Many companies have quickly adopted software for managing payroll, business processes, and human resources, but scheduling is still often handled through spreadsheets and offline files. That means someone is responsible for planning and posting schedules at least a week in advance while searching for copies of qualifications, certifications, legal requirements, and other rules for hundreds of employees. 

That job becomes even more complex when employees from other departments or facilities are filling in during shortages or busy periods. “Those sets of workers have separate rules around them because they're doing a different job with different qualifications,” says Sam Jorgenson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Indeavor. “Someone who's scheduling has to take into account those rules as well.”

To learn about one solution for untangling the web of information that feeds into the scheduling process, we spoke with both Jorgenson and Paula Conlon, Content Marketing Manager, from Indeavor. Indeavor helps 24/7 workplace environments simplify scheduling through a cloud-based workforce management application called Indeavor Scheduling. The software provides real-time visibility, minimizes scheduling redundancies and errors, and maximizes employee productivity and engagement. 

“Scheduling is a company’s largest controllable cost and most valuable ass  et,” Jorgenson says. “A business can't move without people.”

Recognizing the limits of manual scheduling

According to Jorgenson, “segmented and siloed” information complicates traditional scheduling methods — HR manages the certification and qualification data, records of hours worked and time off come from time and attendance tracking systems, and then there are regulations and union information to consider. In a typical system, a lot of that material is housed in separate Excel spreadsheets or sheets of paper. 

“There's a lot that goes into creating a schedule,” Jorgenson explains. “It's very complex because you have to go through a certain process and order.” And in this tedious, time-consuming task, unseen errors are bound to happen — assigning a worker to a job for which he’s not qualified, over or understaffing shifts, and risking a lack of compliance with federal regulations. “Unless you live it every day, you may not know you have those challenges and issues arising.”

In Indeavor’s experience, many companies assume they already have a scheduling system through their time and attendance software. But, although that software often has a scheduling component, its sole purpose is to verify hours worked, not to create and display a schedule. “The person who runs your production line doesn't log in to the backend of your time and attendance system and see where they're working on a specific day,” Jorgenson says. “They still have to look at the posted paper schedule.”

Scheduling software is the missing link. Not only does it create a schedule that takes into account all of a company’s scheduling rules, employee qualifications, and so on, but it connects to other software to create an interconnected system for workforce management.

With Indeavor’s product, data from human capital management (HCM) system channels into the schedule creation. “And then our schedule feeds time and attendance,” Jorgenson explains, “so that employees punch in for the right job.” Employees can view their schedules in real time through mobile devices, where they can swap shifts, request time off, and see approval notifications. “It then feeds into payroll and becomes all one seamless chain.”

Reforming recordkeeping for FSMA compliance

Because scheduling software centralizes employee-related data, it makes it easier to retrieve necessary records. Jorgenson says that, generally, if plants already have a system for documenting this information, it’s to help with accountability for workplace issues. “If a machine breaks down, they want to know who was working before, after, and during the event.”

But FSMA has upped the documentation requirements for everything related to food safety. The intentional adulteration rule in particular has implications for workforce management. “If you're scheduling on paper and you have a contamination issue, and a regulatory body comes in and wants to see something, you’ll have to produce the documents to prove who was working then,” Jorgenson explains.

Of course, proper food safety plans must provide more information than who was working when. “It also includes the training schedules of your employees and their certifications,” Conlon adds. “And it has to be so accessible that you're able to provide the plan to the FDA within 24 hours.” That presents another challenge for paper records, which can be misplaced, lost, or discarded. “You can't really hand them a ream of paper and say, ‘It's in there somewhere,’” Jorgenson says. 

A payroll report won’t cut it. All it proves is who was paid to do a job. It doesn’t account for other important information like employee certifications and qualifications, or whether any of those certifications have expired. Jorgenson says he’s spoken with HR representatives who don’t have a sufficient means for tracking those details, but instead rely on “the rules in their head about who they think is certified to work those jobs.” Which means, if an employee calls off at the last minute, HR may bring in someone who doesn’t meet all the requirements for the job.

Indeavor’s solution is designed to prevent these risks, allowing schedulers to assign employees based on availability, training, certifications, overtime, call-offs, and more. This is accomplished through a qualification management system (QMS), which compiles company-wide employee data and automatically creates a schedule according to the rules and availability. “In that way, you always know that a qualified employee is getting assigned to that job,” Conlon says.

“And in the event that you do have a contamination issue or there is an accident on site,” Jorgenson adds, “you now have documented proof that the person who was working that job was certified, trained, and qualified.”

Increasing workforce efficiency amidst labor shortages

Finally, many of the articles in this series have addressed the workforce challenges facing the food industry. 

Jobs in food manufacturing are plentiful and continue to grow, but there’s a substantial gap between the number of positions available and the number of workers willing to fill them. Yet food companies still must find a way to keep production going.  

“To hit production deadlines, facilities are between a rock and a hard place because they're trying to forecast their demands to schedule accordingly,” Conlon says. “You don't want to overstaff and pay for redundancies. You also don't want to spend too much money on unbudgeted overtime because you didn't have enough workers on the line.” Most of Indeavor’s customers fall into that second category, where employees are overworked in order to compensate for the labor shortage. 

That’s where real-time analytics come into play, allowing companies to fill in scheduling gaps, prevent overstaffing, and, in some cases, eliminate unnecessary overtime. “By comparing real-time employee information to your real-time labor information (historical demand trends, for example), you can more accurately determine when overtime is truly necessary,” Conlon says. And if overtime is necessary, employee availability and total hours can indicate which staff members may be at risk of work fatigue. 

Because of its ability to improve workforce efficiency, Indeavor provides a cost-cutting system with a high ROI. But, perhaps more importantly, it helps companies thrive when resources are tight. “Just because there's a worker shortage,” Conlon says, “it doesn't mean that facilities can't ensure that the best, most qualified workers are working the right job to meet those deadlines.”

Indeavor will be attending PROCESS EXPO for the first time this year. Jorgenson found out about the opportunity through another trade show that identified PROCESS EXPO as a better fit for them. “Judging by the folks that are at the show, it’s very efficiency-driven,” he says. “Those are the people that we like to speak to. We can help them become more efficient, regulate their labor, and make sure things are set up correctly.”

To learn more about how real-time scheduling boosts workforce efficiency and helps with regulatory compliance, you can find Indeavor at Booth #562 at PROCESS EXPO.