Scheduling your team’s shifts is a lot like juggling. So many moving parts require your constant attention and, for each one you lay your hands on, two or more remain completely up in the air. Once you toss in holidays, PTO, overtime, sales forecasts, customer expectations, and legal compliance, even the most adept grocery store manager can soon find their skills pushed to the limit.
Luckily, new software technologies are replacing the pen, paper, and spreadsheet applications grocery stores have long relied on for ensuring adequate coverage. With robust feature sets and cross-platform integration capabilities, these automated employee scheduling solutions can take the guesswork out of adjusting last week’s schedule to meet next week’s needs.
You already have the data you need to create effective schedules
Most grocery retailers already collect sales information within their POS programs. Modern systems provide granular sales volume data categorized by department, right down to the date, hour, and minute. Equipped with this information, store managers can make the most efficient use of the labor available to them.
For example, you might have an intuitive sense that the deli counter gets busier on weeknights as people are getting out of work and planning a quick dinner for their families. But, if you’re solely trusting your observations of in-store activity, you’re working from a very limited—and statistically flawed—sample.
Hard data is the key to tracking actual customer behaviors and their impact on not only your sales and inventory, but also your staff scheduling. Creating an always-on data pipeline between your POS and your employee scheduling system can transform the way you calculate labor costs. With the click of a button, you can factor in sales figures, customer counts, item counts, and other metrics. The totals you ring up via this method can supply invaluable business intelligence.
Just as importantly, facilitating data exchange between your POS and scheduling systems can accelerate the process of turning your store’s calendar into a fully functional scheduling template. Rather than copying and pasting shift information from week to week, your managers can focus on fine-tuning employee utilization to ensure that your talent is placed in the best position to succeed.
Identify hard-to-spot coverage gaps
Your best employees are always ready to jump in and cover a shortage in another department or fill in when a co-worker is sick. This willingness creates a resiliency that keeps operations running smoothly. Unfortunately, this otherwise laudable team spirit can inadvertently perpetuate the scheduling problems that create these gaps in the first place. The manager tasked with scheduling may not recognize a shortage exists when employees go above and beyond.
However, your POS system already allows you to review the true sales figures for each department. By pulling this data and plugging it into your automated employee scheduling solution, you can ensure real—not hypothetical—coverage. Right-sizing your staffing at the department level will ultimately lighten the load on all your employees and keep overtime to a minimum.
Avoid noncompliance penalties
Fair workweek initiatives are being implemented across the country, adding a new layer of requirements to federal, state, and local labor statutes. Navigating all of the changing terms and conditions can be tricky. That often means violations aren’t a matter of negligence or malice, but rather of genuine ignorance. Whatever the cause, however, the penalties incurred represent an unnecessary expense.
Smart automated employee scheduling software can help your store avoid paying these fines by using rules that account for advance notice, mandatory breaks, and other requirements. Additionally, managers can tag positions that require safe food handling certification, ensuring only employees with the appropriate credentials are assigned shifts with those responsibilities.
Increase employee job satisfaction
Assigning shifts can be difficult for managers, but shift work itself can be hard on employees, too. Many grocery employees struggle to maintain a healthy work/life balance because they simply don’t know from one week to the next when or how much they’ll be working. But with an automated employee scheduling system, employees can be more active participants in the scheduling process.
With these solutions, employees no longer have to call in and ask a coworker to read them their schedule for the next week. They can log in to view, acknowledge, and accept their scheduled hours from anywhere. This is particularly useful for employees who are on vacation or otherwise out-of-pocket when the new schedule is posted. They can also use the system to ask for specific days off, request shift swaps with co-workers, and then verify their requests have been approved.
Access to features such as these gives employees an overall sense of empowerment. Employees who feel more in control of what happens in their workplace are often both happier and more productive. They are also more likely to be willing to contribute to the positive company culture that is vital to talent retention and recruiting.
Labor management tools for growing grocery chains
Large national chains and big-box stores are not the only grocery retailers that can handle and can benefit from this new technology. After all, grocery retailers of any size know plenty about juggling staff schedule requests with the needs of store operations. To optimize performance, they can leverage scalable technology solutions that take the guesswork out of this and other labor management activities. The net result? Less improvisation and more opportunities for strategic planning, greater operational efficiency, and higher profits.
TRUNO’s workforce management technology can streamline your shift scheduling, ensuring optimal coverage with the right people working at the right times.