retail labour scheduling

The opportunity is everyone that enters your store: -

With the ever-increasing pressures and micro-thin margins, retail is constantly searching for ways to grow their top-line whilst controlling costs. In recent times, the major strategy adopted by many has been to optimise their labour. In my experience this has rarely resulted in reduced staffing hours; however, it has meant meeting the opportunity much better and in many cases the user of such tools has seen some very impressive sales increases; in one case, I am aware of an 18% increase in sales and a 12% increase in basket size.

Efficient staff scheduling using a simple online tool; can, and does make a huge difference to the business in many areas:

  1. Reduction in the time and attention needed at a head office level, resulted in one retailer claiming over £57,000 cost reduction on administration at head office alone on a solution that costs less than 40p per employee per week on a pay monthly solution
  2. Increase in sales driven by having staff in the right place at the right time: a small shift in staff start and finish times has increased many retailer’s sales conversion ratios by as much as 18%
  3. Holiday information and sick day reduction: keeping staff informed is king, letting them have access via their smartphone not only allows them to know what holiday entitlement they have, but has also proven to reduce short term sick day issues; one small retailer reporting this down by 27% over the year, resulting in savings of over £48,000
  4. Breaking the ever-changing rules & laws has always been a concern with young and part-time workers, after all very few store managers know their full legal requirements; where as a staff scheduling solution is fully aware, and will inform the manger if they do
  5. Other positive reports include, reduction in last minute schedule changes that make it difficult for workers to plan ahead, greater understanding and removal of Inflexible scheduling that degrades the employees' quality of life & positive reduction of consecutive closing and opening shifts which burn employees out

So Why change; what I have, works for me. That’s a sentence I’ve heard a few time, well........

Among the biggest impacts is worker attrition is due to job satisfaction, of which poor scheduling was cited as a key component. In 2015 a leading global retailer reported a 64% turnover rate for part-time retail employees. Whilst a recent in-depth study found that it costs, on average, £2,429 to recruit and train a replacement, earning minimum wage.

So what can retailers do to manage this delicate balance between their needs and employee needs?

The simple answer is to introduce a workforce optimisation best practices, enabled by properly configured toolset, can benefit the associate as much as the employer.

Some proactive steps the retailer can take are:

  1. Post schedules in advance — Leverage the value of predictive analytics and store traffic integration to develop a predictable schedule, which can be published to the workforce at least one week, and preferably two weeks, in advance.
  2. Ensure system enforces key constraints — The scheduling solution should enforce key business constraints and labour standards - including, assignment of consecutive closing and opening shifts, minimum/maximum shift lengths, and minimum number of hours between shifts — as well as manager and employee preferences.
  3. Increase communication and collaboration — Deploy web and mobile self-service applications that empower staff to manage their own availability and schedules through more frequent communication.
  4. Employ the right incentives — Legislation is now being enacted to ensure hours are provided to existing staff before retailers take on new employees; however, retailers should realise that accommodating their existing staff in this manner will ultimately benefit them. Providing the extra hours and monetary incentives can go a long way towards improving job satisfaction and loyalty, minimizing staff turnover and reducing the dependence on a part-time labour work force.
  5. Deploy a legally compliant solution — With steadily increasing legislation aimed at protecting the workforce, it is critical that retailers implement a scheduling solution that can ensure compliance.
With these measures in place, retailers can create stability for their workforce; and a more satisfied, happy worker is much more inclined to better service their customers, which in turn pays dividends in increased customer spending and loyalty.

It seems slightly bonkers to me; that many house-hold name retailers, large and small, schedule on what I can only describe as a piece of lined paper (being polite) based on historic sales with no eye on the future. Forget the time and energy that goes into generating this and then informing staff, forget the additional cost of head office working out salaries, even without considering the cost of staff questioning every small change and wage slip-up. Who has the time & money!

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