Today, business efficiency is all about streamlining operations and improving customer satisfaction while reducing overhead. To meet these demands, companies are turning to tech solutions that transition their business operations to the digital world. One form of technology that has recently increased in popularity is the schedule builder.
What is a schedule builder?
A schedule builder uses digital resources to identify and develop schedules for a business. Traditionally, employers have relied on manual scheduling, requiring managers to review individual shifts and employee schedules to determine who can work.
By contrast, automated schedule builders allow employers to streamline these tasks. Managers can enter the shifts that need to be covered and analyze employee schedules online to create a master schedule that is accessible to everyone. Some software applications include additional features that address the following business needs:
- Staff management: employee database, roster, and staff availability; employer cross-referencing and location availability
- Scheduling: schedule comparison, skills-based scheduling, available shifts, adding or copying schedules, notification of scheduling conflicts, auto-scheduler, drag-and-drop interface, and calendar views
- Shift management: shift replacement and one-click staff confirmation
- Tracking: overtime and project time tracking, time and attendance tracking, vacation and leave tracking; time-off requests
- Employee self-services: shift swap and trade, clock-out reminders, and tracking of work hours
- Business reports: labor costs, employee reporting, and time-off summary
What are the benefits of using a schedule builder?
Research shows that many industries face challenges when it comes to scheduling. For example, restaurant managers spend an average of 3.14 hours per week on manual scheduling, which leads to a 174% increase in turnover and 140 hours of lost work time per year. Today, businesses use online schedule builders to reduce such losses. Here are some of the benefits companies can enjoy by switching to a scheduling tool:
- Less Lost Time and Money
First and foremost, companies can reduce potential losses by improving scheduling procedures. By using an automated system for online scheduling and creating a streamlined process for both managers and employees, companies in all industries can reduce the time and money spent on related tasks.
Furthermore, specific schedule builders offer push notifications based on an employee’s recorded work hours. As an employee approaches over time, the software will remind the supervisor or manager to create an action plan that allows the employee to leave before reaching that limit. In industries where labor costs are the most significant expense, reducing employee overtime is critical.
- Fewer Errors in Scheduling
In addition, schedule builders can save employers the stress of dealing with scheduling conflicts, one of the most significant points of contention in managing staff. Working with employees’ schedules and ensuring all shifts are covered is like solving a puzzle – and the larger the operation, the more difficult it can be.
Schedule builders can help overcome this challenge by opening the lines of communication between managers and employees. The right system can include everything a manager needs to ensure no errors in the scheduling process. For example, an employer can use such software not only to create a schedule but also factor in time-off requests and peak hours of operation to ensure optimal scheduling.
- Integration with Other Calendars
Equally impressive is the ability of a schedule builder to integrate directly with a user’s calendar. This allows employees to upload their schedules to the calendar of their choice automatically. By streamlining this task, managers no longer run the risk of employees forgetting to add their work schedule to their calendar, thereby reducing the number of missed shifts.
Not only does this benefit business operators, but it can also help employees. In a recent study titled “The Economic Impact of Missing a Single Shift,” researchers analyzed data collected from more than 1,000 U.S.-based hourly employees and employers across the retail, hospitality, logistics, healthcare, and banking industries. The purpose was to examine the economic impact of missing a work shift – and the results were astounding.
Missing just one shift can result in an employee being unable to pay utilities on time (49% of respondents), missing rent (27% of respondents), and foregoing groceries for a week (25% of respondents). The stress incurred by such economic hardships can also negatively impact an employee’s performance. Thus, reducing the risk of missed shifts can have a domino effect on both the business and its staff.
- Remote Access for Employees and Customers
Another reason businesses should consider switching to an automatic schedule builder is to increase accessibility – for both employees and customers. Current research shows that 60% of employees use mobile phones for work-related tasks, including reviewing and modifying their work schedules. When schedules are conducted the old-fashioned way – written out and then shared among staff – managing can be difficult.
Manual scheduling limits accessibility and creates challenges when conflicts arise. When employees can remotely access their schedules, they know immediately if they need to make a switch, and they have direct access to other employees who could cover their shift. For business owners, this feature helps to reduce the number of excuses an employee can use when they encounter a scheduling problem.
- Online Booking
Likewise, business owners can utilize a schedule builder in combination with online booking to automatically increase staff according to the number of reservations received. Online booking applications such as Ombori Grid Appointment Booking allow customers to make an appointment anywhere, anytime. The simplicity of making a new appointment or managing changes to an existing one through a mobile device can help to improve the overall retail experience. If customers need to cancel an appointment, they can use their device, which reduces the number of missed appointments.
By customizing their scheduling software to recruit more staff as the number of reservations increases and allowing customers to modify plans as necessary, business operators can ensure they do not lose revenue due to understaffing.
- Task Assignments
A less apparent but equally beneficial reason for using a schedule builder is to assign tasks to employees. Some managers need to delegate specific tasks to staff during their shifts – not all jobs are the same. Schedule builders can help supervisors identify which tasks to assign to an employee. When staff members are given multiple tasks to complete, they can prioritize them according to importance. For example, tasks can be categorized as follows:
- Tasks that are important and urgent need to be completed first.
- Tasks that are important but not urgent should be tackled next.
- Tasks that are not important but urgent are placed in a separate category.
- Tasks that are neither important nor urgent are relegated to the last, least critical, category.
This is just an example of what a schedule builder can do for businesses and employees. By giving staff guidance in completing their tasks, managers can ensure the most important jobs are completed first.
- Analytics for Optimizing Schedules
In addition, schedule builders can help business owners achieve maximum scheduling efficiency by working in tandem with analytic software.
For example, several businesses use Ombori Grid Occupancy Control to help calculate the number of potential visitors to a specific location. This application offers “accurate real-time and historical data on occupancy” that allows business owners to understand “who is coming to [the] premises and when.” Ombori Grid solution allows managers to “adjust [their] business practices to predict and respond to peak and trough demands.”
By understanding when traffic is expected to be busiest, managers can allocate staff appropriately. Not only does this ensure proper coverage, but it also helps to improve customer satisfaction. For example, scheduling the appropriate number of staff can help reduce lines in retail stores and limit customer frustration with long wait times – and improved customer satisfaction can result in higher revenue.
How can you leverage schedule building in your industry?
So which schedule builder is right for you, and how can you start leveraging its features to improve your business operations? nTask, the creator of a powerful online project management tool, has researched the top ten schedule makers for boosting productivity. They include nTask, Calendly, Schedule Builder, Google Sheets, Shiftly, Appoint.ly, Google Keep, HubSpot Meetings, Doodle, and Excel. Each option has its pros and cons, and before proceeding with a specific option, you should conduct due diligence to determine which platform is best suited for your needs.
Additionally, you should determine how you can integrate the scheduling software with your existing technology. So, if you are already using a solution like Ombori Grid Occupancy Control, you can know if the two applications work together to streamline your business operations further. Even if you are not currently using digital software, you can still benefit from investing in a schedule builder. Indeed, you can manage and optimize your entire workforce, keep everyone on task, and stay organized with just one suite of tools. There is no need for multiple applications that might not work well together if you invest in the right schedule builder.