Recent mistakes from large organisations including George Calombaris’ Made Establishment Group, and 7-Eleven have brought Workforce Management into the spotlight in Australia. Often mistakes are repeated between organisations that are easily avoidable. Here are my top 7 common pitfalls of Workforce Management.

1. Accidental Overtime

In Australia, overtime can occur for a number of reasons and is not just limited to hours worked in a day / week. The reasons include minimum break between shifts, consecutive days worked, and hours worked in a four week period or even a year.

Currently the majority of employees in Australia don’t have systems that flag their overtime triggers in advance and as a result, overtime is paid when a suitable alternative may have been available.

2. Lack of Visibility

As a senior manager at head office, how do you know how much your sites / facilities have rostered to spend next week? Often the only time senior management are aware of overspend or under coverage issues is after they occur, leaving them powerless to react.

3. Unnecessary Manual Process

“In order for that employee to be paid correctly, put a 6 in column 8 then press F7 6 times”.

Often the processes in place to pay people correctly are more complicated than required. These processes are not only expensive to administer but increase the risk of over / under payment.

4. Inefficient Rostering

Under the current retail award (and similar rules exist for other awards / EBA’s), an employee is entitled to a paid break once they have worked 4 hours or more. Therefore if an employee is scheduled to work for 3h 45m they work and are paid 3h 45m. However if they are scheduled for 4h, they only work 3h 50min and are paid for 4h. The number of 4h (or similar shifts) that still exist is surprisingly high and are a waste of a strained wages budget.

5. Non-Compliance

Non-compliance typically comes in 2 forms; legal (i.e. visa breach) or EBA / Award (i.e. incorrect overtime interpretation). With current technology, there should be no reason why non-compliance occurs. The potentials risks to brand damage, staff deportation and large fines, are too great to ignore.

6. No Safety Net

We all make mistakes. There must be a systematic check in place to support early identification and rectification. Systems should warn if you don’t have the right gap between shifts, if you have over rostered visa students, or if you have forgotten to pay overtime. Without these checks, errors will occur and blaming “poor process” is not an excuse in 2017.

7. Not focused on the individual

Average staff turnover in Australia is approximately 18% with some industries / businesses as high as 70+%. Lack of hours certainty, under / incorrect payment, inhospitable rostering practises (such as split shifts), lack of reward for high performing staff and under employment are all contributing factors to loss of high performing staff. Rostering principles can be re-aligned to resolve these issues without having any effect on total labour budgets.

So what?

All these issues are solvable, most likely with the systems you have today by focussing on the following:

  • Automate – Any process, double keying or calculations that can be removed is one less place of error / less management overhead
  • Alert – Create pro-active alerts that provide actionable advice to avoid errors for both on-site and senior management
  • Educate – Make sure your frontline managers understand their key obligations. This doesn’t mean giving them a 200 page EBA and hoping they read it
  • Identify – Generate post checks that find mistakes and educate the manager on how to avoid these issues in the future


Author: Scott Gavens   LinkedIn Logo

Scott is a Workforce Management Solutions expert having worked on optimising businesses and building solutions for more than a quarter of a million employees in over 3,000 customer sites.

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the author/ATEO and do not reflect the view of any current company I’m working for.