How technology is redefining the relationship between businesses and employees

John Coldicutt, chief commercial officer of Planday on how a more flexible solution to shift work can help boost staff retention.

The gig economy is booming, but attracting and retaining staff remains a key challenge for shift-based businesses.

In the modern workplace, flexibility is crucial to business success. Businesses like gyms, care homes and restaurants depend on finding reliable staff quickly, and retaining those workers.

But in an economy with 1 billion shift workers, where staff turnover is as high as 73 per cent, businesses and employees face a formidable, and costly challenge.

Why does high turnover in shift based businesses occur? And what can be done?

The problem with scheduling

Gyms, care homes and restaurants are the lifeblood of the gig economy. We need these businesses to do well and to operate efficiently. But they also tend to be fast-paced businesses, which require careful staff scheduling, reliability and flexibility.

In care homes, for example, communications must be impeccable. Systems need regular updating. Important documents can’t be accidentally shredded, and when workers can’t make a shift, managers need to know immediately so they can cover it.

Ironically, it’s this essential infrastructure that is part of the problem. Because for staff with little time, creating work schedules in advance can be distracting.

More importantly, rigid shifts and outdated communications systems can leave these workers feeling disconnected, unhappy and ultimately moving on.

Together, businesses and workers have a problem

For employers, the impact of losing these staff can be hard to bare. High staff turnover results in less time that could be spent servicing customers, increased costs and ultimately lost revenue. Inevitably, finding and hiring the right staff becomes burdensome, not to mention the execution of scheduling and managing staff rotas, which is often time-consuming.

Indeed, the average restaurant, hotel, or office manager dedicates twenty per cent of their time to checking such records as the accuracy of pay. That’s valuable time that could be otherwise filled by growing the business.  

Furthermore, paper-based systems for recording sick days, holiday and working hours can be difficult to maintain with accuracy, leading to mistakes with pay, and failure to comply with working time regulations.

See more: Optimising the gig economy for payroll

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Engagement through intelligent scheduling

It’s clear that outdated scheduling solutions are costly for businesses and workers and damaging to their morale. Therefore better informed, faster decisions are needed to optimise earnings and personal time. And better tools are needed to help improve real-time contextual collaboration between employers and managers.

Recognising as much is vital if we care about the future of the gig economy. According to the Gallup Employee Engagement Insights Report, organisations with 93 per cent of their employees who are highly engaged experience 147 per cent higher earnings. These businesses are also 22 per cent more profitable than those with employees who are disengaged, and they experience 37 per cent less absenteeism.

It’s reassuring therefore, that with its ability to connect employees and managers, in real time, cloud-based technology is unlocking the potential of shift-based businesses, freeing up time and budget whilst engaging and inspiring employees. This technology offers a one-stop solution for shift management, pay, staff traceability and reporting, giving hard-working shift staff have a greater sense of control over their lives.

For example, rather than trying to figure out how best to fill gaps in work schedule manually, these tasks can now be executed via apps, online and in real-time. At the beginning of a shift, punch clock features allow workers to check-in quickly through a mobile app. They can see on their phones which hours they have been allocated, who else is working as well as set their availability, swap shifts and bid on any open shifts as they want to.

The result is that staff feel more empowered, more engaged. ‘People can feel like they are actually part of the bigger picture instead of waiting for a manager to tell them what’s happening,’ says José Pizarro, who runs a restaurant chain in London.

As a result, more and more businesses are moving away from “top-down”, inflexible systems, and replacing them with mobile solutions which leave staff happier and more likely to perform to their full potential.

Providing employers and workers with peace of mind

It’s an intuitive truth that organisations that truly engage and inspire their employees produce outstanding levels of innovation, productivity and performance, while those who don’t expose themselves to unnecessary risk.

Scheduling is only part of the solution to safeguarding the future of the gig economy.

However, the evidence is persuasive that by moving to cloud-based workforce collaboration platforms, businesses as varied as care homes, restaurants and gyms can achieve higher profits, communicate better and keep their employees happier for longer.

Find out more: Planday

Further reading on staff retention

How to keep your staff motivated over the summer months

Michael Somerville

Michael Somerville

Michael was senior reporter for from 2018 to 2019.

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