Employee Engagement – Communication

I have a life too ...

It seems to me that there has been a change is the way most of us think about our lives over the last 20 years. We used to want to establish a career and climb the ladder as far as we could and that was the main focus. Our current work forces seem to be a bit more balanced, wanting to have a balance in work and life outside of work. This is an understanding that we must use to our advantage when dealing with a labor intensive operation... especially the Hospitality Industry.

When reviewing employee engagement surveys, there seems to be one method of communication that operators can improve upon and make significant strides in growing the engagement within their group. That method of communication would be the work schedule. I know that seems rather elementary or basic, but remember top performers have mastered the basics. The work schedule has evolved over the last several years with online scheduling provided by many different companies like When To Work, Hot Schedules, etc. Some organizations are taking advantage of these online tools to help streamline the scheduling process; it enables employees to view schedules online... mostly accessed by employees smartphones. This technology is once again a great improvement, but only if they are used correctly.

There are several issues that revolve around the work schedule, although the schedule itself is a communication piece the issues will fall into the fairness category most of the time. As you know there are 5 cornerstones to employee engagement.

  • Communication
  • Recognition
  • Training
  • Respect
  • Fairness

The most common issues revealed to us employee engagement surveys are; posting the schedule late | requests not being met | work schedules not being distributed fairly.


Posting the schedule late not only falls into the communication and fairness cornerstone, but also respect. Since employees are more focused on their life outside of work they need time to plan what they will be doing on their days off, a schedule posted only a few days before it starts limits the ability of an employee to plan. I have experienced employees that will go ahead and make plans and if the work schedule conflicts with the plans, they will call off work... multiplying the intensity of the issue. In some instances employees have multiple jobs and scheduling is critical to their ability to perform both jobs successfully. My oldest daughter is a full time student, works at the front desk of a local hotel, works for a national restaurant chain in multiple positions, teaches dance at a studio and also gives private dance lessons... she is busy! She came to me the other day and said that one of her jobs had not yet posted the schedule, it was 3 days past the normal post day. You can only imagine how this issue caused her undue stress and anxiety.

Requests not being met is very similar to the late posting of the schedule. Employees need certain days off due to hundreds of reasons, medical appointments, vacation, family, etc. Again understanding the need and want for balance, these requests given in advance should be met. Try explaining to an employee that the request they made weeks in advance for a day off will not be granted, this is usually not a good conversation. You can list as many reasons as possible, but it will not be received well by the employee. Your reasons may be valid, but remember the employees perception is their reality. They will most certainly mention that one of their co-workers got their request met.

Work schedules not being distributed fairly is also a very common complaint. "I have not had a weekend off in months", "Certain people in my department always get the AM shift", "When I was hired, I was told that I would not have to work late at night" and "Why can't we rotate weekends offâ" are all comments pulled randomly from a recent employee engagement survey. These all indicate unfair work distribution and if persistent will erode your employee engagement. Schedule makers need to keep these things in mind when creating.

Now I will be the first to admit that making a schedule is not the most glamorous task that management has to complete, but it is more important that you think and getting more important as employees focus more on life/work balance. I mentioned above the new technology for online scheduling, all of which enhance the communication piece of the schedule, but fail to correct the fairness and respect aspects of the work schedule. In fact the schedule that was late in the example I gave about my daughter was an online schedule. So if they are not administered properly then they will also cause issues.

Take a look at your scheduling processes and take into account the impact they have on your employees and their lives. There is always room for improvement and mastering the basics is key to success.

If you would like to discuss your engagement issues, please feel free to contact me for a free employee engagement consultation. randy@rjsdatagroup.com

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