Why “Set It and Forget It” Scheduling Hurts Employee Retention


If you’ve worked an hourly job, you may remember going to the binder or bulletin board in the back office to check your schedule. Before or after your shift, you would’ve copied down the shifts you were scheduled to work. And if there was a scheduling conflict, you’d need to call team members to see if they’d cover for you.

Even if it’s been a few years since your last hourly job, your memories are probably consistent with today’s hourly worker’s experience. “Set it and forget it” scheduling, in which a manager creates and posts a fixed schedule for the next few weeks, continues to be the norm.

It’s time for companies to rethink their scheduling practices, though, and not just because of expanding Predictable Scheduling legislation. “Set it and forget it” practices are not only inefficient – they’re bad for employee retention. Here’s why:

Set Scheduling Impacts Employees’ Quality of Life

Hourly workers often fill multiple roles, like parent, college student or maybe caretaker.  According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, 45% of shift workers said they often experience work-family conflicts. That’s compared to only 11% of “regular” schedule workers who said the same.

Schedule instability can make it difficult to balance priorities, especially if something unexpected comes up, which can create stress. If, instead, employees are able to adjust their schedule as needed, it can help them stay on top of their personal and work responsibilities. This leads to more productive, happier team members.

Missed Shifts Cause Team Tension

Depending on the circumstances, calling out may be an associates’ best option when scheduling conflicts occur. In our research with a national retailer, 12% of associates said they knew they couldn’t work their shift within four hours of when it started. They might make an attempt to text or call coworkers to drum up a substitute, but they’re still at risk of calling out.

When a call out happens, it can create conflict within the team. It means the other scheduled team members have one less person to share the workload. It forces the store leader to start calling through the roster to try to find a last-minute replacement.

Team members may not see the effort the person put into trying to get the shift covered. They also may not know why the person had to call out. This can affect the team member’s relationship with their coworkers, how their manager perceives them, and their overall perception of the company.

Using a shift-swapping tool like Shyft, team members can post the shift to their team members and share why they need it covered. Then, their team and manager know a conflict came up and that they made an effort to fill the shift.

Top Talent Appreciates Scheduling Flexibility

To compete for high-quality candidates, companies can offer flexible scheduling as a unique benefit. The Society for Human Resource Management reported flexible scheduling is a preferred benefit for retail workers, citing a survey of 1,500 retail employees. Offering flexibility signals to prospective and current employees that the company supports work-life balance.

Companies who offer flexibility through mobile technology are even better positioned to attract a best-in-class workforce. Employees are increasingly active on mobile – especially Gen Z and millennial workers – and they appreciate being able to leverage mobile technology at work.

Seize the Opportunity

Considering competition for talent is high, and turnover is expensive, it’s in companies’ best interest to provide flexible scheduling as a benefit to their employees. Scheduling flexibility supports better employee engagement, which leads to other positive outcomes. When employees feel supported, they’re more motivated, teams work better together, and they’re more likely to provide excellent customer service.

Beyond employee satisfaction, companies can also seize labor liquidity benefits from scheduling flexibility. Shyft’s shift-swapping solution enables team members to trade shifts from their mobile device, which helps reduce absenteeism and ensures the sales floor is staffed appropriately. Managers can also react quickly to business changes and increase staffing levels by posting extra shifts for associates to quickly cover from their mobile device.

The historic “set it and forget it” approach to scheduling is holding companies back. By rethinking scheduling practices and exploring new, innovative options like Shyft, companies can not only increase efficiency but also increase revenue. Find out the 5 Ways a Mobile WFM Solution Drives Sales. Feel free to drop us a line to learn more as well!

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