Hidden Complexities of Overtime and Time Off: 5 Quick Scheduling Insights
Coordinating people and shift schedules is deceptively complex, especially in always-on industries like oil and gas, manufacturing, healthcare, and public safety. Schedulers exert considerable effort when deciding what employee to assign to which shift, at which time. Often, they’re so deeply involved that they can overlook how complicated the process is. It doesn’t even occur to many schedulers that a significant proportion of the time and energy they spend on scheduling is avoidable.
The long list of details schedulers commonly overlook includes managing overtime and time off – both of which are top concerns, especially at certain times of the year. The holiday rush, for example, produces a sharp increase in demand for workers and extra shifts, accompanied by a surge in employee time-off requests. Balancing these opposing dynamics with the fiscal year-end can create a perfect storm of logistical chaos for managers.
These myriad scheduling details – hours worked, OT rules, tracking accrued PTO, and who’s available to sub – often rely solely on specifics that managers “just know.” But manually juggling so much complicated data is a recipe for unnecessary – and intensive – work. Think about how much more could be accomplished by freeing up the time and brainpower of these avoidable tasks.
Before you can take steps to relieve your employee scheduling burden, it’s important to identify the answers to the following:
- Which challenges are more complex than they seem?
- How much extra work are schedulers already doing in their heads?
- What are the organization’s unique scheduling requirements?
The better you understand these basic questions, the more effectively you can streamline your employee scheduling.
Next, consider the following elements of overtime and time-off management to build on these foundational insights:
1) Effective Communication
How do you confirm timekeeping with managers? Do you find subs through a phone tree or handle work requests through email chains? Are availability changes and workload increases provided in real time? Better productivity starts with more efficient communication across your organization.
2) Overtime Monitoring
Do you know who is at risk of 40+ hours this week? Can you account for time split between multiple departments or locations? Does overtime pay seem unavoidable? Mentally logging hours worked is exhausting. Standardize timekeeping records and processes to offload that burden, avoid fatigue, and better control costs.
3) Time-Off Visibility
When considering time-off requests, how do you verify how much vacation was already taken and how much remains? When are they scheduled to work? Do you have enough people to cover their shifts? You don’t need to keep track of these details in your head.
4) Overtime Standards
Overtime concerns include questions around eligibility, calculation methods, and pay rate. What about shifts that start and end in different pay periods in terms of overtime accrual? Enact rules around these terms so you can set up a system to easily reference and apply them fairly.
5) Time-Off Standards
Who handles time-off administration in your organization? Do certain approvals require authorization from different managers or HR? Are time-off requests processed quickly? Systematized time-off management lets you set uniform guidelines and automate approvals to meet your needs.
Structured overtime and time-off management can benefit your organization beyond operational effectiveness and financial considerations. Employing strategic overtime practices, combined with tools that allow you to equitably manage workload and provide channels for shift preferences, can improve workplace atmosphere and employee morale.
It’s Time for a Comprehensive Scheduling Evaluation
Hidden scheduling complexities don’t end there. OT and time-off complications only provide a glimpse into the many underlying challenges managers face. So before attempting to solve your employee scheduling problems, take a step back and consider the big picture. Using a full assessment of your organization to guide your search will help you identify the solution that best fits your unique needs.