Employee Happiness is important. Satisfied employees lead to higher productivity, better customer interactions and even improved adherence to safety procedures. Consistently strong levels of employee happiness is a lofty goal, however, it’s one that is certainly achievable. There are many solutions out there for boosting satisfaction, but we think that fundamentally, you need a solid foundation to build this from. That foundation is rostering. If you get this right, you’re off to a great start and can continue building employee happiness from there.
Many managers across shift-based work industries understand the intricacies of organising team scheduling. The average manager spends 7% of the working week organising schedules because there is simply so much to juggle. It can end up feeling like a Rubix cube, attempting to move everything into place to create one “correct” structure. This is because you have to consider a plethora of different factors when scheduling shifts, from personal employee preferences, to employment law, to the business performance of the location you’re scheduling. However, you can turn rostering into the foundational basis of your employee happiness.
The Ryanair Case
The consequences of mismanaged shifts and unhappy employees can really spiral, and in some cases, even hit the news! Scandals such as Ryanair’s mismanagement of pilot schedules, which lead to 20,000 cancelled flights is a perfect example. It’s guaranteed that this resulted in a lot of disgruntled passengers but also pilots, too. Not knowing when you’re meant to be working can lead to a series of problems.
Employee schedules are a great basis to ensure that everyone is fundamentally happy with when they’re in and out of work. It also avoids tired, overworked people being on-shift, ensuring that your business gets the quality treatment it deserves. So, what elements lead to a happiness-boosting schedule?
Here are our top 8 tips for ensuring that your scheduling and schedule management keep your employees happy:
1. Get flexible
Many shift-workers enjoy their jobs because of the flexibility and convenience that scheduled work provides. Especially if it’s part-time. You can capitalise on this happiness by really respecting this benefit. If someone wants to change a shift, you should have a system in place which allows shift-changes, within a certain time period. In addition, ensure that you are scheduling people’s hours appropriately in relation to whether they are part-time or full-time workers.
As you may notice from the tone used, we do not recommend a self-rostering system to incorporate that flexibility into schedules.
2. Respect their preferences
Taking into account employee preferences for when they work is hugely important. This means understanding if someone has a regular commitment, which makes them unavailable to cover certain shifts.
For example, a mother or father who regularly has to pick their child up at 2pm every Tuesday cannot be expected to work around that exact time. Ensure that your workers are happy and comfortable with their shifts, based on their scheduling preferences.
3. Conform to skills
It might sound straightforward to only schedule the employees to the designated task they can actually perform, but as hectic times can ask for drastic measures it’s no surprise that employees are sometimes asked to fulfil another high demand type of work.
Assigning employees to shifts that fit their skill level and role does not only maintain safety in the workplace, it also lowers stress as employees won’t have to improvise on the spot to adjust to their newly acquired task and it allows them to do their job in full confidence.
4. Refreshment breaks
Ensuring that employees are refreshed with breaks throughout the working day is really important. It is well known that a break gives employees a chance to gear up for their next few hours of shift again. Providing employees with the breaks that they need is a great way to boost happiness. It’s to no-one’s surprise that enforcing breaks is a key element of employment law.
5. Impartial Scheduling
It’s important for schedule managers to be impartial. Friendships develop at work between managers and shift workers and this means that when creating the schedule, favouritism may be shown. While it’s only natural to connect and make friends, this can make other workers feel left out and unsatisfied.
Friendships at work, however, should certainly be encouraged. This is because they encourage higher employee happiness, creativity, job performance and team cohesion. Ensure employees are happy and able to let their friendships bloom with impartial schedule creation.
6. Avoid “Clopenings” like the plague
“Clopening” is a term coined by workers in the retail and hospitality sector in the US. It refers to a shift in which you are expected to both “close” shop for the night and then return the next morning in order to “open” shop. This results in a lack of sleep for the employee involved, as well as stress and fatigue.
Clopen shifts occur because certain employees may be trained to do necessary tasks like counting and locking away cash overnight and then putting it back in the tills the next morning. However, you definitely want to avoid relying on just one employee to open and close shop regularly. In the EU, this is not legally possible due to set minimum duration between two shifts.
Ensuring that there is an even spread for this responsibility will lead to increased overall happiness. In the US, we avoid this with “forward rotating shifts”.
An additional note here is that companies which require night-hours for restocking, stock-counts and resets can also slide into this dangerous habit of scheduling back-to-back shifts. Keep it in mind and make sure that everyone gets adequate time off between shifts!
7. Consistency with scheduling
Ensuring that people consistently and regularly know when they are expected to work is key for maintaining high levels of happiness in your workforce. Release the schedule in good time and try to minimise changes. 17% of the workforce is estimated to have irregular shift schedules. Not knowing a work schedule with certainty has been shown to lead to higher work-family conflict, stress, and unhappiness. Release that schedule early, and get those employees smiling!
8. Peak hour preparation
Hardworking or hardly working? Peak hours are a stressful part of the day as your employees are theoretically running around in an attempt to help customers and to shorten lines as fast as possible. Of course peak hours don’t last all day and they alternate with off-peak hours, a time where your employees are scrambling to find something to do after finishing every task on the list. Finding that balance might be hard but by taking that into account in your scheduling, you’re sure to find your employees in a happy space between highly stressed and bored out of their minds.
Happiness-boosting scheduling with AI
And there you go: 8 tips to increase employee happiness using rostering. We make it sound easy, but we also understand that including all these elements in your employee scheduling can be a challenging task to accomplish, especially when you have a large pool of employees. However, with the help of latest technology in workforce optimisation that doesn’t have to be the case any more. Workforce Optimisation allows you to optimise employee schedules for employee happiness, without driving costs, compromising on service levels or compliance with labour laws. More specifically, Automated Employee Scheduling technology helps you to automatically generate shifts that comply with break rules and to assign your employees based on their contracts, roles, skills and personal preferences. With the power of AI you’re sure to make rosters that make your employees happier and take the difficulty off of your hands.