Stable Scheduling Is Key to Reducing Turnover

Sam’s Club moved to a stable schedule process in 2019 and reduced turnover by up to 70%.

April 04, 2022

Flexible Scheduling Written on an HR Sticky Note

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Part-time and full-time hourly workers are still experiencing inadequate hours and unpredictable schedules, despite research showing that scheduling issues were three of the major drivers of the Great Resignation, reports Harvard Business Review in an article from the Good Jobs Institute.

HBR says that many companies are giving employees unstable schedules as an attempt to cut labor costs. Business churn out schedules last minute as they try to match the amount of labor needed based on current customer demand.

However, a stable scheduling system for employees while still being highly profitable is possible, but strong operations must be in play. Companies that offer stable schedules are able to do so by minimizing “self-inflicted last-minute choices,” which can include changes to shipping dates/units, marketing/promotions changes and visits from corporate leaders.

This means that some operational procedures within the company must change. Operational decisions that make work more consistent and employees more flexible and stable include predictable deliveries that arrive within a 15-minute window; stable prices—without promotions, workloads are more stable and customer demand is more predictable; cross-trained employees, allowing them to shift between customer-facing tasks like opening a register and non-customer-facing tasks like cleaning the store based on customer traffic; well-paid and well-respected employees—HBR says that turnover in these types of work environments is less than 5%.

Sam’s Club moved to a stable schedule in 2019 through people investment and operational changes, including increasing wages for key roles by $5 to $7 an hour, cross-training employees, making workload more consistent by shifting overnight employees to days, and introducing new tools to make workloads more predictable. HBR says the company was able to reduce turnover by up to 70% after implementing these changes.

Kum & Go, meanwhile, is hiring what the company is calling a flex pool associate, allowing these workers to build their own schedule by picking up shifts at the specific store locations they want to work.

NACS partnered with the nonprofit Good Jobs Institute in January 2020 to bring the Good Jobs Strategy to the convenience store industry. The Good Jobs Strategy, which is a combination of investment in people and smart operating choices, increases employee productivity, motivation and contribution and promotes operational excellence. Case studies show that implementing the Good Jobs Strategy can grow a business and increase customer loyalty.

The costs of providing good jobs, such as wage or benefit increases, are immediate and easy to quantify, while the greatest benefits, including revenue uplift and cost reduction, are further out and harder to quantify.

To help retailers learn more about the Good Jobs Strategy, Sarah Kalloch of the Good Jobs Institute shared the financial implications for creating good jobs at convenience stores in a 20-minute webinar, “Identify the Financial Benefits of Creating Good Jobs.”

The webinar also explained how to use the Good Jobs Calculator, which is designed exclusively for NACS and the convenience industry. This tool allows retailers to use their own data and customized assumptions about the amount of improvement or uplift achievable, and executives can run scenarios on the bottom-line impact of a Good Jobs system.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported late last week that total nonfarm payroll jobs rose by 431,000 in March, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%. Job growth occurred in food services and drinking places (+61,000), accommodation (+25,000) and retail trade (+ 49,000), including general merchandise stores (+20,000) and food and beverage stores (+18,000). In March, 10% of Americans with jobs teleworked specifically because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 13% in February, the bureau reported.