Optimizing Your Distribution Center Supply Chain Starts with Better Scheduling

It’s no secret that optimizing your supply chain helps businesses keep up with logistics industry growth.

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It’s no secret that optimizing your supply chain helps businesses keep up with logistics industry growth.

While every supply chain is different, they all follow a similar set of rules, especially when it comes to maximizing distribution center efficiency.

While strategic planning and ongoing analysis are two ways to optimize your supply chain network design, there’s another lesser-known approach that also impacts your bottom line:

Employee empowerment.

Here, we’ll outline industry-leading approaches to empowering your employees through optimized scheduling for a more efficient, bottom-line boosting supply chain strategy.

Consider Flexible Scheduling

Traditionally, supply chain scheduling has relied on a fixed system with consistent weekly shift assignments.

However, more distribution centers are considering flexible scheduling, a system that embraces shift assignment change, empowering employees self-service and trade shifts among one another.

The benefits associated with flexible scheduling for employees have been noted by professionals manyfold and human resource experts are beginning to applaud the positives of flex scheduling, urging managers to embrace these programs due to their positive outcomes.

Here are three main benefits employees (and therefore employers) experience with flexible work schedules.

1.    Greater Sense of Being Valued

While it may seem like a simple act, showing your employees that they are valued can have a significant impact.

A recent study showed that 39% of employees state that feeling undervalued was their main reason for wanting to quit a job.

On the other hand, another study by the American Sociological Association showed that employees who were offered flexible work schedules showed much greater satisfaction in their job and feeling of support from their managers.

This study also showed that feeling valued at work is directly linked to employees’ mental and physical health. Being offered the choice to work schedules that are more suited to their needs helps them feel more valued by employers.

The end result: More appreciative and harder working employees.

2. Loyal Employees

Flexible scheduling breeds loyal employees. This is because it helps them put family, appointments, and other “life” situations that conflict with work at the forefront, allowing them to focus on themselves so that they can get back to focusing on work.

Personal situations change. This shouldn’t create a situation where you are forced to replace key employees. Flextime is a benefit that employees will appreciate that also creates stability within the workplace and allows you to hold on to your most valuable team members.

3. Improved Employee Wellness

As we briefly mentioned in benefit #1, the feeling of being valued at work helps improve employees’ overall well-being.

Since flexible schedules help increase the feeling of being valued, it can also support the overall health and wellness of your staff. These schedules lower stress levels while also allowing employees to tend to important personal matters – without losing overall location productivity.

In turn, employers enjoy a healthy, vibrant team of individuals who are eager to work at their very best.

Open Shift Posting and Voluntary Time Off (VTO)

Open shift posting and voluntary time off (VTO) can help adjust staffing levels in real-time as business demands change. VTO is particularly useful for clients within warehouses and distribution centers, for a couple of reasons.

To start, shipment delivery times vary, so team leaders are able to offer VTO when a shipment is late or a smaller than expected quantity of items is delivered. Managers may schedule a lot of staff over the holiday season, only to find a need for fewer workers than they expected. Offering VTOs in situations like these reduces unnecessary shift cancellations while helping workers feel empowered, respected, and valued.

The key to a successful open shift posting and VTO program is to offer them in a fair and efficient manner. Make sure all employees have the same opportunity to take advantage of VTO and shift swapping by working them into your scheduling processes. If your scheduling process is still handled manually, employees won’t have the information or ability to use VTO.

Making these processes as efficient as possible also helps you give enough notice when open shifts or VTO are available. Enabling employees to take VTO before they drive to their location keeps their best interest at heart which in turn, helps them become more loyal, interested, and productive team members.

What Works Best For Your Business?

Family-friendly policies that help alleviate work/life balance-based stress have always been a focus for employers. Now that studies show the wide range of benefits derived from employee empowerment through flexible scheduling options, more creative methods are being introduced to the workplace.

The truth is this: More flexible scheduling options can benefit all workers, and as we’ve seen, this directly impacts the way companies work at their foundation and succeed in the industry. The switch to better scheduling doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, embracing innovation in this way can be an enjoyable process that leads to greater supply chain optimization and a smoother running internal system for years to come.