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06/14/2021

How to Solve Shift Work Management Challenges

When it comes to understanding labor laws and preparing your business, the unsung hero is software.
a man cooking food on a table
When it comes to understanding labor laws and preparing your business, the unsung hero to help navigate Fair Workweek legislation and compliance is software.

For more than 14 months, America has experienced monumental changes, including historic unemployment numbers, subsequent economic hardship, and extreme exhaustion amongst those that remained employed throughout the pandemic. Now, we are met with the residual effects of a mentally and physically-taxed society, which has accelerated and amplified a modern labor movement that has gained momentum in the last several years, especially as it relates to shift workers.

The hospitality industry is taking on a particularly prominent role among this public outcry after suffering one of the biggest economic blows by the pandemic. According to the National Restaurant Association, nearly 2.5 million restaurant workers were left jobless. Recently, the Labor Department released findings of a significant labor shortage in hospitality and fast food, attributing the issue to workers reassessing their work after a tumultuous year. Many workers have noted working longer hours, unpredictable scheduling, and increased risk of contracting coronavirus on the job among other reasons for their hesitation to return to work.

While the problem is deep-rooted and will require sweeping systemic changes, many hospitality operators have already begun leveraging technology solutions to create better efficiencies, safety precautions, and stability for their businesses and employees.

One area technology has improved immediately is digitizing shift schedules. According to Deputy––the shift work management software––businesses who have turned to these user-friendly solutions have seen a 18% increase in productivity, 16% increase in profitability, 37% decrease in absenteeism, and 65% decrease in turnover.

In the last several months media coverage of worker treatment and environments has increased – detailing accounts of shift workers across a variety of industries continuing to be unfairly scheduled or compensated.  This proves to be a complex challenge for both business owners and local government, especially where policies, like Fair Workweek, come into play. Initially passed by San Francisco in 2014, Fair Workweek laws aim to make work more predictable for employees by requiring they be provided their schedules in advance and given good faith estimates of anticipated work hours. The predictive scheduling law has picked up steam since 2014 and has been passed by several major cities nationwide, including Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York City.

When it comes to understanding these laws and preparing your business, surprisingly, the unsung hero to help navigate Fair Workweek legislation and compliance is software. The right software can automate schedule change penalties, clopening penalties, and create good faith estimates. This helps employers ensure accurate headcount based on demand, leads to far fewer schedule changes, and thus happier employees.

Some technology has gone a step further to adapt to current challenges related to COVID-19 to keep employees protected and safe. Outside of contact tracing and increased sanitization practices, features like the following have been helpful for business operators:

  • Real time text & video messaging features, including conducting visual walkthroughs of new procedures.
  • Scaled pay, which automates different pay rates to the same employee according to the job they are fulfilling as well as location they are in.
  • Facial recognition and voice commands to enable employees to touchlessly clock in and out of work, as well as start and end breaks.
  • Tailored schedules that are generated based on employee preferences (e.g. shift length, days, locations, and availability).

An additional layer to the development of SaaS platforms that makes both employers’ and employees’ lives easier is the integration of legal compliance, which ensures legalities affecting both parties are being enforced in a transparent manner.

Some other areas that configured compliance rules built into software can address include:

  • State, federal, and local overtime rules
  • Meal and rest break requirements
  • Leaves of absence
  • Premium and penalty pay requirements built into the software and auto applied when required, such as California’s 7th consecutive workday premium pay

What’s Next For Hospitality’s Labor Movement?

As hospitality operators and employees brace for a completely revised approach to conducting business this year, there are a several changes they should anticipate will begin to take firmer shape, such as:

  • Unwavering demand for a $15 – $17 minimum wage. Businesses that aren’t willing to make these changes can expect to become increasingly short staffed as business demand increases and employees unite for higher wages.
  • Growing interest in passing local, state, and federal legislation that protects employees.
  • An increased interest in digitizing the industry to keep people safe, compliant, and happy, including adopting time/attendance software that will minimize labor costs.

 

About the Author

Krista Hardwick is in-house legal counsel at Deputy.