There are many different situations which occur in the business world which call for attention to the problems of scheduling employees to do a variety of tasks. Prior to the introduction of computers, along with sophisticated software for employee scheduling, the tasks of deciding which employee should be assigned to which task at which particular time had to be done manually. This could often be a very time-consuming and difficult task.
Problems of assignment of employees to tasks arise in a variety of situations, which need to be solved. We present below a list of some of the different types of situations which call for scheduling of employees where software can be successfully employed. We also discuss the types of employee scheduling software that might be appropriate for the task at hand.
Scheduling employees for shifts at a factory, or any business or non-profit enterprise which needs to be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week – for example, ambulance services, certain telephone switchboards, etc. Here, the software needs to take account of a number of different parameters or constraints, including:
• The length of the
• The number of shifts per day
• Staffing levels per shift – some shifts may require more employees. For example, a restaurant will require more employees for a busy evening shift than for the lunch shift.
• Employee availability: The employee scheduling software needs to have the ability to record the availability and preferences of the employees for various shifts and/or days of the week. Employee A may be available for morning shifts on weekdays and the evening shift on Saturday night, for example.
• Maximum employee hours and relevant labor laws for the geographical area where the enterprise is located. In the United States and United Kingdom, employees must generally be paid at a higher rate once they are “in overtime” – that is, once they have worked more than the maximum legally mandated hours for the week. Good software for employee scheduling should take this into account and attempt to assist to assign work first to those employees who have not reached the specified overtime hours for the week. This helps the business owner save money by paying the normal hourly rate for as many working hours of the week as possible.
maid service businesses
home health care businesses
pest control businesses
In general, in these cases, a business needs to service a variety of customers at regular intervals, and needs to decide which employees to assign to perform the service for each customer. This situation can be conceived of by the service business owner in two different ways:
1) You have a number of jobs to perform, and you need to find the employees to perform those jobs (The customer-driven approach)
2) You have a certain number of employees who are on the payroll, and the task of the business owner is to find the jobs for them to perform. (The employee-driven approach)
In these cases we can look at various service business software offerings which function also as employee scheduling software, or crew scheduling software, etc.
The Scheduling Manager is a well-known scheduling software offering which performs all these functions (and more!) admirably!
In this situation, the scheduler must take several factors into account. She may decide that certain employees are to be rewarded with better shifts, when they can expect to earn better tips, and certain others will be assigned to less desirable shifts. Of course, if some employees never get rewarded with the more desirable shifts, they may feel neglected and perhaps look for work elsewhere.
The employee scheduling software used in this case should have appropriate capabilities, which make it as easy as possible for a user to access a screen (or screens) where they can quickly adjust the current schedules. Also, the software should have the capability of providing information to the scheduler concerning each employee’s availability schedule, his/her shift preferences, pay rate, skills, etc.
When there are only one or two employees who need to be scheduled, and perhaps not very many jobs which need to be performed, the task of scheduling the employees is relatively trivial, and can be done simply. But as soon as things get more complicated, the problem becomes many times more complex. Some simple calculations will illustrate this:
Supposing you have 10 employees, and each employee can service three jobs a day for a particular service business. This means that you can service 150 jobs per 5-day week (10 x 3 x 5). However, there are many factors to take into account when creating the work schedules for the employees. These include:
1) Certain clients have needs which can be met only by certain employees who have certain specified skills. For example, only some employees in a particular cleaning company have the skills necessary to clean expensive Persian carpets. Or, only certain employees have skills required to give injections to clients of a home health care business. Other factors which are common to consider:
Ability to drive a car (Home health/handyman/etc.)
• Ability to do CPR (Home maker or Home health care worker)
• Cooking ability (Home maker)
• Licenses to give injections (Home health caregiver)
• Licensed to carry a gun (security industry)
A good employee scheduling software program will have the capability to do this – that is, record the skills each employee has. The more the scheduler knows about each employee and his/her capabilities, the better. This can help the user of the scheduling software immensely in performance of his/her employee scheduling duties.
2) The scheduler can only assign an employee to a particular job who has a particular certification to perform that work. This is common in the home health care industry.
3) The client may need to have an employee who speaks a certain language. This is fairly common in many large cosmopolitan US cities – New York, Chicago, San Francisco, to name a few.
4) Clients sometimes express preferences – for example, the client says she does not want a certain employee in her house. Or the client may insist that a particular employee should always perform the service for which she’s paying.
5) Clients may have preferences concerning the time of day they want their service scheduled. One client may insist that their work be done at 9 am every day, while another may state that she doesn’t mind what time the work is done, as long as it’s after 1 PM.
6) The person scheduling the employees must also take into account the routing of the jobs. You don’t want to send an employee to her first job in one part of town, and then to another job on the other side of town, and then back gain to the first area later in the day. Employees should be scheduled in such a way as to minimize travel time between jobs. (Some employee scheduling software programs have facilities which aid in these tasks – such as interfaces with Mappoint, Mapquest, Google Maps, Hopstop, etc.)
7) It is of great importance in many service businesses that employees should be scheduled in such a way that the business pays the minimal amount in overtime pay for the day and for the week. At the same time, it is of critical importance in many such businesses that employees be given as much work as they want. So this can become a difficult balancing act – provide the employee with the hours she wants for the week, while not overbooking the employee, which runs up overtime costs, and cuts into profits.
Take a look at an excellent example of home health software which will accomplish all the scheduling tasks noted above, and more!
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