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Does Computerized Employee Scheduling Ignore the Human Aspect while Maximizing Corporate Productivity?

October 1st, 2008 · No Comments

If you have read any of my postings, you know that I am all in favor of productivity.  It helps you individually to get a better handle on your life, and it helps businesses grow.  However there comes a point when looking solely at productivity may be a negative in terms of both business growth and personal fulfillment.

Situation:  Wal Mart made headlines in 2007 when it began to change its weekly schedule for employees so that worker hours actually reflected the peaks and valleys of customer hours.  It certainly seemed to be a positive move for the company in that it increased the staff available when the most customers were in the store.  Yet it had a tendency to wreak havoc with employees, who were moved to later shifts, weekends shifts, or even split shifts.  Their hours didn’t coincide with family obligations, and the computer would not account for that.

Question:  Is it productive for a company when the workers are unhappy with the arrangement even though it makes sense from a numbers perspective?  How motivated will employees be to add to the success of the business?

Situation:  Another recent incident I became aware of again involved scheduling for maximum productivity in a clothing store.  This time the prime hours were given to those who had the highest commissions, as reflected by number of sales.  In this specific situation, it was both the employee and her customers who lost.  Over the years, this part-time employee had developed a loyal following.  She gave the customers special attention, knew their habits, and never rushed them.  While she didn’t push the numbers, she built a solid customer base.  Yet because she was part-time, her commissions would not equal a full-time person.  When schedules were developed in the computerized version, her hours were cut and she was moved to times that conflicted with other obligations.

Question:  If you cut an employee’s hours, telling them they have to increase commissions to get their needed schedule back, how can that happen?  If they are not able to keep the assigned hours because they had no input into what would work in their lives, the available hours become even less, as does their pay.  It becomes impossible for that employee to stay with the company, and the goodwill developed with customers is lost.

There is no question that computers can analyze quicker than we can and see more than we can.  However we have to be careful that there is still room for the human element in factoring productivity.

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Tags: Work Hours