:

  • Create and edit shifts for all employees
  • Notify employees when new schedules are available
  • Block out dates to work around individual schedules
  • Develop schedules around roles or times, whichever you prefer
  • Monitor employee activity in real time
  • Manage PTO requests
  • Stay compliant with labor laws, including predictive scheduling, breaks/meals, and overtime regulations

With Zenefits forecasting tools, you can:

  • Access reports to understand employee activities, such as clock-ins and outs, the number of hours each project has incurred, and analytics on overtime pay
  • Create easy-to-understand visualizations to gain insight into employee trends
  • Glean dozens of data points from workforce demographics, industry specifics, and more
  • Align your workforce strategy to company success
  • Easily share workforce insights with members of your leadership team, thereby keeping everyone on the same page
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Scheduling and forecasting tools are vital to productivity

Without them, workforce planning and optimization will become tedious and laborious for your managers and HR team — because they will have to rely on error-prone and time-consuming systems. These antiquated systems can also contribute to overspending on staffing, or payroll leakage.

Your employees, as well, will feel the effects of poor scheduling and forecasting practices, including stress, burnout, and job dissatisfaction.

By adopting a modern, integrated HR solution, you can gain valuable insight into your workforce needs and eliminate scheduling woes.

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