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3 Ways Bid Shifts Help Businesses Deal with Fair Workweek

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In this post, we present 3 ways that bid shifts help with fair workweek. Fair workweek initiatives are gaining momentum across the nation. Over the past few years, legislators in CA, IL, NY, OR, and PA have been called to pass laws that protects workers’ rights to a fair workweek. The laws differ by locality, but in general, they aim to make work more predictable for hourly workers. Depending on where you do business, you might also hear the terms predictive scheduling or secure scheduling.

Regardless of what they’re called, there’s no denying that fair workweek laws place heavy burdens on employers, especially in retail and food service. The laws typically mandate that work schedules be posted weeks in advance. The laws also require employers to pay out costly premiums when they make adjustments to posted schedules. As a result, many employers in fair workweek areas must make drastic changes to how they schedule hourly employees. Changes that they often simply aren’t prepared to make.

As new legislation around fair workweek is introduced, it’s important for employers to consider the benefits of bid shifts. Below, we describe common use cases for bid shifts. We also explain how bid shifts can help you prepare for and overcome some of the difficulties posed by fair workweek.

What are bid shifts?

Bid shifts are shifts on a schedule that don’t get assigned to specific team members. Instead, the shift is opened up to all eligible employees, and those who want the work can “bid” for it. The scheduling manager then decides who gets the shift. Or, employees can claim the shift on a first-come, first-served basis. For convenience, bid shifts are usually facilitated through an online employee scheduling system.

For example, instead of slating Joseph for a closing shift on Friday night, an employer could post the schedule with that shift unassigned and allow a qualified employee to pick up the shift through the company’s online scheduling app. Joseph gets to keep his Friday night plans, and an employee who wants to work gets to do so.

Two common use cases for bid shifts include:

  1. building some flexibility into the work schedule, especially for schedules created a few weeks in advance, and
  2. opening up more shifts to handle unexpected events, such as last-minute catering requests or large party reservations.

What are the benefits of bid shifts?

There are a number of benefits to using bid shifts, from employee retention to preventing expensive legal fees. Let’s take a look at the top three: employee retention, legal compliance, and cost savings.

Benefit #1: Bid shifts improve employee satisfaction and retention.

For employees, bid shifts can be a breath of fresh air. Rather than working extra shifts at the last minute, they have a choice. They can choose to pick up an extra shift, or they can let someone else pick it up. This is a major impetus for the fair workweek movement, but it also benefits employers.

When employers allow workers to opt into extra shifts, the narrative gets flipped. It becomes one where the worker is in control, which can help improve employee satisfaction and retention. Many employees today also expect to be able to accept, decline, or even swap shifts online or from their smartphones. If you don’t provide these conveniences to your staff, chances are good that you’ll lose talent to competitors who do.

In certain areas, the laws require employers to give workers a way to opt into shifts. Employers in New York City and San Francisco, for example, must provide part-time workers the opportunity to pick up extra shifts. (Before hiring on more workers.) Online bid shifts offer an easy way to do so, as the extra shifts are picked up inside the scheduling app. Businesses stay compliant while filling those extra shifts with less effort than before. The scheduling app also keeps an audit trail that protects the business.

Benefit #3: Bid shifts save employers money.

Bid shifts also cost less! With fair workweek, there’s usually some form of penalty for making changes to posted schedules or assigning last-minute shifts. Bid shifts are usually the exception to this rule, as employees opt into these shifts. Thus, bid shifts allow employers to avoid fair workweek penalties while still staying agile in cases of unexpected business needs.

Although a premium here or there doesn’t sound like a lot, the cost of last-minute schedule changes can add up. In a year, a business can lose the equivalent of a luxury sports car or a college education. And if an employer doesn’t track and pay out fair workweek fees, the costs can be much higher.

For all of these reasons, bid shifts are a helpful tool for dealing with fair workweek and retaining hourly workers. In today’s labor shortage, many retailers and food service businesses struggle to meet their labor needs. Bid shifts offer anther way to attract and retain talent.

For more information on fair workweek, how it impacts businesses in retail and food service, and what you can do to stay compliant, check out our Fair Workweek eBook here.

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