As any manager reliant on hourly workers knows, the schedule is the lifeblood of the organization.  Managers must be able to look at demand and put together a plan to ensure that the right employees with the right skills, certifications, and availability are scheduled at any given time.  And they must do so in a way that is compliant with government rules, union regulations and company policies.

Scheduling is both an art and a science. It requires finding the right mix of skills, team chemistry and labor costs to meet customer needs and business objectives in the most efficient manner.  It is also a process that can take up significant time from managers seeking that perfect balance.  It’s not surprising that organizations look to automated tools to help them manage this process, as organizations that automate scheduling not only reduce the time required to create schedules, but also reduce the labor costs by helping to eliminate unplanned overtime, improve revenue by ensuring the right people are in the right place at the right time, and reduce organizational risk by improving compliance.

This research brief is based on data collected between May and June 2013. It looks at the trends influencing workforce scheduling today and how scheduling interacts with other critical workforce management systems to achieve business results, including payroll, time and attendance and absence management.

Key findings include:

  • Organizations automating scheduling saw 5% greater workforce capacity utilization and 24% higher engagement levels due to scheduling transparency over organizations without automated scheduling.
  • Organizations also saw a 4% YoY reduction in manual workforce management transactions compared to a 5% increase among organizations without automated scheduling.
  • 58% of organizations use automation to drive their scheduling process and use scheduling tools are part of an integrated workforce management suite.
    • 66% of organizations integrate time and attendance and scheduling.
    • Integration of workforce management and business performance data was the second most commonly cited workforce management strategy, selected by 45% of respondents.
  • Top four benefits of scheduling automation cited by respondents:
    • Reduction of time spent on workforce management activities by HR (39%)
    • Improved accuracy of workforce data (36%)
    • Reduction in time spend on workforce management activities by managers (36%)
    • Reduce overall labor cost (31%)
  • 62% of organizations provide employee self-service, while 61% of organizations provide manager self-service to workforce management data.
  • 45% of organizations struggle to develop an agile and flexible workforce and use data to make better decisions. 
  • While browsers continue to dominate as the most common method for self-service, tablet access is beginning to edge out even smartphones for critical scheduling self-service tasks.

Scheduling is at the heart of operational efficiency for organizations that depend on having the right people in the right place to execute their business strategy. Reducing the time it takes to create schedules, as well as building schedules that more accurately reflect demand and bring together the right mix of skills at the right cost, drive organizations to look to scheduling automation.  Combining automation with the ability to share data with employees and managers via self-service and integrate scheduling with other workforce management and business performance data and processes is a critical foundation for organizational performance and data-driven decision-making.