Automated employee scheduling can improve time-to-pay processes

Employee scheduling is important for the time-to-pay process. Although still often a manual process for many companies, if optimised by automating and integrating it with a time system, it can help you to identify exceptions prior to submitting reports for payroll processing. This situation reduces the number of errors and off-cycle checks that occur.

More than 80% of companies make field or local managers responsible for employee schedules. Many of these managers spend over 20% of their time each week on creating and maintaining them, especially if they have large, complex workforces. This is because most companies’ timekeeping system includes only basic scheduling functionality, enabling users to set up simple shift timings.

But over the next few years, a desire to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness is likely to result in a shift to more advanced software.

Integrated scheduling systems, for instance, can help organisations manage attendance, compliance and labour costs, while also ensuring they have the right resources in the right place at the right time. The addition of self-service features such as enabling employees to view their schedule online, bid on or trade shifts and submit their availability and preferences also helps to increases staff satisfaction.

What do automated scheduling systems do?

Basic scheduling applications enable users to set up fixed schedules and manually assign employees to staff them. These systems may also allow schedules to be carried over from week to week, which helps cut the time spent on creating them. But analysing how many employees are required per shift and who should be assigned to it still has to be undertaken manually.

On the other hand, more advanced applications provide tools that help managers determine the number of employees they require per shift based on demand and labour standards. They also make it possible to generate a recommended staffing plan based on a pre-defined set of rules. These rules may include legislative or union-related requirements, employee skills or licenses that are necessary to perform the job. They may also include individual employee preferences for particular working days and times.

“Over the next few years, a desire to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness is likely to result in a shift to more advanced software.”

What benefits do automated scheduling applications provide?

They cut labour costs and increase productivity:

Effective scheduling can reduce the amount of unplanned overtime that is required and lead to productivity increases. Creating schedules after working out demand based on historical or forecasting data helps ensure adequate coverage during both busy and slow periods. Managers also have more time to spend on their primary job rather than seeing it devoured on readjusting schedules, identifying available employees or determining who they should send home.

Reduce payroll errors:

If scheduling is integrated with time data, it enables managers to see exceptions based on a given employee’s assigned schedule and their actual start and stop times. Common exceptions include no-shows, early or late arrival or departure and employees working more or less than their assigned hours. By spotting exceptions early in the time-to-pay process, they can be either approved or dealt with accordingly, which reduces payroll errors later in the cycle.

Increase compliance:

The introduction of automated rules ensures that mandatory breaks and meal periods are included in all shift assignments and that employees do not work over designated hour thresholds either on a per day or pay period basis.

Improve employee satisfaction:

Because providing self-service functionality gives employees more control over their schedules, staff satisfaction often increases. Common functionality here includes enabling them to see their schedule in advance; being able to submit their availability for work and to request shift swaps with other staff. As a result, the level of unplanned absences and amounts of overtime required frequently falls.