How Poor Scheduling Affects Employee Turnover and How You Can Overcome It
High employee turnover impacts field services more than any other sector. As novice employees replace experienced workers who are more familiar with the job, there can be a decline in the quality of service rendered. According to a LinkedIn Talent Blog, the professional services sector faces a high turnover rate with nearly 11.4% of employees leaving their employment in a year’s span. Employees leave their jobs due to several reasons, but poor work conditions rank high on the list. How field service companies schedule services impacts their work conditions. So, in this post, we’re analyzing three ways by which field service scheduling impacts employee turnover and how you can optimize scheduling to improve employee retention.
1. Improper Planning
Field service scheduling depends on the way a business organizes its tasks. Misaligned workflows prevent the technician from completing their work on time, or wait long for approvals. The resultant delays cause schedules to go awry. Many enterprises schedule the closest technician to the job site. But the eagerness for speedy response may result in a second visit if the nearest technician is not qualified for that particular task.
Poor communication and lack of visibility into spares impede the field agent’s ability to complete the job on time. The inability to forecast demand leads to field agents idling at times, and being stressed out due to overwork at other times. Delays in completing a job will have a domino effect, forcing the business to re-organize their schedules.
All these will force the employees into overtime, extra shifts, and double shifts. When such instances happen too often, talented employees get frustrated and resentful and they eventually leave their jobs.
Here are a few ways to overcome such issues:
- Rationalize the business workflow, focusing on lean principles.
- Diagnose the nature of the problem and send the most qualified technician. Or else, have a robust system of collaboration with remote experts working from home or office to help the field technician.
- Invest in a robust field service management suite that enables better communication, collaboration, and supports inventory management.
- Leverage analytics to forecast demands and schedule field technicians accordingly. Pace out routine servicing and other minor jobs to times of low demand.
2. Poor Scheduling
Even the highly efficient enterprises often commit the mistake of poor scheduling that manifests in forcing employees to work on double shifts, on extended hours, during odd-hours, or on holidays. Such actions frustrate the employee. It may even violate labor regulations.
The business loses out through low productivity in the short term, and through high employee turnover in the long term. Full-time service industry employees who do not have to work on weekends remain on the job for more years, compared to similar employees who have to work on weekends. Many full-time employees feel dejected if forced to work during weekends.
Many-a-times, service schedulers have their hands tied owing to business exigencies. For instance, a lawn mowing business or landscaping business may want an early start, as soon as the sun rises, to make the most out of daylight. Commercial cleaners may work only on Sundays or after the office closes on workdays. If a technician has to go on an unavoidable leave, it may force the remaining technicians to work on a double shift.
Here are a few ways to resolve such scheduling woes:
- Manage employees’ expectations around shifts. Be upfront of working hours. Asking candidates if they will work the hours required, at recruitment time can, by itself, weed out candidates who are not a suitable fit.
- Make taxing shifts an exemption and not the norm. Communicate to the employee the reason for the abnormal scheduling.
- Some employees, especially part-timers, may prefer odd-hours or extended shifts on weekends. Identify such employees and assign them the abnormal timings.
- Do not ignore the human element. Field agents penalized for not completing a task in a specific time slot, with no provision for exemptions, feel robotic and dehumanized. When committing a timeframe to the customer, make allowance for human fatigue and other possible delays.
3. Rigid Policies
Many enterprises have a rigid field service scheduling policy. Flexible scheduling allows employees the freedom to schedule their hours, as long as they meet the required number of hours every week. Flexible scheduling decreases workplace stress and increases job satisfaction. According to a recent survey by Zenefits, 73% of employees said flexible work arrangements increased their satisfaction at work.
But flex scheduling often comes in the way of business exigencies, and you need to ensure these factors are counted:
- Allow a limited/restricted flex scheduling, where employees may opt for shifts from the available options. Have clear policies that make explicit when and where flexible schedules will not be applicable and why. Provide clarity on what happens when two employees seek the same schedule.
- Institute work from home and telecommuting wherever possible, to mitigate scheduling issues. Expert technicians may base at their home or office, and issue instructions to field agents using collaboration tools. They may even guide customers willing to use self-service portals.
Effective field service scheduling requires factoring in several dynamic variables. A manual (human) scheduler may not grasp or even realize all such variables. Investing in an integrated field service management suite like ReachOut allows you to reap the advantages of automated scheduling rather than a stand-alone scheduling software. Along with an automated scheduler, ReachOut offers you plenty of features such as invoice management, work order management, customers and ticket tracking, field inspections and audits, and so on.
Contact us to know more about how the ReachOut suite pays off in a short while through reduced employee turnover and improved morale with effective field service scheduling.
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