Blue Yonder is committed to helping its customers face the unexpected. To provide insights into the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on supply chains around the world, we are delivering a blog series to help anyone looking for support and advice. Our experts, who have spent years in the supply chain industry, share their insights. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has practically transformed the way organizations should operate their businesses overnight. The spread of COVID-19 has resulted in reduced associate availability because of illness, quarantine, or taking care of others. As a result, organizations cannot staff the required number of associates, making it difficult to maintain a steady supply of products, materials, and labor. There has been a rise in overtime so that the organization can meet demand and maintain the supply of needed items.  

In the current environment, how will organizations balance out the financial impact on their businesses and maintain their brand, while adapting to the new norms of work and keeping in mind the health and safety of their associates? To get the business back on its feet, we can consider the below points.

Business Continuity Plan

Organizations need to define a plan for how they will get back to business. This plan should define how the business will reopen and the new operating hours. Once the sanctions have lifted and stores can operate fully, organizations can look to revert the changes done such as short-term demand adjustments. To help organizations better operate during the phased re-openings, they should look to create a department and oversight for safety and health to maintain the hygiene, social distancing, and ensure that the associates are safe and healthy at work.

Investing in technology that supports HR, workforce management and can incorporate thermal-based attendance systems to automate safety can streamline the processing of the information. This investment will not only help in the interim but also longer-term for the business.  

Upskilling Workforce

This is the best time to upskill the workforce and diversify their training that could support multiple roles. By cross-training employees to work in multiple roles can help reduce overtime, spread out workloads, scale to increasing demands, and support gaps of labor shortages. A skills matrix allows employers to quickly see who can cover different roles and where short-term training might be needed to cover shifts.  

Leaders can leverage integrations between labor planning software with their HR teams and learning software so that matching the right employee to the right skill can be automated and they can optimize costs. 

Monitor Overtime and Schedules 

Behaviors have required some organizations to increase their labor needs to meet the demand for increased online orders and pickup at stores. This increase may impact the workload and fatigue of associates. By increasing visibility into associate schedules, employers can better estimate workloads and ensure associates are getting enough breaks and rest.  

Labor Budget

Organizations need to revisit the labor budget. A good budget will help to evaluate the current situation and be better prepared for the future. A labor planner needs to consider the following factors:

  • Cost of overtime
  • Training on new skills and a new way of working
  • Legal regulation on store operating hours
  • Sanitization
  • Tools to monitor the health of associates and customers

COVID-19 can affect businesses for a long time. It is time to start a plan of action now and look for ways to mitigate the impact now and in the future.