Many companies are retooling the way they hire and schedule new employees. In order to cut cost, many businesses have found hiring and scheduling only part-time workers lowers overhead and helps to stay on budget. “Over the past two decades many major retailers went from a quotient of 70 to 80 percent full-time to at least 70 percent part-time across the industry,” states Burt P. Flickinger III. Flickinger is the managing director of the retail consulting group, Strategic Resource Group.
But retail isn’t the only industry moving toward more part-time workers; hospitality and grocery stores are also making the switch. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released their study in which retail and wholesale industries cut one million full-time jobs since 2006 but have added over 500,000 more part-time jobs. In many ways newer technologies such as scheduling software is speeding up this process. These schedulers process information such as sales, weather, and busy hours to compile a suggested schedule. Karen Luey, who is the CFO of Jamba Juice, says the software, “helped us take 400, 500 basis points out of our labor costs,” and helped them to save millions.
There are some setbacks though. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of part-time employees who want to be full-time has risen to twice that of the 2006 level to 3.6 million in the hospitality and retail industries. The Bureau found that almost 30% of part-time employees wish to be full-time in retail alone; in 2006 only 10.6% wished to become full-time. The Bureau did find a large reduction in part-timers in smaller stores; there are only 3 in 10 part-time employees, with a large majority of the employees being full-timers.
Sometimes the scheduling software can be a little too restrictive. Even employees who give advanced notice on schedule conflicts, time requested off, or those who cannot make a last minute call-in to cover someone else’s shift can see their hours reduced because of the software. This makes the manager still vital in creating a schedule, notes Aron J. Ain: “The budget is how many people you need at a certain time, but the magic is deciding who is to work at what time.” Ain is the chief executive at one of the companies creating schedule software, Kronos.
Overall, the new strategy may work for some companies and hinder others. Employees looking for more flexibility may find the part-time work preferable. The executive vice president of Retail Industry Leaders Association states that, “Many individuals come to retail because it is flexible,” but she knows that in the end, “Happy employees provide better service.”
Greenhouse, Steven. “A Part-Time Life, as Hours Shrink and Shift” The New American Job, Business Day. The New York Times. 10/27/2012.