The Workforce Management Secret Your Employees Wish You Knew

Do You Make Employees Schedules? You Must See This Trick.

It’s profound, right?

Sometimes, it just happens.

You get really, really, lucky.

You get to learn from someone amazing. You get to work with a genius. You know what I mean, right? When you have that moment. The “aha” moment.  Someone teaches you something.  And it just clicks.  You knew all along there was a better way to make work schedules for employees.

It happened to me.  I had the opportunity to learn from someone who is remarkably brilliant. Someone who is much smarter than I am.  How can I explain? A workforce manager that employees actually loved.  Who’s employee schedules were perfect. We all aspire to be there.  To have the perfect balance. To know our employees so well. To build our employee schedules so perfectly.  I think this employee scheduling trick will help all of us make better work schedules.

Imagine this. Your workforce management forecast comes. It’s big. You’re going to need every single workstation staffed. Every employee you can get scheduled. You need every full-time and part-time employee on a shift. You need to stretch and schedule your workforce as much as you can to fill this rush.  Sound familiar?

But its not a common enough rush to start hiring employees.  You know that this rush only happens once every couple weeks.  You can’t make employee schedules in between. And if you start hiring more staff you’ll have too many people to make schedules for between the rushes.  Not enough hours to go around.  And we all know employees without enough scheduled hours are not happy employees. And equally you aren’t going to ramp up just to turn around and do layoffs. That’s just not fair to anyone.  Employee scheduling can be done better.

So what can you do? Management expects you to fill the shifts with the employees you have.  To just make it work.  You’re the scheduler.  Employee scheduling is your job…  Meanwhile, employees want days off.  Time with family.  Rest.  And you know they deserve it too. You have to find a better way to make work schedules.

This is what I learned from someone smarter than me.  Flex your workforce.  Sound familiar? Oh sure, you can get everyone to come in. You can keep all of your employees happy.  And you can avoid that feeling if impending burnout.  That’s what everyone says.  But the truth?  If only it were that easy.

But what if I told you a secret.

That there is a way.  And that it works every time.

Often when you get struck with a profound realization you know it right away.  You know its important. You know it will make a difference. And often you feel like you already knew.  And you probably did – somewhere in your subconscious, right? You just needed to give yourself a hint.

So about flexing your workforce.  That profound detail.  It’s all about your employees.  Your workforce will not flex because you want it to.  Nor because management wants your workforce to flex.  Your workforce will flex because everyone who is a part of that team wants to flex.  Together. And as a complete team.  The trick is how to get everyone to want to flex at the same time?

Incentives.  Incentives.  Incentives.

I said it three times.  Yes, that important.  But you have to do something else too.

You have to find a way to really make everyone want to flex at the same time.  To want to be on that shift. To want to follow that schedule. Something that outweighs – even temporarily – their desire to do things other than working.  You’re competing against family, friends, and personal life, so you have to make it good.  But you have to do something else, too.  I’ll explain.

The customer who taught me this trick settled on $50 incentives.  Their program is pretty simple.  Any employees who worked 8 hours more than they were scheduled during the “flex” week was given an additional $50. To be eligible employees had to maintain good schedule adherence and attendance for their scheduled shifts.

It seems so simple, right?  Well… not so fast.

The first week they implemented the flex it worked perfectly.  Nearly everyone went for the bonus.  The next Monday they pulled the employee attendance reports.  Imported them to Excel along side the employee schedules.  Then spent a few hours figuring out who should get the bonus. Then sent that list off to payroll.

Perfect.  So a few weeks go by and its time to flex the workforce again. They put up the bulletin – Easy $50!

But this is where things changed.  It didn’t seem to work as well.  Fewer employees tried for the bonus.  And so it went on, until after trying a few more times, nobody was really interested by the bonus. Everyone stuck to their normal employee schedule and that was all.

So what is it? What was missing, if it worked so well the first time?

Sometimes you just have to ask.  It turns out $50 isn’t really worth much if you have to wait a week for it to show up on your paycheck.  Employees were not willing to drop their plans for the money if they had to wait for the cash on payday.  But they would drop their plans on Wednesday and Thursday to have the extra cash for the weekend.

There it is.  That’s the second secret.  Immediacy.

Amongst other profound moments I decided that I wanted to share this one with you the most.  Your flex bonus program must be extremely simple to understand. And it must also be immediate.  If you really want your staff to drop their plans with things that are more important than work it has to be worth their time, and it has to be immediate. They’ll take your work shifts if its worth it at the moment.

So they setup reporting in their attendance software to help track who would receive the bonus. (By the way this is why I got to work with them: to set up TixTime reports to determine instantly who was eligible for the scheduling bonus.)

Now at the end of each flex week they pay out the bonus on the same day.  Employees don’t wait until payday anymore. They collect their bonus (in cash) on Friday. That’s all there is, its simple, and its immediate.

It works.  The employees want to flex, they want the bonus, and they get it paid when it matters.

Anyone who schedules employees must know this trick.  That’s how I learned about flexing.  And about being immediate with the bonus.  It all makes so much sense to me now.  Certainly there was an “aha” moment there.  But it feels like something I knew all along…  Seeing the bonus in action is when I realized exactly what it meant.  The magic wand is not the $50 bonus — the magic wand is having the $50 in your hand, now.

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