Web-based system helps employers stay on schedule

John Hildebrand, president of business development for Autopaychecks in Grand Junction, explains a system in which employers build work schedules on computer and send them by e-mail and text messages to all employees at once. Employees in turn send messages to volunteer for open slots or notify employers if they have to miss work. (Business Times photo by Mike Moran)

Business owners and managers can burn a lot of hours juggling work schedules for their employees: setting and revising hours, adjusting for sick days and vacations and accommodating for turnover.

While it’s not possible to abandon scheduling, a new tool offers help in setting schedules and notifying employees.

A Web-based program called ReadySetWork enables employers to build schedules and notify employees of openings for extra hours. They send the information to employees via

e-mail and text messages. Employees in turn send return messages to volunteer for open work slots or notify employers of sickness or emergencies that might prevent them from showing up. Because all employees can view the schedule, they all can see when a slot opens up and when that slot is filled.

“The average return time on a text message is 15 seconds,” said John Hildebrand, president of business development for Autopaychecks, a Grand Junction firm that offers a range of payroll and human resource services. “It was developed for the fast food industry.”

Three McDonald’s restaurants in the area use the system to manage a total of 150 employees, Hildebrand said.

Because fast food restaurants usually employ young workers who use cell phones, the text message option proved to be a good means for fast communication. Fast food businesses often employ large numbers of people and turnover can be high. So one central electronic schedule makes sense for the industry.

It also makes sense for other businesses with complicated schedule grids. A security company in Rifle had difficulty scheduling workers before contacting Hildebrand. “They were struggling with getting people to the right place at the right times,” he said.

“It’s basically a really simple system,” said Jennifer Miranda, office manager for Citadel Security and Investigations. “I can pick who fills a time slot and also keep track of vacations and time off requests.”

Miranda has used the system since mid-April to manage schedules for 63 employees. “This has definitely helped with miscommunication and ability to forget.”

A separate system enables employees to clock in and out from remote locations, but that system requires a mobile phone with global positioning and clock systems. Without GPS, employers wouldn’t be able to tell whether the employee was on the job site when he or she clocked in. The mobile timekeeper system isn’t offered through Autopaychecks, but is on the market now.

To learn more about the mobile scheduling option, you can test it with your own cell phone by logging on to www.autopaychecks.com and clicking on the “mobile schedule” button. Then click on “online schedule login” and choose the three-second demo.