How Giving Employees a Say In Their Work Schedule Can Make a Difference

A talented workforce is the number one differentiator that can set you apart from your competitors. Whether you’re a retailer trying to deliver a great in-store experience or a hospital aiming to provide the best patient care, your workforce is your biggest differentiator for success.

Instead of using technology simply to reduce workforce costs, smart organizations are using it as a tool to engage employees, keep them happy and reduce turnover. The following excerpt from my new book, Your Last Differentiator: Human Capital, explains how one hospital is doing just that, and the amazing results they have experienced.


What progressive employers have done is to provide increased transparency as to what the workload is and to simultaneously increase their trust levels in employees.

One example of this is that rather than having a manager or automated scheduler figure out all the last-minute changes to work schedules with no way of understanding the personal impact on all of their affected employees, these organizations are letting the employees reschedule themselves. By increasing the ability to communicate the need for coverage to all available employees and providing a method for them to instantly accept open shifts, employees who want more work can take it, and those who need to get out of a shift are able to find coverage, reducing their stress.

One organization that has been an early adopter of this approach is Cohen Children’s Medical Center. The cost of turnover led them toward self-scheduling. Losing a nurse cost the hospital about $150,000 in coverage, recruitment, and time in getting the replacement nurse up to speed. Cohen realized that by sharing control of the work schedule through a mobile scheduling application, nurses could swap shifts more effectively.

Patients benefited through better coverage. The organization benefited as nurse turnover dropped from 5% to 3% and nurses gained more control over their lives.

“When your workforce is engaged, they’re happy with the days they’re working; they understand the practices, policies, and expectations of the organization; and they’re smarter and safer.” — Carolyn Quinn, Chief Nursing Officer, Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

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A quote from leadership is helpful, but what do employees really think? Potential candidates looking for a new job or even a patient looking for reviews about the hospital might take a look at Glassdoor to see what employees think. As it turns out, Cohen and its CEO are reviewed positively. Not every review is glowing, but overwhelmingly, Cohen’s employees and patients post positive, realistic comments, boding well for the organization and how it’s managing its workforce. It’s also a great indication that Cohen is taking good care of patients as well.

This is just one example of how an organization has changed its relationship with employees. Empowering them to make decisions that work well for both leads to improved results.

Reducing the stresses that a job puts on an employee’s personal life also provides benefits to the employer in terms of attracting more and better candidates, and enjoying higher productivity levels and lower turnover. Creative organizations have been able to improve engagement while also improving operations. Henry Ford even shared those benefits financially with his employees.

Reducing control and trusting employees to make the best decisions for the organization and themselves is a technique that improves outcomes for both organizations and employees. It is clear that organizations can compete effectively in the most challenging of markets by thinking creatively about the relationship between people and work and trusting employees to make good decisions when treated with transparency, trust, and respect.

Gregg Gordon has been helping companies and employees achieve optimal outcomes related to efficiency and engagement for more than thirteen years. Beginning with the application of the Lean philosophy to workforce practices, Gordon helped manufacturing companies gain high levels of employee engagement while simultaneously improving operational excellence. In his first book, Lean Labor, A Survival Guide for Companies Facing Global Competition, Gordon provided a roadmap for global manufacturers to achieve this in a step-by-step process.

Currently, Gordon leads Kronos’ data science practice and in this role, he focuses on applying data to understand the relationship between a company, its employees, and customers across different industries. His experience has shown him how a company’s operational processes have a direct impact on workforce engagement and employee engagement and where changes can be made for improvements. These learnings led to the development of his book, Your Last Differentiator: Human Capital.

Gordon earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in business administration from Boston University.




2 Comments on “How Giving Employees a Say In Their Work Schedule Can Make a Difference

  1. This would be a good idea in retail as long as the policy is to swap shifts. My daughter works in retail and if she needs someone to cover her shift, many times the only option is for her to give up her shift, because other employees are willing to take her shift to get more hours, but they don’t want to give up their own shift. Management allows this.

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