Workforce Scheduling Strategies to Help You Weather the COVID-19 Storm

When a crisis hits, it can be much like navigating a storm through uncharted waters. While it is impossible to predict how the fury will evolve or impact your business, operational agility is essential to respond to unpredictable dynamics with a strategic mindset. It is the key to maintaining the course as well as preparing for the future.

As operations leaders adapt to limitations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the significant “course corrections” we see many businesses making is how they approach workforce scheduling to meet the various changing requirements of the company and the workforce.

To ease administrative burdens, and adapt to continuous change, many workforce managers are turning to flexible workforce scheduling strategies as the answer to the unique operational challenges they are currently facing.

What is flexible scheduling?

Flexible scheduling can mean different things for different businesses, depending on their operations goals and processes. It includes providing flexible work schedules, changing the locations of where people work, and repurposing the roles they perform.

A paradigm shift away from static scheduling is underway for many companies across the country, enabling improved agility to mitigate risks, minimize absenteeism, and ensure operations continue to run as smoothly as possible. Additionally, the practice of flexible scheduling is helping businesses remain eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal program intended to incentivize companies to maintain their full-time workforce during today’s uncertain economic climate.

Flexible scheduling is complex in practice, but technology can help

Covering open shifts in a dynamic environment and finding open shifts for available workers are two of the biggest challenges workforce managers face today, and it’s a complex process to implement manually. However, workforce scheduling technology is a purpose-built solution to flexible scheduling complexity, and many organizations are leveraging it with great success.

For example, before the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the government municipalities we work with traditionally took a siloed approach to scheduling their workforce. They assigned employees to specific roles, in static shifts, for set timeframes, perhaps on a four-week rotation.

Today, these municipalities are using workforce scheduling technology to schedule workers and assign shifts dynamically. They are restructuring their teams and work schedules to identify work opportunities that map to worker availability and skills.

Through technology, they are creating large float pools of workers, which makes it easier to assign workers for multiple roles, across multiple locations, and for multiple shifts.

Organizations in the healthcare industry are also benefitting from flexible scheduling strategies as administrators are scrambling to schedule hundreds of healthcare workers and optimize those assignments based on experience, capabilities, work hours, and other restrictions. Other front-line businesses are experiencing similar challenges to meet the surge in labor demand and ensure all shifts are covered.

A win-win strategy for businesses and employees

We are charting an unprecedented time in modern history. Workforce managers are facing urgent problems that need immediate solutions. Through workforce scheduling technology, customers already have access to the tools to solve those problems. By enabling sophisticated scheduling strategies through robust technology, our customers are effectively addressing the challenges of avoiding layoffs, ensuring shift coverage, and responding to changing scheduling requirements.

Whether your company needs to keep people working to avoid furloughs, or you are facing an increase in labor demand due to heightened production requirements, workforce scheduling technology can enable operations agility through better visibility into both the work schedule and the workforce. It allows you to quickly identify open shifts and fill them with available workers – including repurposing people into new roles. This flexible approach presents businesses with a win-win situation where employees are still able to provide for their families, and business is not at a standstill. Operations can continue to run smoothly, even if that looks different than before.

How your organization navigates the crisis will have a direct impact on how it operates after the turmoil subsides. Whether you need help with shift coverage despite call-outs, leveraging your flex pool amid increased demand, or assessing worker readiness, we can help. Our workforce scheduling technologies were purpose-built to tackle the challenge of managing change, whenever it blows your way.