New software and business tools are always exciting. As a manager, you might want to try the newest employee scheduling software to save time, reduce costs, and just make your and your team’s lives easier.
Not so fast.
Enthusiasm quickly fades when you introduce new technology to your team. Some employees might be on board with it, but more often than not, the majority protests or shows no interest in using it daily. This isn't necessarily because the tools are inherently bad or inefficient. Most people don’t like change, even if, in the long run, this new technology makes things better.
The secret lies in how to train employees on new technology. So, let’s talk about automated scheduling software training for employees. In this article, we’ll share how our clients have managed the process of training employees to use OPTAS in the past and achieved incredible results.
Jump right to:
- What is automated staff scheduling software?
- Why is it important to provide appropriate training to employees?
- 12 best practices on how to train employees on new technology
- 1. Explain what automated employee scheduling software is
- 2. Make the benefits clear to your workers and other managers
- 3. Assess your team's needs
- 4. Set clear goals
- 5. Include your staff in finding the right tools
- 6. Hands-on trainings for employees
- 7. Find a team influencer
- 8. Organize interactive workshops and tutorials
- 9. Provide ongoing support and trainings for employees
- 10. Encourage feedback and address concerns
- 11. Use incentives
- 12. Monitor progress and measure success
- A use case of training employees in the healthcare sector
- Ensuring communication between teams
What is automated staff scheduling software?
To begin with, let us explain what we mean when we say OPTAS is an automated/AI-based employee scheduling software.
Automated workforce scheduling software is a digital solution designed to optimize employee work schedules. Mid-sized and large teams use tools like that to ease the challenges of rotating schedules, error detection, compliance with labor law, and registering employee preferences.
You see, making schedules for over 100 people isn’t a walk in the park. You must find enough employees to cover all shifts, not overbook them, and calculate the days they work on holidays, weekends, nights, and other non-standard shifts.
Automation does all that for you. You don’t need to waste hours or days to schedule your team because, with an automated employee scheduler, you only need to enter a few lines of data, set rules, and press make a schedule button.
Now, you know the benefits of automated employee scheduling, but how can you introduce this new technology to your team?
Most schedule coordinators use Excel or, worse yet, a piece of paper to plan shifts for their teams. Despite its inefficiency, your staff is used to manual scheduling, and changing the way you manage your team can be a long and complicated process.
Why is it important to provide appropriate training to employees?
You might think that employee scheduling software is mainly for you. After all, you are the one who spends days scheduling people. But new software changes the entire scheduling process within your organization. It automates employee preference registration, attendance tracking, notifications, communication, and payroll. If your staff isn’t on board, it just won’t work.
Why is it important to train employees:
- Everyone should know how to use the scheduling software for it to bring the most benefits.
- The untrained staff makes more mistakes, damaging your overall scheduling strategy.
- Growing resentment in your team. If your workers can’t see the benefits, they won’t use it.
- Data discrepancies arise when only a few employees religiously track their attendance, while others register in the system once or twice. This leads to inconsistent statistics and reports.
If this sounds familiar, don’t lose hope. After working with many clients, we’ve discovered the 12 best employee training strategies that work wonders to bring your team on board to use new tech tools.
12 best practices on how to train employees on new technology
1. Explain what automated employee scheduling software is
A lot of automation is done using artificial intelligence (AI). However, many people hold preconceived notions that AI is bad. All you hear in the media are doomsday scenarios, deepfake technology impersonating celebrities to scam people, or AI stealing jobs.
So, when you’re ready to try AI-based employee scheduling software, likely not everyone will be fond of it. But it’s important to understand that AI optimizes and automates tasks to make everyone’s lives easier, not to replace people. As of now, this technology can’t function without the people who control it.
Automation is a great tool that makes employee scheduling easier, faster, and more accurate. If you explain AI in this sense, people will be more keen on trying it.
Instead of focusing on emotional headlines in media, clear fears by relying on statistics and data on how AI can benefit your company, managers, and employees.
2. Make the benefits clear to your workers and managers
‘Oh, okay, so it’s just another software?’ What else can you expect from your team when yet again they need to adopt a new technology?
Instead of stating it as a fact, let your team know why automating schedules is important and what direct benefits your team gets out of it.
For example, an automated employee scheduler benefits employees because:
- It makes fair schedules. The software divides busy and slow shifts evenly, so no single employee needs to work on weekends or night shifts all the time.
- Easy shift swaps. Staff can see relevant schedules and request swaps without ruining the entire monthly schedule.
- Easy access. Workers can access schedules on their phones and receive notifications when the schedule is ready or when relevant changes occur.
- Fair salaries. If someone needs to work overtime, the system registers this information to include it in the next timesheet for payroll to pay a fair salary.
Many experts have used this strategy in the past. Keri Higgins Bigelow, LivingHR, Inc. says that this step is the most important in the whole training process, ‘Gather employee input early and often in any major technology change. They will readily adapt to the change when they see why the current platforms aren’t serving the needs of the business. Communicate the “why” and the “how” as much as possible to gain accelerated adoption.’
3. Assess your team's needs
Your needs might be different from those of your team. Most of the time when training employees on new tech, workers want simple solutions that show results immediately.
For instance, maybe they need a system that allows communication to streamline their requests and make sure their shift swaps don’t go unnoticed. Or perhaps your team wants a system that makes fairer schedules.
Ask your team’s input to find tools that offer similar functionality.
4. Set clear goals
List the main pain points you have as a schedule coordinator and then ask the same thing of your team. Match the pain points to find common goals. Setting goals allows you to evaluate the progress later to see if the automated scheduling tool satisfies your expectations.
For example, your pain point might be that you spend too much time making schedules each month. Your goal out of this could be to reduce scheduling time by 60%, by the 3rd month of using the new software.
Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based) goals makes it easier to measure and achieve them.
If the software of your choice doesn’t deliver the desired results, you can look for alternatives so as not to waste money on something that’s not working.
5. Include your staff in finding the right tools
One of the best ways to show employees your appreciation is to include them in the decision-making processes. Select several automated scheduling software options and show them to your administration or other enthusiastic staff members.
Let them do their own research, and spot the benefits and shortcomings of each service provider. Not only does this approach take the pressure off you to choose the right tool, but employees can pick software that suits their needs.
6. Hands-on trainings for employees
An automated employee scheduling system is a long-term commitment. So before you make a purchase, request a trial. At OPTAS, we always arrange the first discovery call to see if our solution could benefit a company.
Even if you try it once, navigating the system can tell a lot whether it works for your team or it doesn’t. What we sometimes see working with clients is that people can be overconfident with their skills. Even if you’re tech-savvy and deal with software solutions every day, you still benefit from hands-on training and working side-by-side with the service provider.
If you skip training, you are likely to spend more time figuring out the system and finding the right features.
Try it yourself to see if it automates your work, is clear, and is easy to use. Think if you could see yourself using this tool daily without trouble.
It’s also helpful to invite a few team members to give their two cents. They can point out things that work or don’t from their side. The more employees try the system, the better they understand it and can later on spread the word to other staff members. While you’re on a call with the service provider they can explain and clear any doubts you or your team has.
7. Find a team influencer
In every team, some people stand out as natural leaders. Everyone likes them as they have a positive influence on the whole team. We call these people team influencers. They can help you get other employees to try and use new tools.
The key is to find a positive and enthusiastic person that others tend to look up to. Make sure they have spare time, are interested in trying this new tool, and are somewhat tech-savvy. We often see with our clients that this strategy works best.
Team influencers spread the word and soon everyone wants to try the new tech. This person can also help you dedicate some training tasks as they answer questions employees have about the product to help them learn faster.
8. Organize interactive workshops
Before you install an automated employee scheduling system, make sure the provider company offers comprehensive tutorials on how the system works and its updates.
Look for software providers who organize interactive workshops and release tutorials to cover all parts of using their digital solution. Interactive workshops work similarly to demo trials, but during workshops, you get to see the newest updates and all the features the system offers.
At OPTAS, we organize interactive workshops for our clients. But we want you to learn as much as possible and not waste your time. That’s why during the workshop, we ask questions, such as: how do you usually make schedules, what rules do you follow, and what scheduling module do you use?
After knowing this information, we can already generate an actual schedule. This way, we help you discover all the features, see how you use the system, and determine where we can work together to make it easier for you and your team.
We recommend having some people from your team attend the workshops and then report to others. This way, no information gets lost, and it’s always better to hear news from people you already work with.
9. Provide ongoing support and trainings for employees
Implementing new tech in your company is a continuous process. When employees get used to scheduling software, a new update comes and everything seems to fall apart again.
Make sure you offer timely support and resources for your team to be on top of all system updates.
Attend online seminars organized by the software company and then organize meetings to onboard the rest of the team.
It’s also helpful to have learning material like blog posts and videos available. Your staff should have access to customer support in case they have an issue with the tool that must be solved pronto.
Simplify everything by creating a shared document where you put system updates and share videos and other learning material from the service provider for everyone to read.
10. Encourage feedback and address concerns
Make sure your team knows they can always come to you when they have a concern. Dealing with technology can be daunting, especially for less tech-savvy employees. If some workers are not as good with new tools, they might feel embarrassed to even ask for help, limiting their progress using a new scheduling platform.
Let them know that you offer a safe space to experiment, try, and fail, but most importantly to ask questions.
Listening to your team’s feedback can be a great way to evaluate the efficiency of your new software. If after all the training and onboarding, you receive a lot of negative feedback, perhaps, you need to look into an alternative.
11. Use incentives
If nothing else works and your team is reluctant to start using new automated scheduling software, you can always try incentives. Encourage people to use new tools by giving some sort of benefits. For example, for employees who register their arrival and departure times accurately for the entire quarter, you can give an extra paid vacation day, or add a bonus to their salary.
Statistics show that employee incentive systems are very effective. They can increase employee productivity by 22% and even boost business revenue by 44%. It’s a tried and tested method to get your team on board with new technology.
12. Monitor progress and measure success
Your team and managers use scheduling tools daily. They’re the ones who know whether it works or not. Monitor their progress to notice if you’re moving closer to the goals you set in the beginning.
Perhaps you planned to reduce the time spent on scheduling, and you noticed that implementing the scheduling software cut the process in half. If your employees emphasized the need for a system that allows better communication, track whether they missed fewer shifts due to improved communication.
A use case of training employees in the healthcare sector
The problem with many hospitals is that their work is very hectic, employees work across multiple departments, and communication gets lost. On top of all that, most hospitals employ many different professionals and have various age and interest groups.
Onboarding everyone to try something new can be, to say the least, challenging. However, that wasn’t the case with one of our first clients, Šiauliai Hospital. It’s one of the biggest and most modern hospitals in Lithuania, managing over 2000 doctors, nurses, technicians, and other healthcare workers.
Šiauliai Hospital is a great example of how onboarding team influencers was effective in spreading the word about OPTAS automated employee scheduling software. We worked extensively on training the administration to use OPTAS and then we asked them to report their learnings to their teams.
We couldn’t train over 2000 employees all at once, so we agreed with the hospital to break the training process into 5 parts, as unloading too much information at once is ineffective and exhausting. In the first stage, we onboarded only the main departments most interested in trying OPTAS. Then we moved on to other departments and employees.
Each week, we dedicated one hour to teaching different OPTAS features and processes. To consolidate the information, responsible employees got access to the actual system where they had to do homework after each onboarding session.
We also performed trainings for employees responsible for IT procedures. During these sessions, we explained how the scheduling software works on a more technical level.
First, we started slowly by introducing OPTAS only in a few departments. It took only two steps before employees in other departments started asking when they would get a chance to try this new scheduling system.
Ensuring communication between teams
One of the key strategies that worked for Šiauliai Hospital and other clients was creating a live chat where our consultants, hospital administrators, and other hospital workers could chat about the scheduling software. Instead of sending emails and losing information in the process, they could get answers instantly either from us or their colleagues.
Soon, we noticed that the hospital staff could find all the necessary answers by themselves without our help. That’s when we knew team training was a success.
In a few months, the entire hospital was using automated employee scheduling to reduce the time and human resources spent on creating manual schedules.
Final words on how to train employees on new technology
If the only thing stopping your business from adapting new tools is the fear that your team will struggle with technology, we hope that these employee training best practices can put your mind at ease.
Just to recap on how to onboard your team to use technology successfully:
- Explain what automated employee scheduling software is
- Make the benefits clear to your workers and other managers
- Assess your team's needs
- Include your staff in finding the right tools
- Set clear goals
- Hands-on trainings for employees
- Find a team influencer
- Organize interactive workshops and tutorials
- Provide ongoing support and trainings for employees
- Encourage feedback and address concerns
- Use incentives
- Monitor progress and measure success
If you want to know more about automating your employee scheduling, contact us and we’ll schedule a discovery call. This call is all about getting to know your scheduling challenges to find suitable solutions – no commitment necessary.