How Major Brands Are Using Mobile Apps to Transform Employee Scheduling

Retail scheduling is notorious for its unpredictability. At many stores, employees work different shifts every week, often with just a few days’ notice. This system makes it difficult to arrange child care, classes, and other responsibilities for the upcoming work week, and fluctuating hours make it difficult for employees to budget.

But with modern tools, it doesn’t have to be this way. Companies are working on new ways to give employees more control over their schedule—and everyone is reaping the benefits.

Harvard Business Review and Gap, Inc. recently teamed up to try out a more stable scheduling system. Twenty-eight stores in the San Francisco and Chicago areas tested a new system that included:

  • No on-call shifts
  • 14-day advance notice of schedules for employees
  • Managers encouraged to offer a “core schedule” with stable start and end times

A full report on the experiment is forthcoming, but early results are promising on the employee side. During the 30-week experiment:

  • Nearly two-thirds of part-time employees posted or picked up a shift 
  • Over 90% of workers surveyed agreed that the app made it easy to adjust work schedules to fit their needs.
  • Over 95% of workers surveyed said the system helped them get more hours when they wanted more work.

Employees weren’t the only ones who saw the benefits of stable scheduling. Managers said using the app eliminated the need to make time-consuming phone calls to cover a shift, and the manager of a medium-sized store estimated the system saved about 10 hours/week. Some managers also saw a decrease in no-shows because employees were easily able to find a replacement.

While there are still a few kinks to work out—like integrating scheduling software with other HR systems and making sure all employees are trained to pick up certain shifts—managers agreed that employees were happier when they could control their own schedule.

Employee empowerment and stable scheduling systems continues to gain steam around the country. Since 2015, stable scheduling legislation has passed in Oregon, as well as four major cities, and the trend continues. More than a dozen national retailers have stopped scheduling on-call shifts or have committed to do so in the near future. As companies transform their scheduling practices to accommodate employee needs, choosing the right mobile workforce management system becomes a key part of the conversation.

Read the full article to learn more about the results of the Gap experiment with Harvard Business Review.

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