One of the biggest challenges organizations are faced with in employee scheduling is improving fairness and transparency. These challenges are typically compounded by complex requirements, urgent deadlines and limited resources. Leaders and managers are often inundated with complaints or grievances by staff related to errors, miscommunications, and unfair shift appropriations.
The downstream effects of employee dissatisfaction on engagement and retention are alarming. A Health Affairs study (referenced in McKnight’s Long Term Care News) found that the turnover rate for disengaged healthcare employees (40%) is more than twice that of engaged ones (18%).1 Given the significant resources required to recruit, onboard and train new employees, the impact of a disengaged team is clear.
With that as the backdrop, let’s examine five keys to improving fairness and transparency in scheduling environments.
1. Reducing Human Error
When workflows require employees to perform repetitive and remedial tasks, the risk of human error can be very high. Instances of human error within scheduling impacts the productivity and efficiency of teams and departments while having negative mental health implications on scheduling staff. Strategies & tactics to reduce human error include:
Standardized Shift Call-Outs
An automated process to identify available shifts and the employees that are eligible to work them (factoring in a pre-configured union, position, and department rules) significantly minimizes the need for human intervention. Based on this built-in logic, shift notifications are sent automatically to employees according to their personalized shift preferences and communication methods.
Centralized Scheduling Workflow Hub
- One holistic, intuitive system of truth providing scheduling staff with a clear dashboard view of daily, weekly and monthly schedules & activities.
- Clearly identify all departmental, shift structure, shift capacity and related information so that staff can quickly gauge the overall status of schedules.
- Prioritize, Automate and Configure:
- Prioritize workflows based on urgency related to time, capacity or other factors influencing scheduling protocol
- Automate all actions related to sorting, tracking and organizing employee data; removing manual, mundane and detail-heavy tasks from scheduling workflows. This drives standardization while increasing employee satisfaction and the ability to focus on more strategic tasks
- Mirror current internal best-practice processes and iteratively improve upon them to configure a workflow that supports the way individual teams are structured and how they function. Reduce stress, time and risk of overlooking or erroneously prioritizing processing actions manually
2. Employees Scheduling Autonomy & Empowerment
Research has proven that there is a positive correlation between giving employees autonomy over their schedules and job satisfaction.2 This fact is rooted in the notion that employees feel they have more control over their work and thus adopt more role ownership while establishing a trusting relationship with leaders.
Tips for giving employees autonomy over their schedules include:
- Providing employees with the ability to personalize shift-callout preferences related to when and how they would like to be notified of open shifts
- Enabling employee access to dashboards with a calendar view of schedules indicating open shifts and all of the employee data related to shift eligibility (such as hours worked, seniority, skill/ competency requirements etc.)
- Capabilities for employees to view all the available shifts that have been posted in their unit and review the communication logs of when and how they were notified for the shift
- In the event the employee was not notified of an available shift, they can see the specific reason and rule why, providing transparency into the decision-making process
3. Avoid Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias can affect fair and transparent scheduling outcomes when the process is manual and remedial. Studies show that there are many factors attributed to unconscious bias, including high-stress environments, over-exertion of scheduling staff, high demand for processing actions, and many more. Interestingly, it has been found that in many cases, instances of unconscious bias do not result from unethical rationale but rather due to employees feeling pressure to get the job done - and they associate certain people or practices with doing so.3 Some tactics to avoid unconscious bias include:
- Create HR, Payroll and Scheduling rule sets into the system to categorize staff through employee data (skill sets, availability, seniority, etc.)
- Use a system that automatically updates and tracks employee data so that the most eligible employees, based on these rule sets, are scheduled accordingly
4. Managing Overtime & its Impacts
Over-time shift work can have serious consequences related to employees’ mental health and wellbeing. Studies show that frequent overtime shifts can cause mood disorders, anxiety, depression and disrupt sleep cycles. Overtime shifts are inevitable in Healthcare but can be managed to reduce some of the negative effects they might induce.
Some tactics to reduce the negative impacts of overtime shifts include:
- Limit employees’ eligibility for overtime through automatic tracking of overtime hours
- Create scheduling limitations on employees who have reached their over-time capacity
- Allow scheduling teams to view and assess over-time scheduling patterns and improve future workflows accordingly
5. Record & Track All Processing Actions
It’s important to store, track and retrieve all processing actions related to scheduling. Providing a data trail of processing actions is crucial for the following reasons:
- Scheduling related questions/ complaints/ grievances are quickly assessed with processing data tracking
- Increased trust between management and employees through transparency of processing actions
- Employees are provided access to their scheduling information, along with the actions, steps, and decisions made in relation to that schedule
- Opportunity for scheduling staff to analyze and assess scheduling trends and forecasts for future improvements
Summary & Conclusion
Creating a fair and transparent scheduling environment for your employees will go a long way to improving morale, mental health, and, subsequently, engagement and retention amongst your employees. By leveraging intelligent automation in scheduling, you can create a high-functioning environment of accuracy, efficiency, transparency, fairness, and empowerment.
How Andgo Helps
The Andgo Intelligent Workflow Automation Suite is a complete end-to-end solution that automates the communication processes of receiving and filling employee's planned and unplanned leave requests—effectively closing the loop on absence management.
Fairness and transparency are built right into Andgo, with auditing capabilities and visibility throughout every stage of the process. These stages include: the reporting of absences, determining if a vacancy needs to be filled, identifying who is eligible, communicating to those eligible employees and finally awarding the shift(s) to the most suitable employee(s). Andgo’s holistic, intelligently automated approach not only creates significant efficiencies but also builds trust amongst all stakeholders involved.
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