Ready or Not, Here it Comes: What Predictive Scheduling Means for Retail Managers
For anybody who has shopped in a brick-and-mortar store, the influence of in-store teams on the shopping experience is no secret. A great experience with a store associate can quickly catapult the brand to the top of a shopper’s favorites list, while a poor interaction or, even worse, the inability to find someone to help, can send them walking out the door empty-handed.
In-store team members are a brand’s lifeblood. However, ensuring you have the right number of team members in-store when you need them, as you need them, when in-store traffic fluctuates almost daily, is no easy task. Furthermore, with the introduction of predictive scheduling or “Fair Workweek” laws, aimed at giving employees more predictable schedules and income, the challenge is even greater. But ready or not, the laws are picking up steam across the U.S. For retailers, being prepared for the potential impact with a strategy for adapting to the change is more important than ever.
What Predictive Scheduling Means for Retailers
While the specific laws vary by market, common provisions of Fair Workweek legislation include requiring retailers to post employee schedules days — even weeks — in advance, offering predictable pay, premium pay for on-call hours, and even compensation for cancelled shifts. To date, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City have all enacted city-level laws. Last July, Oregon became the first state to pass predictive scheduling legislation, with an additional 13 states and four municipalities across the U.S. considering legislation in 2019 or 2020.
For employees, the change promises better work-life balance, thanks to more predictability and stability. For retailers, happier teams on the front lines should ultimately lead to improved customer experiences and better business. Yet, the legislation also adds a new layer of complexity when it comes to scheduling and managing teams, especially if you have stores in multiple markets where laws have been enacted or are being proposed. What’s more, there’s a lot on the line, with brands facing penalties and fines for lack of compliance or last-minute scheduling changes.
How to Prepare
With Fair Workweek legislation offering a wealth of benefits for employees, it’s likely to become a key decision factor for job seekers when weighing potential employment opportunities. Even in states where laws haven’t been passed or aren’t yet on the docket, you may consider — or face pressure to — voluntarily adopt predictive scheduling practices in an effort to better compete for talent. If you’re planning to make the leap, there are two key areas to focus on when preparing for the change:
- Predicting the unpredictable. For retailers, predicting staffing needs two weeks out can feel like an impossible task, with shopping volumes fluctuating drastically from day to day thanks to everything from holidays to promotions to the weather. While you've traditionally been able to rely heavily on on-call employees to address the challenge, predictive scheduling legislation is likely to make that approach cost prohibitive. The days of gut-feeling decision making are over; with these new rules in place, success will require the ability to make informed, data-driven staffing decisions. Now is the time to ensure your management team has access to accurate historical sales data to allow for better forecasting staffing needs based on anticipated demand — and to put better data collection practices in place to improve your forecasting capabilities going forward.
- Out with the old. Across the retail industry, brands are still relying on outdated tools for some of the most important planning and reporting elements in the business, including labor scheduling. From labor forecasting to compliance reporting, transitioning to flexible, web-based systems will be key to navigating these new laws, offering an easier way to manage and track employee schedules, and allowing for more efficient and transparent communications between managers and employees. With the ability to configure rules for each store location, improved tools can help brands automate highly manual and repetitive tasks as well as reduce errors to save both time and money.
Perhaps more than any other industry, retail will feel the impact of predictive scheduling laws. As you start to plan for one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year, with this year’s seasonal increases expected to top even more than the 700,000 short-term hires seen in 2018, ensuring you’re prepared to tackle these new policies will be one of the deciding factors of success in 2019 and beyond.
Mike Morini is CEO at WorkForce Software, a cloud-based workforce management solutions provider enabling enterprise and midsize organizations to digitize time and attendance processes, optimize employee scheduling, simplify absence management, and gain strategic business insights.
Mike Morini is CEO at WorkForce Software, a cloud-based workforce management solutions provider enabling enterprise and mid-size organizations to digitize time and attendance processes, optimize employee scheduling, simplify absence management, and gain strategic business insights.
Mike Morini’s approach to driving company growth is centered on employees, customers, and the broader community of partners and analysts. Mike is a 30-year software veteran experienced in growing and scaling enterprise software companies. With an extensive background building out global cloud-based platforms, he has helped shape and guide multiple fast-growth companies in the cloud arena. Before joining WorkForce Software, Mike was previously in CEO and COO positions at SAP, Aria Systems, OutlookSoft, InterWorld, and Verbind. Mike holds a BA from Colgate University.