StaffHub is a solution offered by Office 365 that addresses the scheduling and communication needs of what they call “deskless workers” or shift workers. If you’ve ever worked in retail, hospitality, or a field where you’re working a shift, you’re aware of some of the challenges around schedules and getting information.
Personal Case Study
I used to work in retail for a toy store chain back in high school and college. During my last year at the job, I was one of the assistant managers and one of my responsibilities was to create the schedule for the following week. We used a large desk calendar that we posted on the wall. In the margin, we would be the handwritten names of the employees and from there, we would start filling in who would work on which days.
The staff was a mixed bag of individuals. We had high school and college students, singles in their 20s, people in their 30s with families, near-retirees and obviously each group had unique scheduling needs. The students couldn’t work mornings, those with families had difficultly workings evenings and as a manager, you had to factor in those scheduling needs. You also had to keep track of the typical scheduling needs like, did someone request for time off, or did I give someone too many or too few hours?
Managing the schedules of shift workers around the holidays can sometimes add to the challenges. In retail or hospitality, you may have an influx of temporary workers. In my case, we would need to break out a second desk calendar to post on the wall. The questions then become:
- Do I have enough cashiers?
- Are there enough people scheduled to be in for the freight delivery?
- Was the new person supposed to start this week?
- Did someone ask for a certain day off?
- Did I forget to put someone on the schedule?
And the list goes on and on!
The Manager – Setup
StaffHub is simple to use and does a fantastic job of alleviating those concerns. The manager(s) can log into StaffHub where they are greeted with a calendar. The manager can create groups to help organize people by roles.
Each group has an ‘Add Member’ button which prompts you for the person’s name and phone number. The person will receive a text message asking them to join.
Each cell in the calendar gives you the option of selecting shift’s that you define. If you have morning shifts, evening shifts, overnight shifts, or anything in between, you define it once and it appears on the menu as a selectable option.
Clicking ‘Add Shift…’ is where you define a shift. You enter start and end times and how long of an unpaid break is offered to that shift. You can also color code the shift to make it easy to identify the shift at a glance.
There’s also an ‘Activities’ tab where you can list out items that the shift is responsible for. An example could be a checklist of tasks that closing managers should follow:
- Close out the register
- Fill out a deposit slip
- Make sure the register has $100 in cash for the next shift to start with
- Make sure all doors are locked
- Make sure to turn on the alarm
The Shift Worker
I mentioned that ‘back in my day’ we posted the schedule on the wall. This was fine for most, but it wasn’t free of challenges either. If an employee wasn’t scheduled during the last few days of the week, he or she may not have been around to see the schedule released and would need to call to find out when their next day is. If the store was busy, as it tended to be during the holidays, they would need to call several times before getting an answer. Occasionally, someone wouldn’t get through or would get wrong information over the phone and wouldn’t know that they were expected in on the next day.
StaffHub solves this problem by providing a mobile app that is also very simple to use. When the employee opens the app, they immediately know when their next shift or in the case of this screenshot, when their current shift ends. They also see what their next few days are, and which shift they’re on. No more having to reach out to someone to get that information. As soon as the manager publishes the schedule, the employee has access to it.
Occasionally, people would need to switch their schedules. Students may want to swap a weekday for a weekend so that they could study for an exam. Those with families sometimes needed to swap with someone so that they could attend to a sick child or an early school dismissal. In order to swap, they typically would ask someone working a shift with them to swap hours on a future date and then run it by a manager for approval. Approvals were usually a formality but in the event that someone was giving up a day and another was picking it up, we’d need to make sure that the person gaining hours wasn’t flowing into overtime if it could be avoided. Coordinating that wasn’t difficult but often was a face to face interaction with someone followed by reaching out to the appropriate manager who may or may not be working on the day that you are.
The StaffHub app allows you to coordinate all of this easily with a simple approval workflow. You can simply go to the Requests tab and click on the plus icon at the bottom, right-hand side. A simple menu appears which gives you the option to ‘Swap or Offer Shift’ to another worker. Next, you can choose to swap or offer your time and you need to select the dates, people involved, and optionally provide a reason.
Once the ‘Send Request’ button is clicked, the person receiving the swap request will get notified and have to approve it and once that person approves, the manager will receive a notification to approve the swap. When the manager approves it, the swap is automatically made in the calendar and all devices will pick up the change in schedule.
Another challenge that people faced was getting information quickly. StaffHub provides two features to handle communication issues. The first is a ‘Messages’ tab that allows you to communicate with your coworkers.
The next is an ‘Inbox’ tab where managers can upload employee handbooks, policies, and procedures, information about sales for your location, images, etc.
It’s obvious to see how a simple tool like StaffHub can provide huge benefits to shift workers by eliminating the hassle of having to hunt people down for information about when you’re scheduled, finding people to swap or take a shift, and finding pertinent information that office workers can usually search for on an intranet or other shared storage. There are so many people working in retail, hospitality, and other service industries. There are so many organizations with a large number of employees working various hours outside of the office worker’s typical 8am – 5pm. StaffHub gives them a convenient and intuitive solution at their fingertips.
SharePoint/Office 365 Architect
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