In this guide, we cover how effective employee schedule communication can improve hourly employee engagement, including:
Hourly employee engagement is the language of motivation – and only through motivation does anything get done. When employees are engaged, they are intrinsically motivated to do work that is interesting, meaningful, rewarded, and supported. For this reason, employee engagement is an essential strategy for doing business.
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. In environments where scheduling involves a high degree of complexity, like manufacturing, this stress can be even more pronounced.
To best ensure hourly employee engagement remains high, strategic communication around the employee schedule must be a priority. Ensuring employees have the information they need to do their jobs and plan out their personal schedules can also lead to increased productivity, lower absenteeism, and lower turnover. All of these factors result in higher profits in the long run. For enterprises with hourly workforces, the road to employee engagement starts with quality schedule communication.
The Value of an Engaged Workforce
Research shows that productivity and engagement go hand in hand. Engagement drives organizational performance more during hard times and economic disruption. A recent Gallup study found that highly engaged teams were more resilient than their peers during the 2001-2002 and 2008-2009 recessions. In fact, favorable job attitudes have a stronger relationship to organizational outcomes in bad economic times than in good times. This is important for employers to understand while working through the unique challenges presented to the workforce during COVID-19.
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:
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 staff 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.
With questions about market conditions, job automation, and career opportunities still unanswered, employees are hesitant to engage with employers fully.
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
The Cost of Active Employee Disengagement
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
When hourly employees are disengaged and dissatisfied at work, they become unproductive, which can come at a steep cost to the organization. Actively disengaged employees tend to exert the minimum effort required to maintain a steady paycheck, are quick to display negative sentiments about the business, may negatively influence other employees, and may ultimately slash profits.
Using averages calculated by multiple research organizations, we can make an educated guess on the business cost of disengaged employees:
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.
Employees 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.
Communicating 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 Construction
Most 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 Tools
The best communication tool is one that gets used. Considerations like age, gender, cultural background, 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.
Organizations 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 leads to more efficient scheduling.
As 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.
Successful 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 workgroups about new trainings, technological upgrades, business tools, policies, and any other operational changes.
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 helps increase employee engagement and betters 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 and retention 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 updated with new training, 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
A recent Gallup study showed that 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager. Furthermore, employees who receive daily feedback from their manager were 3 times as likely to be engaged than those who received feedback once per year or less. While good communication transfers knowledge, great communication encourages a conversation. Engaged employees typically generate new ideas, provide feedback and openly express their opinions.
Acknowledge the Exceptional
To hire and hold on to top talent, respecting hourly workers is essential. 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.
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. Scheduling is only a part of what it takes to manage an active workforce. The necessary sidekick to any employee scheduling pursuit is effective communication. When evaluating scheduling software, we suggest considering the following capabilities:
Communicating with hourly workers to create a workable schedule is inherently complex. When looking for employee scheduling software, the solution needs to mold to your business, not the other way around.
Managers 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.
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 staff scheduling software of choice.
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.
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.
Scheduling hourly employees requires that the scheduler has up-to-date information on the available workforce. The right software 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.
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.
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 allows managers to see who’s on the schedule, gives workers the ability to trade or sign up for a shift, and frees up the scheduler’s time.
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.
Best-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 it.
Thank you for reading this guide. We hope you found some helpful insights and best practices to apply to your organization’s employee scheduling process.
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