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KronosWorks: Improving employee scheduling top retail priority


When it comes to workforce management, retailers are focusing on optimizing scheduling.

The need for automated and even employee-driven scheduling was a coherent theme in presentations and interviews given by several retailers during the KronosWorks 2015 conference in Las Vegas. In an address during the opening keynote session, Mike Zorn, senior VP of associate and labor relations at Macy’s Inc., discussed the importance of scheduling to employee morale.

“Associate scheduling is the number one reason people leave retail jobs,” said Zorn. “How do you make store associates engaged and motivated? With scheduling control and flexibility.”

Although Zorn acknowledged improved scheduling by itself will not retain associates, he said it is a crucial part of employee engagement. Using Kronos tools, Macy’s has created a self-service scheduling system that lets store associates select when and where they will work. The system also enables associates to swap shifts or publicly offer hours they can’t or don’t want to work.

“Almost 100% of our shifts are now filled by employees,” said Zorn. “Engaged associates lead to engaged customers, which leads to higher sales.”

In the future, Zorn said Macy’s hopes to automate compliance with workplace regulations by automatically clocking employees in and out as soon as they enter or leave a store. Macy’s also wants to offer scheduling flexibility in major metropolitan areas by enabling associates to balance their schedules with jobs at other, non-competing retail chains.

In an interview with Chain Store Age, Roger Metze, programmer/analyst with Lubbock, Texas-based, 60-stote regional grocer United Supermarkets, explained how United leverages Kronos applications to optimize scheduling and tracking of employees.

“We use Kronos Workforce Timekeeper across two distribution centers, the corporate office and stores,” said Metze. “We use the basic Workforce Scheduler in the distribution centers and Advanced Scheduler mainly in stores. We can optimize scheduling of the sackers and checkers.”

United also plans to optimize scheduling by specific department, so that specific areas of the store such as deli and dairy have the correct number of employees and skillsets present during key hours.

In stores, United has also been able to standardize its previous decentralized scheduling system that had every store running its own scheduling software.

“Scheduling has become a lot easier and takes managers a lot less time,” said Metze.

United similarly has been able to centralize its time and attendance management in stores, which previously relied on every store running a separate database.

“There are cost savings,” said Metze. “We now have punch restrictions and can minimize ‘buddy punching.’”

In another session, specialty auto retailer CarMax described how Kronos time and attendance technology enables the scheduling of employees to more accurately match their skillsets and the flow of work.

“Our scheduling was heavy on weekends, when sales associates don’t do a lot of administrative work,” said Jim Madison, HRIS senior analyst at CarMax. “We were able to spread scheduling throughout the week, when administrative work gets done, to make it more efficient.”

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