How Stable Scheduling Can Help Productivity Go Up

Effective Calendar Scheduling can improve your productivity
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Part-time and full-time workers in a number of different industries are often expected to work on a flexible schedule.

In a 2016 representative survey of US residents, 80 percent of hourly workers reported week-to-week fluctuations in the number of hours they worked, with the fluctuations averaging 38 percent of their usual weekly hours. Employers, not employees, were responsible for the majority of the variation in the number of hours worked. The fact that schedules are not only inconsistent but also unpredictable adds to the problem. A full 40% of these hourly workers reported knowing their schedule a week or less in advance, with more than a quarter (28%) reporting three days or less notice.

Stable Schedules Are Very Important

Unstable schedules make planning difficult for everyone, but especially for adults who have caregiving responsibilities, students who cannot afford to miss classes or study time, and those who work multiple jobs. State attorney general offices, state and municipal governments, and the media have all been critical of these scheduling practices. But there are many more reasons why businesses should prioritize having stable schedules. Here are the findings of a randomized controlled experiment at Gap, in which a shift of retail associates to more stable schedules was made to study the business results. 

More stable scheduling increased labor productivity.

Stable scheduling significantly increased labor productivity by 5%. Treatment stores generated an additional $6.20 of revenue per hour of labor than did control stores.

There is more…

  • Stable scheduling sharply increased median sales by 7%. 
  • Return on investment was high. 
  • Consistency, predictability, and worker input increased. 
  • Employees were generally enthusiastic about the shift to more stable scheduling.

How Exactly Does Effective Scheduling Help Productivity Go Up?

It Allows For Better Time Management

Perhaps the most obvious benefit that an effective scheduling process yields is better time management, for employees and managers alike. With effective schedules in place, people make better use of their time because they aren’t plagued by the constant worry of not knowing what to do.

Improved Planning Capability

The ability to plan is a crucial skill for success on both a professional and personal level. Employees are better able to prioritize vital on-the-job responsibilities and hence operate more productively when they have the option to look forward to their scheduled workweek. Similarly, managers who have a strong grip on when and where each person is working can establish and execute project timetables that are tailored to the demands of the company. Furthermore, with a clear timetable in hand, both employees and managers will experience a better work-life balance.

Improved Communication Among Employees

It’s easy for miscommunication to arise between managers and employees, for a number of reasons. This is particularly true when it comes to scheduling, especially if the majority of employees work rotating or changeable shifts. It’s all too possible for an employee to miss a shift due to a last-minute scheduling change or misunderstand when he or she is meant to come into work. These regrettable communication gaps might result in a significant amount of loss in productivity. Many of these communication issues can be solved with the help of a clear and readily accessible scheduling system.

Enhanced Resource Management

Effective scheduling does more than just manage time; it also allows managers to distribute resources more efficiently. Payroll expenditures, notably payroll costs associated with overtime, are one of the most common examples of this principle in operation.

Ways To Implement Stable Schedules

Provide Schedule Stability Whenever It Is Possible

According to research, successful scheduling begins with establishing and maintaining expectations about when employees work. One practical strategy to provide workers with the steadiness they desire is to offer them advance notice of their schedule. Another approach is to reduce on-call shifts, which require employees to be available to work only if contacted by their employer.

Furthermore, only one out of every five employees said they worked a typical daytime schedule. According to research, schedule inconsistency is linked to poor sleep quality, psychological suffering, and a lower level of happiness. Thus, posting a worker’s schedule as early as possible is a practical way to reduce those undesirable effects and improve the chances of better worker productivity.

Create A Team-wide Communication System

Every business must communicate effectively. But in the restaurant and retail industries, it can mean the difference between having enough employees to cover a shift and being short-staffed. Having a team-wide communication system in place makes it simple for you and your staff to know where to look for your work schedule. You won’t have to sift through emails, instant messages, or texting applications to find the most up-to-date work schedule or that time-off request you require. Because everyone is using the same tool, they are all on the same page.

If you haven’t already, set up this team-wide communication method right away. With most people using smartphones these days, your best bet is to choose a method that makes use of this omnipresent technology. Texting is one such method. Instant messaging is another.

The company can devise a system for workers to communicate shift changes amongst themselves. If a worker feels he or she has no choice after being booked for a shift that conflicts with their schedule, productivity may suffer. Having a shift-swapping strategy in place decreases the number of times supervisors are under pressure if employees don’t show up. It also gives employees the impression that they have some influence if they are requested to work an inconvenient shift.

Get The Schedule Out As Soon As Possible

Employees are always concerned when a new work schedule is announced. Most people will immediately turn to their personal calendars to begin arranging their personal life and determining whether or not there are any serious conflicts. Your workers will require that time to adjust. 

Furthermore, you must allow sufficient time for those disputes, as well as the changes they bring, to be resolved. That is why it is critical to release the timetable as soon as feasible.

Understand Your Team

Getting to know your coworkers is likely the most fundamental aspect of constructing a work plan. It’s so basic, in fact, that you might be asking why we ever brought it up. We bring it up because many managers do a poor job of genuinely getting to know their people. Some people even skip this step entirely. They just care about ensuring that there are enough workers to cover each shift. 

So, why is it so vital to know your teammates? Because it allows you to make decisions that benefit the business rather than merely getting enough servers for the lunch rush, it helps you to make more strategic decisions. Knowing about the personal problems that your employees experience on a daily basis can help you to empathize with them and make more humane decisions.

Consider Implementing A Four-day Workweek

People who are in charge of scheduling could consider initiating a trial where people only work four days a week but are paid for five — assuming their workplaces allow it. Perpetual Guardian, a corporate trustee company based in New Zealand, did just that and saw significant results.

Despite the reduced week, team members, for example, maintained their work performance levels. They also reported feeling less stressed and more engaged, as well as having a better work-life balance as a result of the new schedule.

It may seem contradictory to shorten the workweek without lowering wages. This schedule is obviously not realistic for every type of workplace. If you decide it’s worth a shot, be patient and understand that it may take a week or two for everyone to adjust to the new schedule.

Get Feedback — Especially After Putting Something New In Place

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to effective scheduling. The techniques used vary depending on factors such as the size and type of company, as well as the number of employees and how your business requirements change due to factors such as seasons. Regardless of how you schedule employees, take the time to solicit their feedback, especially after introducing a new approach. Showing employees that you hear and value their opinions can go a long way toward increasing productivity.


Stable scheduling increases productivity. It is on managers to improve schedule stability. Today’s competitive retail environment demands it. And not only that it is also the more humane thing to do.

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