The economic downturn has caused many companies to rethink the way they operate. Many have had to make dramatic reductions in overheads in order to remain viable. One way of achieving this is by introducing shift work as an alternative to costly overtime. This significantly increases the use that can be made of capital equipment and results in up to three times the production compared to a normal single day shift.
Initially used mainly in heavy industry and manufacturing, shift work is becoming increasingly common in other sectors where shutting down machinery would involve an extensive restart process. A good example is food manufacturing plants which have to undergo extensive cleaning every time before they can start food production.
For many companies, the pressure to compete effectively has led to increased use of shift work to get the maximum output from their workforce. This has created enormous challenges for operations managers, particularly with regards to workforce management and employee scheduling.
One key responsibility for operations departments is to keep a tight control on administration costs, which can be quite a hefty task. With so many positions and skill requirements to meet, there is no room for error especially when dealing with hundreds or even thousands of workers operating 24/7 and covering hundreds of shifts.
To guarantee optimal staff deployment, a number of factors have to be integrated into the workforce management procedure. Key data must be taken into consideration including wages, staffing requirements, skills, staff availability, holidays, peak workloads and budget allowances.
Financial management and analysis is vital for controlling staffing costs. Accurate financial modelling of proposed shift patterns and associated budgets is vital for shift workers to be deployed effectively. Operations managers also need to monitor individual, shift and position remuneration rates in order to keep a tight rein on labour costs.
Use of employee scheduling software
Effective shift workforce management involves assigning the right employees with the right skills to the right job for every shift. Eﬀective use of workforce management software is the key to achieving this and keeping tight control on labour costs.
Employee scheduling software often features Scheduling Conflict Verification to eliminate error and highlight potential problems with operations. Many programmes provide communication via automated notifications or specific correspondence to individuals and groups and some even offer the facility for remote check-in/out via smartphone, PC or even SMS.
Installing a self-service User Portal will allow shift workers to check their own shifts from a computer, smartphone or tablet 24/7, so they know exactly when they should be on duty. It also allows employees to advise scheduling managers of their availability, accept assignments and update their own personal work rota.