Store-Level Workforce Scheduling and Management Across Staff, Tasks by Day and Week in the Customer-Connected Era

Today’s staff scheduling, dynamic multi-function planning scheduling, and task productivity are important in today’s retail store environment. Task dispatch, priority and integration within the day and across the week are crucial to matching customer needs and demands. Best practice is to plan, schedule, and automate the deployments of sales and support staff to match needs in a dynamic real-time retail sales and support environment.

Ecommerce impacts produce significant spikes during the holiday season and due to events such as Black Friday, it is important to be able flex your work force to adjust for volume and mix changes as well as balance labor costs over competing needs. 91% of the top performers trained workers across multiple roles (picking, shipping, value-added services), while only 60% of others can make this claim. This capability is valuable not only in a reactionary sense of responding to current daily and seasonal needs, but also as a forward-looking measure when process efficiency leads to lower staffing needs for a specific task. Employees who might otherwise have been let go can be reassigned to other functions without requiring the company to incur additional on-boarding costs.

Dynamic omni-channel and customer focused fulfillment is the marriage of real-time store execution, task management, compliance, time and attendance, and labor scheduling (including budgeting, forecasting, and employee self-service). LMS/WFM systems enable retailers to align store labor and activities to corporate goals and institutionalize best-practice responses to real-time metrics and alerts.

The Best-in-Class have done a better job of recognizing the value of data and knowledge as part of a labor management process. This is illustrated by the level of current capabilities among Best-in-Class companies as compared to all others regarding the availability of training materials and their application to ensure the proper training of new hires. The Best-in-Class are also doing a better job of defining individual roles and tracking historical productivity results:

  • Established definitions of required competencies for each job role (61% versus 56% of their peers)
  • Track individual coaching needs and history (35% versus 26% of their peers)

Establishing competency definitions provides clarity to both employees and management as to what is expected, and it sets the tone for what should be measured over time. Similarly, if the end-game of performance measurement is simply punitive, there is little hope for continuous improvement. Individualized coaching can be used to address not only inadequate performance, but also necessary preparations for future advancement. Keeping a record of what has been discussed and what goals have been set will help improve engagement by ensuring that promising employees do not slip through the cracks.

Beyond measurement of individual performance, incentives can be provided to keep workers engaged. The Best-in-Class appear to have realized a point of great importance: without proper motivation, worker performance will not realize the full benefit of efficient processes and upgraded technologies. This is particularly true at store level where work is less predictable or variable, and superior productively comes from measuring and managing peer/role specific individuals to aggregate performance. It is clear that top performers tend to drive superior overall performance and set the standard for labor productivity.

Training is one thing, but to really optimize direct and indirect labor performance, store managers also need to monitor and adjust workforce requirements across roles / tasks within a given workday. This requires process knowledge and cross training. At store-level, the Best-in-Class are 3-times as likely as Laggards to utilize established standards against which employees can be measured. A process of establishing standards and then monitoring actual performance is the foundation for workforce planning, balancing and flexibility. This illustrates the principle that flexibility and detailed process knowledge are tightly linked. You need to have standards and expectations of performance coupled with visibility to performance data to monitor, flex and direct your workers across multiple roles within the workday and to match staff levels to traffic patterns and workloads.

Additionally, employee ownership is critical to sustaining labor productivity with or without access to valuable performance data. The Best-in-Class are leading the way by empowering their employees through both formal on-boarding programs and implementing incentives tied to meeting performance goals. Best-in-Class performers are achieving practice levels on these two processes of 1.6- to 1.8-times higher than all others combined.

In a series of blogs that follows we will further discuss best practices and solutions for enterprise-wide labor and workforce management (LMS/WFM).

Don’t miss my previous posts in this series:

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