Scheduling Predictability for Hourly and On-Call Workers

From San Francisco’s Retail Employees Rights Ordinances, to Oregon’s Fair Work Week Act, to the federal Schedules that Work Act proposed this past July, the push for fair scheduling continues to gain momentum at all levels. And while bills and ordinances differ, one thing they share is the desire to create new levels of autonomy and fairness for low-wage, hourly, and on-call workers.

There are plenty of reasons why your business may want to pay attention, even if these bills don’t directly affect you yet.

Why Schedule Predictability for Hourly Workers Matters

Today’s workers have more options for career growth than they did just a few years ago.

The nation’s unemployment rate is as low as it’s been in a decade. While this is good news for the economy, it can create challenges for business owners.

1. As the economy has improved, so too has the “quit-rate,” according to data from the Bureau of Labor. That means more employees are voluntarily leaving their current jobs for something new. For many workers, a new job means more money. A recent Bloomberg article points out that job hoppers earned a 4.3% salary bump in 2016, compared to a 3% salary increase for those who stayed put.

2. There’s also a new kind of competition in the job market, as more workers try to turn their side hustles into careers as part of the gig economy. As many as 55 million people—35% of the nation’s workforce—now consider themselves freelancers, a number that’s projected to reach 40% by the year 2020. And one of the strongest lures toward gig work points back to having greater control over scheduling.

How Data Influences Schedule Predictability

Not long ago, businesses accounted for workers as “fixed costs.” But now, as Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor writes, new technologies make it easier for companies to follow a flexible scheduling model. For instance, businesses can use data to predict in-the-moment, real-time staffing needs, and avoid costs related to things like overstaffing during slow times.

While this is great for businesses, it doesn’t help workers who require stability and planning in their personal lives. And language related to the proposed 2017 Schedules that Work Act echoes this sentiment:

“Unstable, unpredictable, and rigid scheduling practices disproportionately affect low-wage workers. Roughly half of low-wage workers reported having very little or no say over the specific hours they were scheduled to work, and 20 to 30 percent struggled with being required to work extra hours with little or no notice.”

According to data referenced in the proposed bill, unpredictable and unstable schedules are particularly common in retail, food service, and cleaning occupations: as many as 64% of early career workers receive schedules less than one week in advance.

Let’s consider retail. Looking at sites such as, or the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for retail sales associates is less than $11 an hour. On the flip side, estimates that an Uber driver’s average hourly salary is as high as $14.75.

When you add up a lack of scheduling control, and a low hourly rate, it’s easy to see why people may decide to shelve retail for good, and try something new.

Today’s workers appreciate being part of the planning process, and having more control over their shifts. Our recent report, “Always On the Clock,” explores the line between flexibility and stability, and what it means from a worker’s point of view. Read it today, and discover the benefits of giving employees more say over their schedules.

Read the White Paper

What If Businesses Gave Hourly Workers More Say, and Greater Predictability, with Advanced Scheduling?

There are a number of best practices you can follow to make life a little easier for your hourly employees. Whether it involves releasing schedules earlier, setting firm deadlines for time-off requests, or honoring a list of employee shift preferences, everything you do to encourage employee engagement can cycle back into retaining your workforce. And this includes using advanced scheduling software to create a predictable scheduling model your employees can rely on.

Some employees may need a flexible schedule because of their home life. Others may have very strict needs related to working on specific days. Whatever the case may be, workers at all levels appreciate when companies take their personal needs into account when scheduling.

According to a recent study out of the UK, when workers have greater autonomy over things such as schedules, they gain a more positive outlook on their overall well-being, along with higher levels of job satisfaction.

stratustime from nettime solutions is built around giving workers and managers new levels of scheduling ease and control.

• From an ease-of-use standpoint, you and your employees can clock in and out via a dedicated time clock, a central kiosk or POS system on a PC, or remotely via PC, laptop, tablet, mobile phone or dial-in.
• You can check schedules, view vacation and PTO accruals, request time off, swap shifts and more via computer, tablet, or mobile phone.
• On the management side, you can set up schedule templates for employees to follow, and create policies around things like shift-swapping.
• If your business is dealing with high levels of illness and absenteeism, you can set up mechanisms so employees can voluntarily adjust schedules to help make sure you’re not short-staffed during a busy season.

It remains to be seen just how far the push for fair scheduling will go, and how businesses will adapt. What is becoming clearer, however, is that when businesses shift toward predictable scheduling, they’re taking a positive step toward supporting their workers.

You can gain more control of weekly and monthly staffing needs, all while giving more power to your hourly employees. Find out how stratustime can help you customize schedule templates, analyze your staffing strategies, minimize payroll expenses and much more. Give us a call today. We’ll put stratustime on the clock for you.

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