The hospitality sector has become more challenging over the past few years – a period of market growth and aggressive roll-outs of chains created fierce competition, but more recently, customers are feeling the pinch with real incomes squeezed, and cost pressures increasing due to the National Living Wage and devaluation of sterling.
Today, most operators have robust financial controls in place, enabling tight control on wages, flexing labour up or down in line with sales. However, squeezing wages further risks taking labour out in the wrong places as operators struggle to see where productivity gains can be made. Workforce Management systems that incorporate ‘shape of day’ are required to pinpoint areas of over and under staffing, enable staff availability and shift patterns to be better matched over time.
Some businesses have invested in first generation of Workforce Management systems, but these are expensive and increasingly dated – underlying technology has been masked by a modern user experience (with limited digital capabilities). More recently, an explosion of new entrants into the market with mobile solutions are enabling basic scheduling that is easier for managers and lets employees request shift swaps and view timecards. The downside is that these new entrants struggle to integrate their solutions with HR/Payroll providers and they lack the hidden intelligence in their software to enable workforce management optimisation over time. In short, whilst incremental productivity gains are possible, the hospitality industry is struggling to achieve the year on year improvements required.
Productivity is hugely challenging, as it requires changes to the way people work either through reducing total hours and/or moving to more flexible shift patterns. A focus on ‘getting the basics right’ is the foundation – it simply isn’t worth considering ‘optimisation’ if schedules are not being published on time or hours are not being captured accurately each and every day. Fortunately, the best Workforce Management systems make this easy, providing mobile solutions with actionable information on correct use and behaviours. Shift changes and approving timecards are managed ‘on the go’.
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