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Intelligent Workflow Automation: The New Age of Employee Scheduling

Introduction

As organizations continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, effective labor redeployment is top of mind, particularly those from industries that employ shift workers. This demanding period brought to the surface the magnitude and implications of ineffective and inefficient shift filling processes. As a result, organizations are re-thinking how they can streamline and automate non-value added activities in this arena.

A logical place to start is communications - letting eligible employees know about vacant shifts. Automating shift callouts greatly reduces the amount of effort required to fill available shifts. Time is no longer spent dialling phone numbers, listening to ringtones, or leaving messages. Automating the callout process of offering shifts enables Scheduling Staff to fill available shifts with approximately 8-10 minutes of effort (this translates to 40-60 available shifts filled per day). This is a good start, but we have only scratched the surface!

 

Task Optimization vs. Automation

To maximize value and efficiency gains from automation, it is crucial to identify and understand the difference between solutions that offer task optimizations vs. solutions that provide workflow automation. Task optimization is fragmented and often disconnected from the larger workflow; while manual work has been reduced, it has not been eliminated. While the callout may be automated, the tasks leading up to and following the callout are still manual:

  • The process of building a call list is manual;  
  • The process of writing the message is still manual;
  • The process of monitoring the responses is manual;
  • And so on and so on.

While you have optimized one task, several others are still manual and inefficient. This is where workflow automation tools come in; zoom out and look at the entire task. Where does it start, where does it end? What steps are taken along the way? Workflow automation should address each task within the workflow, not just one. 

Going back to our example, 50% of the 8-10 minutes it takes to fill a shift are spent on non-value added activities. These manual tasks include selecting which shifts need to be filled, identifying and selecting the employees that should be notified for the shift and then sending that list off to be auto-called. Scheduling staff and frontline employees do not need to do this, as intelligent automation can do this for you. All of the extra time and resources saved from full intelligent automation adds up, especially in high volume environments.

Taking a holistic approach automates each of the specific tasks within a workflow, improving interoperability (why connect multiple solutions vs. one unified solution) and improves staff productivity & satisfaction. Further, employees are freed up to focus on more strategic value-added activities. From an organizational standpoint, this holistic, unified approach serves to future proof your technology investment.

 

User Experience

Avoid Notification Fatigue

One challenge with respect to automated shift callout solutions is sending too many notifications to employees. If an employee is getting inundated with shift offers, they may lose interest and not pick up shifts they are normally scheduled for. The average individual in today’s society receives 63.5 notifications on their phone each day1. How are you going to make yours stand out?  

Grouping / batching shift alerts or notifications (i.e. an unfilled shift newsletter) allows you to send one notification alerting an employee for all vacant shifts rather than individual notifications for each shift.

Meet Employees Where They Are - Personalization

Providing capabilities to personalize shift preferences drives increased adoption and engagement at the employee level. This includes everything from what types of shifts the employee wants to work, what days they want to work on, preferred shift length(s), and if they want to be notified of shifts available on days they are already scheduled to work. Further, give employees the ability to personalize their preferences for how they want to be notified about shifts - via text message, automated phone call, email, or some combination.

Giving employees control over what shifts they are notified for may seem counterintuitive at first with respect to maximizing shift filling. However, you will be able to fill more shifts by allowing employees to proactively opt out of shifts they have no interest in working. The goals here are fewer but better offers for shifts that employees are interested in working and a reduction in the overall number of notifications per filled shift.

Additional Strategies for Consideration

Providing capabilities to book shifts in advance optimizes the process of filling future vacant shifts and creates a win-win scenario for both employees and the organization. Employees gain the luxury of applying for available shifts as soon as they become known. This gives employees the ability to manage their work-life balance as they can apply for available shifts weeks in advance. By posting and filling available vacant shifts months in advance, organizations are able to reduce their vacant shifts by over 60%.

Often, staffing challenges can actually be scheduling issues that can be solved with practices that fit employees' expectations for the types of shifts offered. For example, an employee may not be available to work a 12-hour shift, but two employees may be available to cover six hours each if partial shift capabilities are enabled.

 

How Andgo Helps - Intelligent End-to-End Workflow Automation

Automate the entire process of filling vacant shifts with Andgo Systems! Automatically communicate vacant immediate & future shift details to eligible employees – fill more shifts faster, with the right people. Transform complex scheduling processes into auditable, transparent workflows that eliminate manual involvement and repetitive mundane tasks.

Andgo Systems offers a full suite of tools that span the employee scheduling lifecycle, leveraging and extending the tools already found in the scheduling system of record, eliminating clicking through procedure sets, call lists, and selecting notification criteria.

Andgo’s product suite includes:

  • Smart Call - go beyond simply automating shift callouts, addressing all tasks in the process, from dynamically building call lists, routing communications, and monitoring responses. Vacant shift details are communicated in a transparent manner to eligible employees via SMS text, email, and phone per the employee’s notification preferences. Employees can bid simply by responding to a text message or phone call.
  • Shift Pre-Booking - streamline the process of filling future vacancies. Employees gain the luxury of applying for available shifts as they are known, providing them planning capabilities re: what works best for them and their work-life balance. The organization benefits by filling more shifts in advance, reducing the burden on scheduling teams to fill as many immediate need shifts.
  • Quick Dial - a streamlined incoming phone system for reporting, recording, and routing unplanned employee absences to scheduling teams via the dashboard, automatically organized by priority and category.

These products are supported by centralized decision support guidelines to reference staffing levels vs. baselines just-in-time when processing shifts. Andgo’s schedule integration capabilities serve to further close the loop on the path of created shift to filled shift. Reduce manual entries and sync all changes with the scheduling system of record automatically.

 

Article sources:
1. ACM Digital Library:
https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/2628363.2628364

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