One of the problems that every retailer experience and try to solve with different methods is employee scheduling or staff scheduling. Although it might look a little complicated to plan a team of several employees' work hours, it can be a quick win to increase efficiency and optimize your spending if you find the right tools and methods.
Knowing your store's foot traffic with the right people counting solution is the easiest way to fix your staff scheduling. The reason is simple: the only way you can be better at employee scheduling is knowing your retail store's peak hours so that you can increase or decrease the number of employees you have in a given period of time.
Let's discover how employee scheduling can be an asset for your business.
What is employee (staff) scheduling?
Whether you manage a retailer or you work in a service-based industry such as a restaurant or a hotel, it’s important to keep track of when your employees come and go—and that’s where staff scheduling comes in.
Simply put, staff scheduling is the practice of setting up different hours for the employees on your roster to come to work. This type of scheduling is generally used in businesses that operate in shifts, as opposed to 9-to-5 office jobs where employees are expected to be at their desk at the same time each day.
Why use employee (staff) scheduling tools?
Traditionally, most business managers who needed to create employee schedules did so using two common tools: A pencil and paper.
Then came the advent of personalized computers, which allowed these managers to create spreadsheets digitally instead of doing it all by hand. These days, however, there are tools devoted specifically to employee scheduling that would make even these digital spreadsheets seem rudimentary.
The greatest advantage of today’s staff scheduling tools is that they save managers both time and effort. Yet the ability to expedite scheduling processes isn’t all that they can do: Modern software solutions offer a whole host of other benefits, from automating certain procedures to enabling smoother communication among team members. We’ll explore these benefits in detail below, so keep reading!
The importance of people counting for staff scheduling
Just as you wouldn’t throw a dinner party without knowing how many guests to expect, it makes little sense to schedule staff for work when you don’t know how busy your store will be.
The best way to do that is to use a foot traffic counter, which will help you determine how many people are in your store at any given time. By looking at data on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, you can begin to see patterns regarding when customers frequent your store, which will give you an idea of how many employees you must have staffed for those times.
One great option for brick-and-mortar retailers is to use a foot traffic counter like Dor, which can easily be integrated with most employee scheduling software. By accessing both foot traffic and employee scheduling data on a single dashboard, you can easily determine whether you need to increase or decrease the number of employees during rush hour to maximize profits.
Click here to discover how a people counting solution like Dor can help you understand your foot traffic data and how to utilize it for better staff scheduling.
10 key benefits of employee scheduling
Still not convinced?
Here are some of the key benefits to use employee scheduling tools to optimize your business and increase your profits.
1. Allows you to manage the schedules of different departments
If you run a mom-and-pop store with just one employee and set business hours, you may find that employee scheduling is not a top priority for you.
But for any other business with multiple employees who have tasks other than customer service (such as stocking inventory, reorganizing store layout, or distribution), staff scheduling becomes a must. To set your business up for success, it’s crucial to implement the right employee scheduling solution to keep track of all these different moving parts.
2. Helps you minimize errors through the use of technology
As the well-known proverb says, “To err is human.”
Whether you’re using a pencil and paper or a digital spreadsheet to manage your employees’ schedules, it’s incredibly easy to make a mistake—like understaffing a certain shift—and not notice the error until it’s too late. Thankfully, there are tons of options on the market for employee scheduling software, which come with a host of benefits for business managers.
Most of these solutions have built-in features that alert you if there are uncovered shifts or if you’re understaffed for a certain shift, allowing you to deal with the issue before it even arises.
3. Cuts down on redundant tasks
Most employee scheduling software allows you to copy schedules from past days, weeks, or even months.
So you can start saving you precious time if you simply have to replicate the work you’ve already done.
4. Lets your employees collaborate on scheduling
Employee scheduling can help you save time in more ways than you originally thought!
Managers with multiple employees can implement scheduling software that allows employees to trade shifts among themselves, with the managers giving approval for the final schedule. Not only does this mean you won’t have to waste time resolving scheduling conflicts, but it also helps your employees be accountable for their schedules.
The good news is that most scheduling software solutions also offer these collaborative features in mobile app form, allowing employees to access and manage their schedules anytime, anywhere.
5. Enables you to automate vacation, sick leave, and time-off requests
Similar to our point above, most collaborative employee scheduling software solutions also allow your workers to place online requests for time off, whether it’s for a week-long vacation or a two-hour window for a doctor’s appointment.
A solution such as this is really helpful for managers because, while it eliminates the burden on you to remember everyone’s special circumstances for requesting time off, it still allows you to have the final say on such matters, as most software require a supervisor’s approval for the request to be accepted.
6. Helps you forecast busiest times based on past trends
Employee scheduling software is quite useful on its own, but did you know you could combine it with other business analytics solutions to boost its effectiveness?
By cross-referencing data from different sources such as employee scheduling software, foot traffic counters, and POS data such as conversion rate, you can analyze past trends and see which times are busiest for your store. That way, you can schedule your staff accordingly for holiday seasons or high-volume shopping weekends.
7. Provides a metric to assess employee performance
The same software that allows you to schedule your employees’ shifts can also come in handy when it’s time to evaluate their performance.
Particularly in the case of retailers and restaurants, it’s a good idea to look at sales data corresponding to the shifts of different employees. Perhaps there is a specific employee or group of employees who excel at making sales—having this information on hand can help you schedule your best employees for when you need them the most.
8. Sets a track record for employees
Using scheduling software for employee performance assessment comes with another added benefit in that these solutions will usually notify you if an employee is underperforming, such as being chronically late to or absent from work.
Certain software systems even allow employees to self-report on how long they spent completing a particular task, which you can use to gain an understanding of your employees’ baseline performance. That way, if you find that you need to speak to one of your employees regarding any issues, you can rely on concrete data to do so.
9. Lets you communicate with all employees instantaneously
Let’s face it; it’s easy for a message to get buried in group chat—even if it’s from your boss. And for those managers running stores with multiple locations, it can be daunting to even keep up with multiple chats involving multiple groups of employees.
Thankfully, today’s employee scheduling solutions have features that enable managers to communicate messages to their staff. Let’s say you have a busy week coming up and you need employees to pick up extra shifts, or you need a few people to come in on a Sunday and unload inventory. With a staff scheduling tool, you can send out company-wide announcements such as these with the click or tap of a button, and your employees will be notified instantly.
10. Allows you to carve out time to groom your staff
Using employee scheduling software combined with a foot traffic counter can help you figure out a downtime during the day that could be put to better use, like training your employees to take on new tasks or have them cross-train one another.
Not only will this approach give you a more well-rounded staff, but it will also make them feel part of a team that values their growth. And you know what they say: Happy employees make happy customers.