Work Schedule Communication Is a Strategic Process
Companies with good employee engagement are 21% more profitable than companies with poor engagement. -Gallup
Driven by global competition, now more than ever, organizations are dependent on nurturing healthy relationships across all levels of their business to align their workforce with a common goal. While most employee engagement and strategic communication initiatives are focused on salaried employees, we believe these same initiatives, when applied to hourly workers, can produce the same dramatic benefits seen by their salaried counterparts.
For hourly employees, the employee schedule is at the center of daily life. Employee schedules determine paychecks, vacation time, day-care planning, sleep schedules, transportation, teammates, job responsibilities and much more. Naturally, this means the schedule is a point of stress for most managers, schedulers, and hourly employees.
Consistent communication, whether it occurs in person, over the phone or electronically, is connected to higher engagement.-Gallup
To best ensure hourly employee satisfaction remains high, strategic communication around the employee schedule must be a priority. This guide breaks down how to boost employee engagement by using strategic communication to ensure employees have the information they need to do their jobs and plan out their personal schedules. Improving schedule communication can also lead to increased productivity, lower absenteeism, lower turnover. All of these factors lead to higher profits in the long-run. This means that developing an employee engagement strategy is key to growth. For enterprises with hourly workforces, that process starts with quality schedule communication.
Our goal is to help organizations take realistic steps towards engaging their hourly employees by providing insights and best practices for improving communication efforts around their employee schedule.
Learn more about how Shiftboard approaches communication to improve the employee scheduling process.
The Value of an Engaged Workforce
Before we focus on optimizing communications about the schedule, we must first tackle why employee engagement is critical to employers. According to Gallup, improving employee engagement strongly impacts the overall well-being of the business. Improved employee engagement was found to have the following effects:
- 17% higher productivity
- 21% higher profitability
- 10% higher customer satisfaction
- 41% lower absenteeism
- 24% less turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
- 59% less turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
- 70% fewer safety incidents
- 40% fewer defects/quality issues
Similar results can be observed for hourly employees when employers focus their efforts on improving the communication between their schedulers and their staff. When hourly employees can engage in the scheduling process, job satisfaction is higher and, more importantly, less likely to actively disengage from the organization. Active disengagement decreases productivity, weakens revenue, and negatively impacts your existing labor force.
The Challenge of Disengagement
On a global scale, current employers are currently facing a cocktail of challenges. In an environment characterized by political unrest, social change and technological evolution, employees are feeling anxious about the present and future direction of the working world.
As leaders have tried to adjust to a rapidly evolving global reality, the average employee across the globe is left with a great deal of fear and anxiety that threatens their full engagement at work. -Ken Oehler, Aon Hewitt’s Global Culture & Engagement
With questions about market conditions, job automation, and career opportunities still unanswered, employees are hesitant to engage with employers fully.
- Nearly 70% of all U.S. workers don’t like their job.
- 12.8 million US hourly workers age 16 or older are actively disengaged at work.
- Actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity.
- Global engagement is trending downward (2015: 65%, 2016: 63%).
The only irreplaceable capital an organization possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it. -Andrew Carnegie
The Cost of Active Employee Disengagement
Statistics are nice, but they lack the punch most companies need to act. Using averages calculated by multiple research organizations, we can make an educated guess on the business cost of disengaged employees.
- Gallup found that on average, actively disengaged employees cost an organization 34% of their salary in lost productivity.
- Gallup also found that actively disengaged employees make up 16% of the workforce.
Simply fill out the form below to reveal how much money you may be wasting through employee disengagement every year.
x 16% =
x 52 weeks
x 34% =
When hourly employees are disengaged and dissatisfied at work, they become unproductive. This decrease in productivity comes at a steep cost to the organization. Actively disengaged employees tend to exert the minimum effort required to maintain a steady paycheck. They are quick to display negative sentiments about the business, may negatively influence other employees and may ultimately slash profits.
More and more, companies realize that it’s not enough to hire good workers. They must keep employees engaged or risk the consequence of good employees becoming actively disengaged. While the consequences of disengagement are daunting, employers can breathe a great sigh of relief as strategic employee schedule communication is here to help. In the following sections, we will cover the proven steps employers can take around schedule communications to both encourage employee engagement and re-engage actively disengaged employees.
Learn how Shiftboard streamlines communication between managers and employees.
Employee Engagement Toolkit
Learn more about how to boost hourly employee engagement.
Components of Good Schedule Communication
In our experience, when employers promote good communication around their scheduling activities, they improve hourly employee engagement while also mitigating the risk of future disengagement. The challenge is determining which scheduling activities stand to benefit the most from improved communication. To strengthen your schedule communications strategy, we suggest improving communication efforts in the following areas.
Schedule AwarenessEmployees are attracted to organizations where their schedules are known, easily accessible and communicated regularly. The way organizations disseminate scheduling details to their hourly employees can both boost engagement and create a competitive differentiator amongst the hourly labor pool.
Process AwarenessCommunicating corporate scheduling practices ensures that employees are aware of the processes in place to help them control their working hours. Schedule communications can tell employees how to request time-off, change a shift, call in sick and handle other schedule management tasks.
Work Schedule ConstructionMost employees want a healthy work-life balance. Good schedule communication can assist both schedulers and employees by helping them share schedule preferences like availability, vacation time, shift trades and any unexpected changes. Transparent and understandable communication between schedulers and the workforce facilitates a more accurate schedule.
Workforce Communication ToolsThe best communication tool is one that gets used. Considerations like age, gender, cultural backgrounds, work habits, and worksite location may help you understand your workforce and align your communication methods to their preferences. Respecting these preferences often amounts to higher engagement along with higher productivity.
Targeted CommunicationOrganizations commonly group hourly employees by shift detail, job function, or skill set. Maintaining this segmentation in your schedule communications can allow schedulers to quickly send messages to only relevant staff. Targeting the right workers, at the right times of need leads to more efficient scheduling.
Schedule AlertsAs the schedule evolves, proper communication regarding schedule changes keeps employees up-to-date and engaged with your organization. Commonly used alerts include scheduling reminders, time-clock alerts, team broadcasts, change requests, shift acknowledgments, and workforce notifications.
Informed EmployeesSuccessful businesses frequently grow in new, unexpected directions. Hourly employees feel more engaged when they are kept informed of business advances. Employers can use the communication channels set up for scheduling to notify relevant work groups about new trainings, technological upgrades, business tools, policies, and any other operational changes.
Top teams that address engagement needs in their everyday work outperform bottom teams by an average 20% in sales and 10% in customer engagement, making it a worthy pursuit. -Gallup
Schedule Communications Best Practices
Maintaining high levels of employee engagement with the typical turnover rates typically associated with hourly labor is no easy task. However, following our best practices for schedule communication will not only help increase employee engagement, and better the odds that your employees will stick around. To optimize your communications, we suggest following our best-practice guidelines.
Make communication accessible.Between smartphones, laptops, email and even smartwatches, the range of communication tools modern employees use is vast. Use a variety of methods so your workforce can quickly receive important information
Broadcast essential communication from the top.While supervisors and managers can be proactive and open with communication, they also have busy schedules like the rest of us. Avoid missed and mixed messages coming from different supervisors by broadcasting essential communications from senior leadership to all affected workers.
Avoid excess communication.Amongst internal communication professionals, over communication is cited as the top problem. Your workers are not immune to the almost constant flood of information shared every day. Keep your messages relevant, timely and easily understood. Your workers are most effective when you deliver vital information at its time of need.
It’s all about mobile.Increasingly, workers live in an always-on environment. Having access to schedules, shift details and availability at a moment’s notice is paramount for today’s workforce. Anywhere, anytime access increases employee satisfaction by giving workers the flexibility to find information at their leisure.
Publicize new trainings and resources.Schedule communication is a great vehicle for keeping your workforce up to date with new trainings, policies, insurance plans, company events, workshops and a plethora of other employee resources. Promoting opportunities for employees to advance their careers encourages engagement and shows a company-wide commitment to bettering the professional lives of its workforce.
Keep scheduling communication actionable.Schedule communication is a great vehicle for keeping your workforce up to date with new trainings, policies, insurance plans, company events, workshops and a plethora of other employee resources. Promoting opportunities for employees to advance their careers encourages engagement and shows a company-wide commitment to bettering the professional lives of its workforce.
Provide avenues for feedback.While good communication transfers knowledge, great communication encourages a conversation. Inspire your workforce to become more engaged by opening multiple avenues for feedback. Engaged employees typically generate new ideas, provide feedback and openly express their opinions.
Acknowledge the exceptional.Respecting hourly workers helps hire and hold on to top talent. Acknowledging excellence shows workers that they are well respected and valued members of your organization. Senior leadership can take advantage of the communication channels set up for scheduling to show appreciation for the workers on the frontlines.
Maintain open communication.An open communication style shrinks the typical barriers between hourly employees and upper management. Open and honest communication throughout the scheduling process and the organization as a whole helps employees engage with one another throughout all levels of the organization.
Measure the impact of schedule communication.Mathematician Karl Pearson famously observed, “That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.” Good scheduling communication is set up to be measured against realistic goals. Common goals include faster fill rates, reduced no-shows, decreased overtime costs, and reduced tardiness.
Use the right technology.Schedule communication does not need to feel like a burden. The right communication tools can provide a simple and engaging solution to send and receive messages instantly. With the help of newly developed scheduling communication tools, organizations should have no trouble finding a solution that makes schedule communication a snap.
13% of hourly workers indicated that they request time off or shift changes via personal email; 15% do so via text message, and 6% do so via a Facebook group. Doing so in these non-secure, personal channels leaves companies without oversight, documentation or control. – Redeapp & Edison Research
Employee Engagement Tool Kit
Download resources to help you increase hourly employee engagement.
Role of Technology
Bill Gates put it best when he said, “Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without talking about the other.” Technology plays a huge role in how your employees engage with one another. Improving hourly employee engagement through strategic communication can be amplified by deploying the right employee scheduling software. Shiftboard understands that scheduling is only a part of what it takes to manage an active workforce. We see communication as the necessary sidekick to any scheduling pursuit. When evaluating scheduling software, we suggest considering the following capabilities, which we’ve built into our own solution:
Platform FlexibilityCommunicating with hourly workers to create a workable schedule is inherently complex. When looking for a scheduling automation platform, the solution needs to mold to your business, not the other way around.
Automatic NotificationsManagers and schedulers should not be burdened by communication that can be automated. Informing your workforce of schedule updates, shift alerts, and credential expirations should be set up as automatic communications.
Targeted Communication The most useful message is delivered to the right workers, as close to the moment of need as possible. Targeted shift reminders, schedule adjustments, team notifications and last-minute changes all need to live within your scheduling automation software of choice.
Announcements While most communication is targeted, employers frequently need the ability to broadcast messages across multiple teams or to one shared news source. A good software solution allows managers to make announcements via a variety of methods and mediums.
Manager Alerts Reducing human error is on the to-do list of most organizations. Great schedule communication tools alert managers immediately when a shift is missed, when a critical shift is left unfilled or when an employee is late to clocking in.
Worker StatusScheduling hourly employees requires that the scheduler has up-to-date information on the available workforce. The right scheduling solution should communicate the status of new employees, new certifications, relevant qualifications, general availability, shift limitations and other critical factors that may influence filling the right shift with the right worker
Multiple Mediums Schedule Communications must be available across numerous types of smart devices. Schedulers should engage workers with the tools they’re comfortable using. Features like SMS alerts, mobile-friendly schedules, mobile time clocks, two-way texting and in-app time-off requests greatly improve employee engagement.
Self-serve Many times, the biggest barrier to communication is poor timing. Workers need an access point to consume important shift information on their own time. Scheduling software that allows managers to see who’s on the schedule while giving workers the ability to trade or sign up for shifts frees up the scheduler’s time.
Feedback Efficient communication acknowledges when a message has been received. Good scheduling solutions offer various avenues for feedback. Hourly employee feedback includes actions like acknowledging assigned shifts, verifying traded shifts or adding notes to special requests.
IntegrationsBest-in-class scheduling solutions integrate with several other industry-leading tools. Integrating with iCal, Google Calendar, MS Outlook or other business tools gives workers the ability to consume information the way they want to.
If you’re considering a scheduling automation solution with robust communication capabilities, we’d love to talk. We’ve learned a lot from helping organizations across nearly every industry successfully schedule millions of shifts for countless workers. Let us show you how scheduling automation can improve your business and engage your workforce today!
Thank you for reading this guide. We hope you found some helpful insights and best practices to apply to your own scheduling efforts.