The weekly task of building a schedule could be completely automated except for one thing. Your store is staffed by human beings.
Employees get sick. Their babysitters don’t show up on time. They need to swap a Saturday shift so they can make that high school reunion that has somehow snuck up on them.
Once grocery managers have matched store coverage needs to employee availability, they need to have confidence that every employee has reviewed—and understood—the schedule they’ve so painstakingly constructed. But posting a print-out in the break room isn’t always enough to guarantee this is the case.
Let’s look at how mobile scheduling software can bring workforce management for grocery retailers out of the digital dark age, and why that’s a good thing for you, your employees, and your customers.
3 scheduling headaches—and how mobile technology can cure them
Mobile scheduling software allows you to store completed schedules and all supporting documentation in one secure repository that is remotely accessible via smartphone. But to focus on these technical capabilities would be to miss the human element so critical to this solution. Mobile scheduling software gives employees an active role in schedule-building and gives managers a platform for more effectively communicating their coverage needs. It is, in other words, anything but a “black box.”
Any IT person is familiar with this concept. Information goes in, information comes out, but who knows how the black box transforms the former into the latter? That lack of transparency is where processes and procedures that depend on those inputs and outputs start to break down. Worse, confidence and trust can erode in opaque conditions.
By opening up the black box that is your legacy scheduling system, mobile software can help your managers spend less time explaining, reconciling, and otherwise dealing with these common complications.
1) Defining availability. Managers have to juggle many considerations when creating a weekly schedule. Copying and pasting information from one week to the next is an imperfect system at best. Coverage needs can fluctuate widely with the seasons and employee availability changes. Moreover, acknowledging and approving employee requests often requires sorting through handwritten memos, emails, and voice messages.
With mobile scheduling software, managers need no longer chase after this information. Instead, employees enter their availability and time-off requests into a master database. There, they can be searched, retrieved, and pushed to other scheduling workflows.
2) Swap shifts. “Life happens,” as the saying goes, and changing circumstances aren’t conducive to a stable schedule. An unexpected, last-minute event can render an employee unavailable, or two employees may decide they prefer to work each other’s shifts.
Whatever the case, mobile scheduling software helps to automate the approval of shift swaps. Employees can initiate a request and instantly make it visible to all stakeholders. With the click of a button, the changes resulting from this request cascade through the schedule, affected team members are notified, and misunderstandings that might otherwise leave a shift uncovered are avoided.
3) Bid scheduling. Traditional scheduling, whether via pen-and-paper or spreadsheet, can be laborious. Bid scheduling that makes shifts available on a first-come-first-serve or seniority basis can provide some relief. Nevertheless, the scheduling supervisor still has to review the bids and select the “winners.”
Bid scheduling works well only when employees have a level of time management skills. Newer or younger employees may not be ready for it, while a department staffed by long-tenured employees can’t get by without it.
Mobile scheduling software gives managers the flexibility they need to deploy bid scheduling at a granular level, automatically set up conditions and algorithms, and manage user permissions (such as only allowing certain employees to bid on certain shifts). They can even suppress bid scheduling functionality as they see fit. For this reason, mobile scheduling is the preferred solution for managing flex work.
Trends with benefits: What else can mobile scheduling do for you?
Besides allowing managers to avoid complications and special situations like those mentioned above, mobile scheduling offers grocers other measurable benefits.
1) Curtail labor costs. Turnover is expensive. Having to frequently recruit, onboard, and train new employees can quickly blow a hole in your budget. Keeping your employees happy is essential to retaining them. Empowering employees to manage their time proactively on the fly gives them a sense of autonomy and encourages engagement, which in turn leads to higher levels of job satisfaction. Satisfied employees are not only likely to provide better customer service, they are also likely to hang around longer.
2) Appeal to a “mobile-first” demographic. For many millennials and Gen Z’ers, their smartphone is their computer. They view these devices as necessities, not mere conveniences. Just as your store is actively appealing to tech-savvy customers by offering mobile-friendly shopping and checkout experiences, you should also consider the role mobile plays in attracting tech-savvy talent. The availability of a mobile scheduling option could be the difference between hiring a promising new team member and losing them to a competitor.
3) Improve compliance. The right mobile scheduling software can allow you to tighten the security checks around your employee’s sensitive personal information. This is especially true if your store or chain has employed an in-house solution that pulls data from your payroll, attendance, and/or time clock systems.
4) Harvest actionable business intelligence. Mobile scheduling software doesn’t just give you tools for managing schedules. When coupled with robust reporting and analytics tools, it can enable continuous optimization of your scheduling operations. Integration with your existing POS, inventory, and accounting systems places that data in a context that supports proactive, strategic decision-making.
Scheduling doesn’t have to be the top-down, heavy-handed, logistically challenging process it used to be. It can be collaborative, more equitable, produce better results, and consume fewer resources—chief among them your managers’ time. And one key to starting this transformation is mobile scheduling technology.
Check out TRUNO’s workforce management solutions that can make scheduling complications a thing of the past.