Three Innovative Ways to Increase Shift Coverage

by | Jul 6, 2021

We are more than a year on from the first wave of Covid-related shutdowns and the global economy is surging ahead. Retail is back with a vengeance and the hospitality industry’s recovery is gaining momentum by the day. This boom has left large employers facing a challenge that will define their success this year: labor is in high demand, workers are in short supply, and filling shifts is harder than it has ever been before. 

The solution to this problem can sound so obvious. Just do a better job of engaging your employees! Make work more appealing! Simple, right? 

The reality is that what organizations need are practical, actionable ways to actually increase shift coverage and keep employees busy in the field. In this blog post, I will shine a light on three ways that you can do exactly that:  

1. Improving visibility around employee schedules will decrease last-minute callouts and absenteeism 

Wouldn’t it be nice if shifts scheduled always matched shifts worked? Of course, your associates have busy lives, and their availability can change at a moment’s notice. The key is to know about it in advance, while there’s time to schedule a replacement – not the morning of the shift, or worse yet 20 minutes into a shift that the associate still hasn’t punched in for. 

Last-minute callouts and no-show absenteeism are the enemy, and preventing them is all about transparency, clarity, and giving employees an opportunity to raise issues while there’s still time to react. Axsium employee mobility partner Crew is one of a handful of innovative new companies that are shaking up the mobile scheduling space. Their easy-to-use interface gives employees direct mobile access to real-time schedules that are fed directly from your WFM system. 

Crew goes one step further too by giving employees the ability to “Request Coverage” by putting a shift that was originally assigned to them on Crew’s Shift Marketplace, giving other associates an opportunity to pick up a shift that may otherwise go unfilled. Not only does this approach increase shift coverage, but it reduces the burden for store managers to scramble at the last minute to email, text, or call-in replacements. 

2. Providing same-day pay can increase enthusiasm for and motivation to pick up shifts 

The last few years have seen an explosion of gig economy jobs that offer instant payouts and faster financial gratification that “traditional” employers could never hope to match. This concept of Earned Wage Access (EWA) enables employees to get paid instantly after completing their shift – no matter the industry or role they work in – and is an extremely compelling benefit for today’s workers, especially those in their 20s and 30s. 

When asked how they feel about same-day pay, one study found that 57% of employees using EWA say they work harder and stay longer at a company that offers on-demand pay. When workers have greater control over their finances and pay, they feel more empowered and enabled in the workplace. This causes them to be more engaged and want to come to work. The bottom line is this: when same-day pay is offered and used as an incentive, shift coverage rates increase by as much as 60%. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking… Isn’t this going to cause a nightmare for payroll? A fair question to be sure, and you may be surprised to hear that not only is the answers no, but it might in fact decrease the amount of payroll administration your organization is responsible for. 

Axsium partner Branch provides EWA at no cost to employers or employees (yes, really!) and works directly with most leading Workforce Management solutions to make getting started a breeze. 

It must be said that this is an approach to increasing shift coverage that does require an element of cross-functional collaboration between operations and payroll, but the upside for both employees and employers can be huge and immediate. 

3. Upskilling and training employees can increase the pool of employees eligible to pick up shifts 

Imagine for a moment that you’re a high-touch specialty retailer that sells both power tools and building supplies. Your associates are your sales experts and their interactions with customers drive up to 85% of all your in-store revenue. The issue? Some associates are experts in building supplies while others are certified in using the tools – but very few know both. 

You’re consistently well-staffed in the building supplies area, but customers looking for tools are being left to fend for themselves and sales are stagnating. What if there was a way to, in less than a month, increase the pool of employees that could sell these products by 20% or more – all without needing to hire a single new employee? 

Another Axsium partner, WorkJam, is making that dream a reality. Over the last several years, WorkJam has pioneered a compelling mobile platform for delivering high-impact training that is as sophisticated and feature-rich as many enterprise-level LMS solutions, but dramatically easier to deploy to the field. With it, your organization can post and assign training materials to specific roles or employee groups, track their progress, gamify completion of certifications by awarding digital badges, and even sync these newly-obtained skills to your WFM system via WorkJam’s many integrations. It’s a fast and effective way to dramatically increase the pool of eligible employees that can pick up shifts. 

These are just a few examples of how our customers are implementing real-world solutions to today’s labor challenges. To learn more about how your organization might do the same, or our exciting Employee Mobility Practice, please reach out to me at I look forward to speaking to you soon. 

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