June 27, 2019

How Poor Workforce Scheduling Costs Educational Institutions Millions (and What to Do about It)


With soaring tuition fees in private institutions and falling wages of public teachers, the education sector has been going through a challenging shift for years. From rising student debt to states steadily cutting funding, higher education institutions are under pressure to dramatically lower their expenses. On the other hand, teachers in public schools are protesting their compensation and leaving their jobs at the highest rate on record. Clearly, these critical organizations need to find a way to optimize their budgets and workforce management processes.

One of the key factors driving labor expenses is inefficient staff scheduling, usually done by manual scheduling tools, such as spreadsheet software. Although it might seem simple to use, the primary purpose of this tool isn’t creating rosters, let alone factoring in fluctuating employee availability, seasonal changes of courses and activities, and the needs of a diverse workforce. The shortfalls of manual scheduling are evident not only in lower productivity, with unexpected absences and missed shifts, but also in the bottom line, through costs of overtime work and employee turnover.

Why manual scheduling is not the right solution for shift-based work

Firstly, static scheduling tools fail to give insight into the labor budget and employee availability, so school managers and administrators end up having to consult multiple employee data sources before they even start assigning shifts. Regardless of how thorough they are, making mistakes is almost inevitable, as there’s no way to instantly resolve scheduling conflicts or unexpected absences. Considering that the employees have limited capability to participate in the scheduling process, or even just view the latest changes, it’s no wonder that last-minute schedule updates go unnoticed, resulting in missed shifts.

Worse yet, the resulting poor schedule isn’t the effect of managers’ lack of commitment—static tools steal hours from their work day—but the method itself is inefficient.

On the administrative side, decentralized, manual scheduling makes it difficult to keep complete and accurate records of employee attendance. These inconsistencies put organizations at risk for being penalized for labor law violations—another hidden cost of poor scheduling, but one that can result in both financial repercussions and damaged reputation.

How poor scheduling affects faculty staff

The numbers speak for themselves: the teacher attrition rate in the U.S. is about 8%, going even higher for beginners and teachers in high-poverty schools and districts. Gallup finds that only a third of university faculty and staff are engaged in their jobs.

Disengagement and the high level of turnover not only disrupt the students’ learning experience and achievement, but also undermines the effort of the entire team. And each time an employee must face overtime or cover an understaffed shift, their engagement drops further and they are one step closer to leaving the profession.

For teachers struggling with basic expenses and relying on part-time jobs for additional income, irregular shift schedules put a significant strain on their work-life balance. If they don’t have control over their working hours, sooner or later they will be forced to miss work, even if they’re dedicated to the job.

The specialized solution instead of a subpar tool

Deploying a cloud-based software specialized for employee shift scheduling can sidestep all of these issues. Humanity offers a system that accounts for employee’s skills, preferred working hours and absences, so supervisors can create conflict-free schedules more efficiently and keep employees in the loop in case of changes. Real-time monitoring of labor budget ensures effective cost control, while instant warnings pertaining to regulatory requirements enable supervisors to keep their schedules compliant. Humanity is also integrated with the industry-leading Human Capital Management companies, so all key employee data is available in a single system of record.