Managing an hourly workforce comes with a lot of unique challenges, but few can be as complicated or frustrating as scheduling. As many businesses extend their hours and expand their workforces to meet industry demands, scheduling has become a significant hurtle for many- one that profoundly impacts sales, productivity, and company morale.
With the average manager spending a minimum of 3.14 hours a week creating timetables- plans that often feel obsolete when employees don’t show up- managers and employees are desperate for a better way to schedule shifts and identify replacements when fill-ins are necessary. Shift swapping and bidding offer an optimized solution.
Scheduling Challenges for the Hourly Workforce
Constantly-changing schedules, tight margins, no-shows, and turnover gaps in talent are difficult and costly realities for the hourly, distributed workforce. Managing multiple schedules, including evening, night, overnight, split, rotating, or on-call shifts for multiple locations requires a lot of time and an extreme attention to detail. Compliance hoops and violation fees are operational hazards that target businesses like yours directly. You’ve got to have the edge on them.
By giving employees influence over when they work, you create realistic expectations and accountability for navigating these issues. Flexibility allows for schedule changes which support and maintain margins effectively, especially when it comes to short notice hiccups. Family obligations, second jobs, classes, and various types of accidents and emergencies rarely happen conveniently, so it helps to accommodate the inconsistencies with proactive and preventative solutions.
What Is Swapping and Bidding?
Swapping allows employees to have direct influence over their schedules. It allows them to post shifts for trade while still allowing them to make up with hours they weren't originally assigned to. Swapping is especially beneficial because it hold employees, not employers, accountable for making sure shifts are filled.
Bidding occurs when an employee actually selects an available shift in the hopes of working those hours in which they weren’t originally assigned. It is up to the employer to choose between candidates, but automation has greatly improved this process. Now, with the right technology, bidding rules can be checked automatically, so you know who is the most qualified, the closest to the worksite, who is ahead or behind on hours, and whether or not you and your employees are scheduling compliantly and fairly.
The Benefits of Swapping and Bidding
Swapping lowers scheduling time, maintains budget margins, and supports high customer demands. More importantly? It increases employee involvement and protects the needs of your workforce. Swapping ensures that scheduled employees want to be working and will therefore show up for their shifts more readily. Here are some other benefits of swapping/bidding:
- Employees feel in control of their schedules, so there’s minimal intervention needed by management. It allows your workforce to meet their needed hours without unnecessary sacrifices or stress. This further reduces absenteeism.
- It relieves management of significant scheduling burdens, both monetarily and in timeliness.
- Helps achieve stress-free compliance and improve employee performance and collaboration.
- It’s simple, transparent, and fair because all members of your workforce are able to view schedules, open opportunities, and bids as well.
Compliance with Swapping and Bidding Policies
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), at least 17% of the U.S. workforce is operating under irregular work shifts. That means 38.5 million hourly workers don’t have access to even the most basic flexibility policies including paid sick leave, caretaker flexibility, or medical and family emergency protection. If you’re planning on implementing a swapping and bidding policy for your business, here are some worthy inclusions to consider:
- Limit who can swap with who. Require managerial approval.
- Arrival mishap policies for when someone shows up but isn’t needed.
- Include sensible limits and deadlines. This could include how many hours people can take on or how many days in a row- especially if it is a safety hazard for the employee.
- Establish consequences and accountability. Ex: Swapping shouldn’t be a replacement for PTO.
- Check up on your state and federal compliance laws. Many states have their own mandates requiring additional pay, leave, etc. for a variety of specific circumstances.
Swapping and bidding can be done with automating software as well as manually. Either way, having an established policy will strengthen your defense against compliance errors and internal issues stemming from scheduling mistakes.
The EPAY Way
Swapping allows employees to view schedules, post shifts for trade, and submit or view request statuses all in one place. EPAY’s flexible Time and Labor Management solution offers a variety of customizations to make sure your business gets exactly what it needs with as little headache as possible. Our bidding and swapping options allow employees to bid on open shifts, post assigned shifts for other employees to bid on, and ultimately swap with coworkers with the approval of a manager. Interested in hearing more? Request a demo today.