Julie Bushee, Director of Labor Support
Joaquin Huerta, Senior Industrial Engineer
Your standards work is complete. Congratulations! But that doesn’t mean your journey has ended. It’s only begun. You’re shortchanging yourself if you don’t validate that the labor hours are schedulable, which is crucial to achieving an effective schedule.
When seeking to implement the engineered labor standards methodology to generate labor staffing demand hours, you must have a well-structured validation process. It includes not only the validation of the hours generated by the standards, but also the placement and spread of those hours. After all, if the labor demand is not in the right place, and the hours are not schedulable, then most definitely the journey won’t be successful.
A well-defined hours validation process has multiple steps
The first step is to generate “raw” engineered hours which are work content hours. These hours are the foundation for the transformation that will occur throughout the next steps. To generate these hours, the following considerations must be taken into account:
- Standards development: Create all the operations assigned to the employees and managers based on the Basic MOST methodology (or any other time study method.) These operations are carried out in two main groups, fixed and variable operations.
- Store-specific attributes: As is well known, each store is different from the others. Some of these differences might be store size, sales volume, offerings, etc.
- Operation frequency: It is necessary to determine the month, week or day that the operation must be performed. A good example of this would be the deep cleaning of the shelves in dry grocery. If this operation will be performed only on the first Monday of each month, the hours generated by that operation should only be scheduled for the specific day.
- Identify where the labor is being completed: Assign the operation to the department responsible for completing the work. Understanding the like skillsets of each operation will help organize the operations in a way that makes sense when scheduling the labor hours.
These considerations are of utmost importance to generate “raw” engineered hours that represent the specific needs of each store. However, these hours are only the labor required to perform all the tasks assigned to the employees and managers to maintain the store as expected. This step only gives us an overall picture of the areas and processes that use most of our labor.
The hours validation must continue through a deeper labor analysis
The next step in an hours validation process takes the “raw” engineered hours through a deeper labor analysis. Additional staffing hours may be needed to meet service directives. In that case, staffing hours adjustments must be applied to the engineered hours to satisfy the gap in hours needed for scheduling. To validate these amalgamated hours, the following considerations must be factored in:
- Minimum expectation of service coverage: This includes minimum requirements such as:
- At least one cashier from store open to close
- Meat case service until 7:00 p.m. nightly
- Floral coverage from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily
- Opening and closing hours of specific labor or departments: This allows labor tasks to be placed at specific times of the day.
- Queue (in-line service requirements): Some retailers promote service guarantees that require a cashiered lane to be opened to support specific queue lengths.
If any of the above staffing considerations are applied to your staffing model, a thorough validation of these “all in” hours must be completed. How many hours were added to the engineered labor standards time to accommodate the need to meet customer expectations? Are the hours manageable while keeping the integrity of the engineered hours? These questions must be answered before moving forward in the hours validation process.
The final step
The final step along this process ensures not only accuracy of hours but the placement of those hours throughout the day in a way that can be supported in scheduling. Equally as significant as the total number of hours is whether the hours are schedulable. The placement of the hours is often referred to as the labor demand or staffing demand. The labor hours are grouped together into labor tasks that are assigned to employees for the purpose of scheduling. The labor demand must be reviewed and assessed for schedulability before building a schedule.
Some considerations in this step of the hours validation journey include:
- Are the labor task hours spread throughout the day based on when the work needs to be performed?
- Are the labor tasks spread between the department open and close hours?
- Is there a significant demand gap in labor tasks; Minimums or cross-department LT linking needed?
- Are the labor tasks too granular for scheduling?
Whether it has been years since your engineered hours have been refreshed or you have made recent updates to standards and operating time, can you say that you have validated the hours beyond this work? If you have not considered a full hours validation to ensure that the work hours are placed in the right place, at the right time, and are able to be scheduled in the most efficient way, use the steps above to guide you along that process. Only once you have validated hours from start to scheduling, can you be sure that the journey to an effective schedule is complete.