How Retail Shift Planning Software Helps the Dynamic & Modern Retail Workforce

Both large and small retail organisations have complex scheduling needs. Week after week, a manager has to craft a balanced schedule combining skill sets and varying shifts - often allowing employees to work across different roles or multiple locations. This is typically a difficult, error-prone task that takes hours of time to achieve.
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: April 11, 2023
  • 8 Minuten
How Retail Shift Planning Software Helps the Dynamic & Modern Retail Workforce

How Retail Shift Planning Software Helps the Dynamic & Modern Retail Workforce

Managing employees and their schedules can be a time-consuming task, especially if your business is in the constantly changing retail sector. When you factor in the need for a rota that covers the business needs while also keeping staff happy, it’s easy to see how juggling shifts can cause a big scheduling headache.

All businesses need to have a disciplined and well-organized team for the business to thrive, but how do you go about ticking all of the important shift planning boxes and keeping everyone happy when each week presents the business with different challenges and different priorities?

In this guide, we will look at how retail businesses can create a shift schedule that works for everyone involved. We will also discuss how using a good retail shift planning software package can make the challenge far easier to manage.

Scheduling Mistakes Guide

What are the main difficulties of managing staff operations in retail?

As with all businesses, managing staff operations and ensuring that scheduling meets all the needs of the company and its staff is a difficult tightrope to balance on. But the retail sector has its own unique issues that managers will need to handle, including:

Legal issues

Retailers must adhere to the UK laws and regulations to not only avoid financial and legal consequences, but also poor employee sentiment. Retail businesses that ignore this often fall victim to negative press which can impact on how customers view the company as well as reducing the quantity and quality of hires going forward.

Unfair scheduling mistakes
Unfortunately, unfair scheduling is an easy mistake to make, and managers can often end up relying on the same few employees to fill empty shifts, resulting in suspected favouritism or illegal overtime.

This is where a good retail workforce management software. like the one we provide here at Papershift, can be of benefit. Built with compliance in mind, our system will automatically alert schedulers when there is a risk of breaching laws and will ensure shifts follow the rules set out by management. 

Multi-site, multi-shifts, and differing customer demands are difficult to manage effectively

Both large and small retail organisations have complex scheduling needs. Week after week, a manager has to craft a balanced schedule combining skill sets and varying shifts – often allowing employees to work across different roles or multiple locations. This is typically a difficult, error-prone task that takes hours of time to achieve.

What’s more is the challenge of predicting customer demand in a workplace that is constantly changing to ensure the team is large enough to achieve great service. Getting this wrong can be costly to a business and may lead to under or over staffing.

However, with the help of our scheduling solution, planning the right number of people with the right skills at the right time is no longer complicated and time consuming. Check it out elsewhere on our website. 

Unhappy retail staff lead to increased turnover rates

Retail workers are notoriously among the unhappiest workers in the UK. It’s therefore unsurprising that the industry experiences high turnover and absenteeism rates, costing stores thousands of pounds every year. 

When you factor in that many of those feel unhappy because of a poor work/life balance or the lack of flexibility in the shifts they work , it’s no surprise that good scheduling is vital in keeping staff happy and that stores that boast flexible scheduling tend to overcome challenges in talent retention and acquisition.

What does the law say about shift management in the retail space?

There are no specific rules or regulations specifically relating to the retail workplace. But there are many general laws that apply to all places of employment. And while many of them do not refer to shift management, their breadth and reach will affect how a business manages its staff operations.

  1. First, if a workplace requires a rota or shift management system, it is legally obliged to provide one in good time. The law does not specify how long this time is other than to say it must be reasonable.
  2. Second, under the Working Time Regulations, employees have the right to a rest period of 11 uninterrupted hours each day. On top of this, they must have at least 24 uninterrupted hours’ rest each week rest and cannot work over 48 hours in any seven-day period (unless they choose to opt-out). All businesses must factor these regulations into any scheduling management system.
  3. Third, workers are entitled to an uninterrupted break of 20 minutes when they work over six hours. Many businesses will increase this to either half an hour or a full hour. There may also be other breaks at the employer’s discretion. These will need to be factored into any schedule created.

Retail shift planning best practice

There are many shift planning steps that need to be followed to ensure that the process is as efficient as possible. These include: 

Align shift planning with business and operational requirements

You need to have a clear view of business and operational requirements when shift planning. This means understanding customers, their requirements, your employees, their skill levels and their availability, as well as seasonal trends in demand. This will allow a business to create comprehensive work schedules that always have the correct number of employees working. 

Monitor demand/historical data and have effective forecasts 

To produce efficient work schedules in the retail sector, you need to analyse historical data and monitor demand to forecast and plan for the future. This requires looking at busy times, quiet seasons, as well as any regular events, like Christmas, summer, etc., that impact on customer demand. You can utilise this to predict the number of employees you will need to ensure the business can work around customer’s needs in future months. 

Know staff and their availability (and create open lines of communications)

With retail demand constantly changing, it’s important to know staff and their availability intimately so you can get scheduling right first time. Make sure you check employee availability constantly and communicate schedules in advance. This allows employees to alert a business to scheduling conflicts, issues or problems early. 

Have contingency plans

Take the time to consider what contingency plans you can put into place for sudden surges in customer demand. For example, you could build a list of staff who live nearby and are able to work at short notice. Or you could use rota software with a notification system whenever new shifts are up for grabs.

You won’t be able to plan around every eventuality, but by using the experience of past incidents you can reduce the cost of common staffing disasters.

Utilise the right tools 

When you have a business that deals with constant changes in customer demand, keeping track of employee shifts is tricky, especially if you are using an archaic scheduling system like spreadsheets. Many business owners are now turning to shift planning software solutions to automate the process, enhance scheduling, and keep up-to-date information about employees. 

How can retail shift planning software help?

There are many benefits to using a good retail shift planning software package like the one we provide at Papershift. These include:

Fewer problems with under and over staffing

Consistency is key to offering a great customer service experience for any store. The number of customer success stories your business will have increases when your storefront is well-staffed and available to help.

Being understaffed can severely affect employee morale and the customer experience in general. Shift planning software can learn from business patterns and create a work schedule that incorporates customer traffic with employee availability.

Better employee retention

Employees thrive off consistency and knowing their set schedules as early as possible. Scheduling software can increase employee retention as staff will know what their shifts are early and can plan around them. This can help them achieve the work/life balance that is vital to them being happy in the workplace. 

Better schedule communication

Team communication is also strengthened through planning software as shifts are often automatically sent to staff as soon as they are finalised. This will allow staff to highlight issues and plan their home commitments accordingly. 

Decreased errors

Shift scheduling can be tedious when factoring in employee requests and attempting to fill open shifts at the last minute. Planning software tackles this issue by automating much of the process and ensuring that everyone’s shifts match the specific criteria set out by contracts, managers, and the law. 

It saves valuable time

Shift planning software can save a business huge amounts of time and energy. When human resources department and managers no longer need to balance schedules last minute and deal with disgruntled employees who do not feel their time is being respected, they can spend more time on looking at ways to improve the employee and customer experience.

Instead of spending hours changing a schedule and alerting all employees when a problem arises, planning software can make instant updates that reflect changes in real time to staff.

In conclusion

Rota planning is vital to the running of any retail endeavour but is hard to get right due to the constantly changing landscape of the sector. But if you want to maintain a good standard of service for your customers, it is paramount that scheduling is managed effectively. Using a good retail shift managing software solution can go a long way to achieving this goal.

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Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)