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Frank Pereira on Retaining Employees by Offering Flexible Schedules

Frank Pereira, Managing Partner of Coleman Consulting Group, LLC, was interviewed on the Mission Matters Business Podcast.

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How did the journey begin?

Coleman Consulting Group, LLC’s Managing Partner, Frank Pereira, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, serving as a nuclear engineer and surface warfare officer with multiple deployments overseas. Frank then went on to serve as the director of one of the Navy’s firefighting schools on Treasure Island while pursuing his MBA at U.C. Berkeley. After eight years in the Navy, married and with a baby on the way, Frank decided to change careers. 

“27 years ago, I saw an ad in the newspaper to work as a ‘consultant engineer.’ Walking into the interview I met our founder, Dr. Coleman.  I joined the company the next day and the journey began,” he says. “I believe so strongly in our mission and methodology that years later, I purchased the company. Since then, I’ve worked with tens of thousands of employees at hundreds of companies, changing people’s lives.”  

The art of retaining hourly workers

“People spend the majority of their waking hours at work or doing something related to work, like commuting.  There is nothing more important to people than their work schedule since we fit all the important parts of our life into the little spaces when we are not at work.  

At CCG, we understand that a work schedule is a whole lot more than a day-on day-off pattern, a start time, or a shift length.  A schedule also includes all those rules around the planned work time, including vacation, overtime, sick time and more. It also includes the processes around those rules. When someone else takes vacation, do I have to cover? When someone calls out sick, will I have to work overtime? These details really matter to employees.

“It’s all about how well you prioritize the schedule and ensure predictability and flexibility for the workers,” he says. “Let’s say you have a worker who has to pick his daughter up from school right after his shift ends, but today he had to work 30 minutes of overtime with no prior notice. If it happens more than once, that employee will likely start looking for work elsewhere.” At Coleman Consulting Group, we focus on designing and implementing predictable schedules to make a win-win situation for both the workers and the company.

Today, companies are seeing the labor turnover percentage rising as high as 200 percent. “You can blame the pandemic or the attitude of the new generation in the workforce for labor shortages in the supply chain, but the reality is, unless you provide workers with flexible and convenient schedules, you are going to battle turnover.”

Whether it’s a customer service agent, police officer, coal miner or factory worker on night shifts, Frank says, everybody needs a schedule that makes sense for them. He explains that you can improve worker retention by 50 percent simply by changing your employees’ schedules.

The Three Circle Approach

After working with hundreds of companies and hundreds of thousands of employees, Coleman Consulting Group has determined that there are three key considerations to developing a scheduling solution: Business Needs, Employee Desires, and Health & Safety. From a business perspective, if the schedule cannot meet demand or overtime costs are skyrocketing, you have to change schedules. Just as important is the need to find a solution that meets employee desires for flexibility and predictability. Finally, the schedule needs to be compliant with health and safety regulations.

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Recognizing the needs of shift workers

The Coleman process begins with figuring out the range of a company’s scheduling possibilities. The CCG team interviews managers and analyzes the employee and production data with the goal of understanding what options are available for a specific organization. Once we understand what ‘can work’, it is time to find out how the people ‘want to work.’ 

“One of the biggest reasons for high turnover is that workers just don’t feel heard,” Frank says. “This is why we ask the workers questions about their preferred work hours and shifts and create options that make sense for the employees themselves. Change within an organization is difficult, and depending on the circumstances, there may be hard choices to make. But by discussing the reasons why, employees can then understand why certain schedules can and can’t work for the business.  Whether it’s a coal mine with restricted hours, a manufacturing plant struggling to meet demand, or a police unit needing to cover 24/7, it is critical for employees to understand the reasons for the coverage and should have the opportunity to weigh in on their ideal shift schedules. Supervisors and managers also need to be on board and supportive of change.

In the end, the solution that fits all Three Circles will be a game changer for the company and the employees. Cost savings greater than 10% are typical. After implementation, cutting employee turnover by more than half is a normal result. 

Who does Coleman Consulting Group work with?

“If you want to reduce costs and increase retention, you will gain value in working with us. We’ve worked with private startup companies that have just six or seven full time workers and we have worked with gigantic companies with thousands of workers such as Exxon, General Mills, General Motors, Toyota Motor Corporation, California DMV, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.” 

Frank explains that success is certain when an employer is open to the possibilities inherent to reworking its approach to scheduling. He recalls a brewing company with high turnover because 75% labor coverage was required on weekends. “Our survey of the employees showed that the workers didn’t mind longer shifts and were willing to work weekends if they were given a big break the next week,” he says. “We put half of the employees on a 12-hour schedule with rotating shifts, so if they worked the weekend, they could look forward to and plan for a four day weekend the next week. Employees were thrilled to enjoy 180 days off a year.”  

While this schedule worked for the day shift, it wasn’t feasible for night shift employees.  “For the night shift, we arranged a schedule where for every 12-hour shift worked, they got a four-five day break to recover.” These new schedules were so effective that even today, the brewery’s employees covet the 12-hour shift. It’s so sought after, it’s only offered to those with more than 10 years with the company.

Making a difference in people’s lives

Pereira tells another story from a manufacturing client, remembering an encounter he had with one of the employees after instituting a scheduling overhaul. “Three months later when I visited the warehouse, a forklift driver came running up to me and excitedly showed me the pictures of his kids. He finally had the time off in his schedule to take them fishing.” Stories like this are why Frank has been with CCG for over 27 years.

Encounters like this with past clients are not uncommon, Pereira notes. “Such engagements reflect how changing schedules can not only earn companies profits through maximizing productivity, but more importantly, proper scheduling can change people’s lives,” he says.  Change can be hard, but when employees thank us months later for giving them a better schedule, the work is very rewarding. 

What’s next for you? 

We continue to find new concepts and schedules that provide flexibility and predictability for workforces. Coleman Consulting Group is currently designing a working model for manufacturing companies where sign-up shifts are available for employees alongside traditional scheduled shifts. With work coverage rules in place, employees will have the option to sign up to work when they want. Talk about a win win!  

To learn more about Coleman Consulting Group, visit coleman-consulting.com or call 888-823-0810.  Please follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook @colemanconsulting