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Could Annualised Hours solve the precarious scheduling issue?

It probably hasn't escaped you that the 'precarious' nature of some forms of employment is a hot topic in the media and the world of workforce planning and management. 

The use of zero hours contracts is under intense scrutiny as it has become central to the operating models of many organisations that experience volatile demand patterns in 24/7 markets.

However, zero hours contracts are just one form of ‘precarious’ employment.

According to a new study by Oxford and Cambridge Universities, they represent just the tip of the iceberg in what is being described as ‘precarious scheduling’.

Dr Alex Wood of Oxford University said:

“the past decade has seen a fragmenting of working time, as firms have saved costs by increasing shift flexibility through a variety of mechanisms”.

According to the research, nearly 15 per cent of the workforce (4.6 million people) are the victims of ‘precarious scheduling’.

This term refers to situations where working hours are inconsistent, meaning employees cannot make plans and managers are cutting hours and therefore income.

This is widely known to contribute to higher stress and anxiety levels for employees who are unable to plan their lives socially or financially as a result.

Whilst the research is current, the issue it identifies is nothing new.

Any imbalance between labour supply and demand creates short-term, reactive workforce planning and management decisions that lead to negative consequences for the organisation and its workforce.

Annualised Hours and Demand-Led Rostering systems have a key role to play in improving employee work-life balance, whilst ensuring a business can meet demand and achieve required service levels.  

Crucially these approaches to organising Working Time provide certainty, fairness and flexibility for both the organisation and the employees.

Understanding demand, designing shift patterns that are aligned to volatility, and effective management of rosters provides more visibility and the ability to forward plan effectively.

Demand can therefore be met predominantly using the contracted hours of the core workforce, with shifts planned more accurately and resource deployed only when it is needed.

A well-administered system will give employees more predictable working hours and patterns which are suited to different life-stages and lifestyles.

They can provide certainty about which days they may need to be flexible; adequate notice around working requirements, an equitable distribution of shift pattern types and provide arrangements to support different demographics.

And whilst hours worked can vary (as they are dictated by demand), a yearly salary is paid on a regular basis.

You can read about this resourcing framework in our report ‘Making Annualised Hours work for the UK’.

If you’d like to find out more about how Annualised Hours and Demand-Led Rostering systems could benefit your workforce, click here to book a free one-to-one consultation with one of our experts now.

For over 25 years we have provided the insight and technology needed to develop modernised working patterns that support productivity, service levels and work-life balance.

We can help you adopt systems and software that help avoid the financial and reputational impact of ‘precarious scheduling’.

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