Put aside for a moment all the operational efficiencies of automating the scheduling in your security services firm — we will get to them below —and consider one benefit that gets frequently overlooked: the software’s positive effect on staff retention.
Of course, I don’t have to remind you that guard turnover is a continuing headache in our industry, and that the recurring hassles and costs of recruiting and training guards do not add fun to your day.
This is where automated scheduling and staff retention come in. Let me explain.
Workplace research shows that a sense of autonomy on the job contributes significantly to employee well-being. By autonomy, I mean the perceived feeling that an employee can make choices and decisions about their work, e.g., where, when, and on what they work.
Naturally, there are many degrees of autonomy on the job.
A well-designed automated scheduling system can offer your guards a greater sense of autonomy and well-being by:
✔ Offering flexible scheduling options
Smartly designed scheduling software offers employees the electronic equivalent of shift boards that display their scheduling options. For example, a guard still in college or one that is newly a father may have specific schedules they prefer. The electronic shift board offers them the flexibility of choosing a suitable schedule, and that choice contributes to their sense of well-being on the job.
✔ Enabling flexible shift offering methods which allows your people to be more proactive
The process of shift offering, a form of self-scheduling, leaves a big part of the scheduling in the hands of employees. They proactively shape their schedule within the parameters you set.
For example, you, the employer, send an SMS to a list of officers, and based on their first-come, first-served responses, you assign shifts. Alternatively, you can send an SMS in a sequence to your list of officers. You set the duration of time permissible for a response. You can also offer different wage rates at different times during the bidding. As a result, employees feel they have more control over their scheduling.
✔ Reinforcing a sense of fair play
Well-designed scheduling software provides tracking for both you and your guards for breaks and meal times.
As a result of this transparent tracking, your guards are able to clearly start and end breaks and then see when they took their breaks. Moreover, since all this activity is tracked and leaves an audit trail, you can consult the electronic records as required.
✔ More benefits for you and your finance team
Besides contributing to your guards’ well-being, automating your scheduling with the latest industry-focused software will make your operational life a whole lot easier and more efficient.
You will spend much less time fighting avoidable fires and soothing clients dissatisfied by scheduling snafus.
Here are some of the pains automated scheduling will efficiently eliminate or reduce:
✗ Wrong fit between guard and site
Not every guard is the right fit for every site, and not every site is the right fit for every guard. By automating the identification of skills and attributes of your guards, you drive efficiency and service delivery.
✗ Over-dependence on human schedulers
Some firms may become overly reliant on human schedulers, who manage to store all the qualifications and preferences of your guards in their minds and personal classification systems. As a result, the company becomes vulnerable to scheduler absences or demands. Automated scheduling greatly reduces this vulnerability.
✗ Missed coverage
The last-minute book-off is inevitable, unavoidable, and it can throw a wrench into a scheduler’s workflow. When software helps you find guards quickly, you lower overhead, and your people can spend more time on bigger-picture issues. Easily identify the next best available person.
✗ Double booking
What do you do when two guards show up for the same shift? Your client, to say the least, will not be impressed. On top of that: Which guard gets paid? Both? That hurts reputation and the bottom line.
Not overworking your team is important from an HR, efficiency point-of-view and a dollars-and-cents angle. Simply put, unbilled overtime (OT) can kill your margins (and we know they are tight as it is). With automated scheduling, you know who is available and what their weekly total hours are at.
Clearly, automated scheduling can contribute to your guards’ sense of autonomy and well-being. Those feelings translate into greater staff retention and a less stressed HR team.
On the bottom line side of things, your finance and leadership teams will really like the operational efficiencies generated by automated scheduling.
When those teams are smiling, you know you have taken a big step towards building a more successful business.