A Beginner’s Guide to Labor Force Planning and Schedule Forecasting

SwipeClock labor force planning
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Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

Are you constantly putting out scheduling fires? Would you like to improve your labor force planning? Employee scheduling can become a strategic tool for business growth. Instead of a relentless, unpleasant chore that occupies too much time and energy.

But you won’t be able to do it with spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are passive and just barely a step above pen and paper scheduling. You need employee scheduling software. Labor forecasting allows you to schedule as strategically as professional business data analysts employed by large corporations.

Goals of Employee Scheduling

  • Maximize productivity per cost of labor
  • Maintain a high level of customer service
  • Create a positive work environment
  • Attract and retain quality employees

How Will Labor Force Planning Help Your Business?

1. Lower labor costs.
2. Increase productivity.
3. Reduce unplanned overtime.
4. Eliminate shift coverage gaps.
5. Increase employee engagement and retention.
6. Ease administrative burden.
7. Guide hiring decisions.
8. Improve customer service.
9. Accommodate business growth.

1. Choose Your Schedule Forecasting System

Before you can use analytics, you need to choose a schedule forecasting system. The most important tool is the schedule builder. If it’s not intuitive and user-friendly, move on. The goal is to match best-fit employees to shifts in a systematic way.

Schedule templates let you drag and drop employees into shifts. The software should offer multiple overviews such as day, week, and month. Duplicate schedules and copy them forward with a couple clicks. Compare schedules for several teams or locations at once.

Employee profiles let you enter detailed information. This includes skills, training, availability, and license expiration dates. Personalization makes it easy to match workers with appropriate job roles and shifts. It also helps managers assemble effective teams and assign projects.

2. Customize Your Labor Force Planning Software

When you have chosen your software, now it’s time to customize it. Don’t neglect this step. It is critical. Take the time you need to enter every bit of information possible. This includes staffing needs per shift, business hours, and employee availability. Plus certification requirements and job codes for client or project billing.

Compliance settings protect you from labor violations. Enter rules for Predictive Scheduling, overtime, meals and breaks, and union contracts. If you manage a long-term care facility, find a system with Payroll Based Journal tools.

Don’t worry about getting everything perfect the first time. You can change your settings as often as you need to.

3. Enter Key Performance Indicators

Now you enter business metrics. These will vary depending on your type of business. For a retail store, it could be sales volume or store visitors. A manufacturer would enter production data, demand estimates, or cost of goods sold. A customer service center could use call volume or service tickets resolved. Enter sales to employee ratios and other contrasting metrics. Your software provider can help you with this critical step. Again, if conditions change, you can always update any this information.

System integration expands forecasting capability and ease of customization. For example, SwipeClock scheduling software allows you to import data from hundreds of other Human Resources applications.

4. Forecast Staffing Like A Pro

Now the labor forecasting magic happens. The software compiles a goldmine of workforce data. It applies algorithms based on your KPIs to determine precise staffing demands. It shows how to increase profitability by modifying labor variables. This could be shift length, team makeup, or project assignments. Determine which shifts need more workers. Monitor seasonal staffing trends contrasted with revenue, operating costs, or the number of clients. You will know whether to hire more employees or give current part-time employees more hours.

Powerful Labor Forecasting Software is Now Affordable

Sophisticated labor forecasting software is now affordable for small businesses. Data-driven scheduling provides a competitive edge. Optimization increases profitability and helps your business expand and diversify. It improves operational efficiency and eliminates waste. It helps your teams work smarter instead of harder.

Labor forecasting has benefits for established businesses as well as start-ups. With modern schedule software, you don’t need a data analyst degree to forecast labor needs.

What Could Advanced Labor Force Planning Mean For Your Business?

If you have a restaurant, you might be able to open a new location this year. If you run a construction company, you could take on more projects. If you provide business services, you could accommodate more clients. If you manage a healthcare facility, you could lower operating costs by reducing overtime.

A recreational product manufacturer used SwipeClock labor forecasting to grow from eight employees to more than 70 in less than a year. During this explosive growth, the company didn’t need to expand their admin staff. They also appreciated the reduction in paycheck errors. And the seamless integration with their payroll system.

Give Your Supervisors Smart Tools for Proactive Management

Powerful scheduling tools ease the administrative burden on managers.  It lets them schedule employees proactively instead of reactively. It allows them to focus on productivity and employee engagement instead of the mechanics of creating schedules.

Happier Employees Can Transform Your Workplace Culture

The benefits of labor forecasting aren’t limited to the bottom line. Improved labor forecasting allows businesses to support their employees’ work/life balance. For some companies, this is a game changer. It improves employee morale and lowers turnover. It establishes the company’s reputation as a forward-thinking employer of choice in their labor market.

SwipeClock demystifies labor force staffing and forecasting for small to mid-size businesses. We have custom employee scheduling solutions for manufacturing, construction, retail, food and beverage, healthcare, and hospitality. Contact a schedule forecasting expert at SwipeClock to learn more.

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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