In retail, restaurant and healthcare industries, overtime hours are a workforce inevitability. When managed correctly, they benefit your bottom line and employees feel appreciated for their above-and-beyond contributions – not to mention the additional dollars in their paychecks!
When mismanaged, however, overtime work can hurt profits and turn off employees who see the extra hours as a burden.
Businesses affected by periodic ebb-and-flow can stay a step ahead when they leverage schedule management resources like TrackSmart Scheduling and when they communicate with employees about expectations and availability.
Connect with employees and clearly communicate your overtime policy
Employees are more likely to buy in to overtime when they understand it’s a necessity for the business. After all, when a company operates smoothly, employees benefit, too. And when employees believe their added efforts make a difference, they will be quicker to invest the time and energy.
Follow these tips to help you set parameters around overtime rules and boost employee commitment:
- Create a mandatory overtime policy. Chances are you already know when overtime is needed — whether it’s a specific time of the day, week or month; a seasonal requirement; or due to sporadic events that demand staffing-up for short bursts. Explain these cycles in writing so employees understand when extra hours may be required. In addition, make a point to communicate as early as possible whenever overtime is needed. Instead of dictating overtime, encourage open dialogue between managers and staff so everyone is aware of both need and availability.
- Value employee personal and family commitments. You want employees to know about required overtime, but also that you value their personal and family lives. Not all employees want to work regular overtime, while others will welcome any opportunity to earn additional money. Invest time up front with your employees to learn their unique family situations and responsibilities. This will help you understand not just who is available based on remaining hours, but also who is truly available to work a specific cycle.
- Don’t assume employees are available when you need them. Just because you have a few go-to staffers who love overtime hours doesn’t mean their circumstances won’t change over time. For example, you’re likely to schedule your most productive shift workers when you have an unexpected busy cycle — but what if you schedule a go-to staffer when they have family in town? Don’t assume they’ll always be there just because they’ve been there before. Regular communication about what’s happening in their lives outside the workplace will help reduce misunderstandings.
- Focus on employee wellness to avoid the overtime spiral. Excessive overtime can impact employee health. Working several doubles in a row can leave employees mentally and physically exhausted. Fatigued employees run a higher risk of on-the-job injuries or absenteeism due to illness and general underperformance. Last-minute illness or desire for a mental health day could force unexpected overtime with other staffers, which could initiate an ongoing cycle of unplanned overtime at work.
- Cross-train to expand your overtime bullpen. You have more scheduling flexibility when employees can handle multiple responsibilities. Cross-training helps prevent employees from working shifts longer than they are used to (8s pushing to 12s or 12s pushing to 14s) or being asked to handle tasks in which they are not familiar. Cross-training boosts productivity and morale, while reducing the need for undue stress for both manager and employee.
Leverage scheduling tools for greater cost control
Fortunately, there are high-tech resources that complement your high-touch efforts — and when you combine them, you will manage costs and overtime expectations much more efficiently.
An online software resource like TrackSmart Scheduling provides a variety of features to assist you and your staff with overtime management. Employees have the ability to log in from anywhere and check schedules, request time off and even swap shifts — without having to constantly check with a manager.
Managers can easily set recurring schedules and automatically shift assignments. Through the TrackSmart Scheduling app, you can clearly monitor hours; set daily, weekly, or monthly hour caps; and, most importantly, monitor overtime and labor costs per employee — all at a glance.
And because proper communication is an important part of overtime management, you can also take advantage of features like sending emails to an individual or group, issuing text messages directly from the app to a particular employee, and posting reminders and announcements on a message board.
Make sure to include training for employees on how to use the app so they understand how valuable it is to them. It’s also a good idea to let them know how TrackSmart benefits managers so employees understand the business decisions you make when considering hours, costs and employee well-being.