Scheduling has always been a major concern for hourly employees. Retailers are responding to these concerns by introducing new technology. For example, Walmart recently introduced a new electronic employee-scheduling system at more than 650 U.S. stores to try and get the right employees in at the right time, improving productivity.
FierceRetail spoke with Steve Kramer, CEO of WorkJam, an employee relationship management platform that provides solutions so employers can help employees take charge of their schedules. Kramer offered some tips on working with scheduling legislation and this technology platform so that all workers can be happier and more productive.
FierceRetail (FR): Do you expect predictive scheduling legislation to expand in 2018?
Steve Kramer (SK): While it’s difficult to predict where fair scheduling legislation will spread to next, laws from U.S. states and major cities last year signal a broader shift toward predictive scheduling in retail. In August, Oregon was the first to implement fair work week laws on a statewide level, and major cities like New York and Washington D.C. have also implemented similar laws requiring employers to distribute schedules at least two weeks in advance (or offer additional compensation for last-minute shifts). There are also over a dozen states that are now considering similar legislation. Given this trend, it’s likely that other jurisdictions will adopt similar laws in the near future.
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FR: How do fair scheduling laws impact retailers and their employees, and how can they adapt?
SK: For retailers, one challenge of these laws will be to avoid understaffing or overstaffing without being able to send employees home early or turn to on-call scheduling for backup reinforcements. Since retailers need certain flexibility in how they manage their labor in relation to demand, they must embrace new digital workplace technology that enables employee self-service tools such as the ability to pick up shifts through a marketplace of open shifts. This new technology can help retailers achieve similar flexibility while remaining compliant with fair scheduling laws. A digital workplace opens communication between employers and associates, creates a more agile workforce, and provides the tools for employees to stay engaged and connected.
FR: What are the benefits of giving employees control over their own schedules?
SK: It's important to remember that there are a number of benefits for both retail employers and employees when associates have more control over their schedules. With the right technology, associates can be given more tailored opportunities to pick up shifts that meet their needs (and the needs of the business) giving them more control and flexibility over their work schedules and their economic well-being. This drives higher levels of employee engagement which result in improved levels of customer service and sales as well as lower levels of turnover resulting in reductions in labor costs. While retailers affected by these legislations will need to adequately prepare and adapt some of their practices, giving associates more flexibility in the scheduling process can have a major positive impact on the performance and profitability of the business.