Time resource management

​The term time resource management is used for a wide range of matters relating to the organisation of labour.

It can relate to the introduction of part-time working patterns in shift work, the devising of a new remuneration system for working outside office hours, optimisation of the staff contracts mix, modernisation of the regulations concerning working hours and time-related allowances in collective labour agreements, or measures to increase the organisation’s flexibility. Nevertheless, in all cases it concerns work, time and people – for the relationship between those three elements determines the effectiveness and flexibility of the organisation.

From an organisational point of view, the main aim of time resource management is to ensure an optimal balance between work and personnel. From the point of view of compensation & benefits, the main goal is effective support for flexible working time arrangements.
Time resource management defines flexibility as an organisation’s capacity to adapt quickly to the changing demands placed on it by the market/world in which it operates. Organisations are increasingly expected to be flexible in meeting customers’ demands, coping with fluctuations in production and in providing services. HR-policy must be sensitive to, and prepare for, the different phases of an employee’s life. Over the years, time outside work has become more important and employees want more opportunities to combine their working and private lives. Part-time is becoming increasingly common and nowadays employees wish to plan their working hours more and more on an individual basis.
Partly as a result of these developments, together with the influence of an increasingly technology-based economy and ever greater individualisation, fixed work-days and working weeks (and the corresponding standard arrangements for working hours) are often no longer effective. When the focus shifts from an employee’s availability to the necessity of his or her actual presence then an increased flexibility in working hours is usually required. Time resource management takes the interests of both employer and employee into consideration, making well-balanced solutions possible from which both parties benefit.
Time resource management is used in all sectors of the economy. Whether in catering and tourism, health-care, industry, retail or the (semi) public sector, time resource management is the right instrument for organisations needing to balance the demand and supply of personnel.

Issues

• How can we use working-time schedules to ensure that production and stock building are more effectively balanced?
• In our company there are moments we have huge fluctuations in workload and at other times it’s no fluctuations at all.
• We want to make less use of temporary staff.
• We’re burdened with a reservoir of unused paid leave.
• What is a normal shift-allowance?
• Our employees want to organise their own working-time schedules. Is that possible in our company?
• If employees no longer work the same schedule, how do you calculate a shift-allowance?
• We need less business hours. How do we adjust personnel planning?
• How do we arrive at good vacation planning?
• Is it possible to work part time in shift work?
• What consequences will life phase policy have for our working-time schedules?
• The actual costs of the working-time schedule exceeds budgeted costs. How can we keep costs under control?
The above is a random list of the questions and comments often heard in the context of time resource management (TRM) and their diversity illustrates the range of areas effected by TRM. But precisely because of this diversity, it is advisable to approach the subject as a whole. In this way issues relating to compensation & benefits often take a new direction when TRM is introduced; a fixed shift-allowance that is only applicable to a standard working-time schedule doesn’t work anymore. And the employees’ capacity to plan their own working-hours is closely connected to the organisation’s staffing requirement – not only in quantitative but also in qualitative terms. Fluctuating customer demand leads to continually changing staffing requirements.
The need for an integrated approach is therefore obvious, making it possible to balance strategic and operational demands.

Topics

Time resource management has many facets. Some of these can be illustrated as follows.

Flexibility issues concern both personnel and the organisation. Time resource management helps organisations achieve an optimal balance between internal and external flexibility, in addition to keeping a sharp eye on the availability and efficiency of personnel. Time resource management provides structure to the planning process and transforms uncertainty into predictable systems and patterns.

Working-time schedules come in all shapes and sizes, from collective shift work rotas to individual self-rostering – and everything in between. The trick is to find (and apply) the working-time system best suited to the organisation’s needs and comes closest to providing what employees want. In the process, combinations of methods can be used. The ideal working-time schedule does not exist. Good schedules are realized in consultation between employer and employee. Schedules cannot be set in stone either. The constant changes in society and customer demand result in a dynamic situation and schedules must be sensitive to fluctuating demands for work, employee preferences, legislation and regulations, organisational requirements and the ergonomics of working hours. The right roster is the result of a process in which work and people effectively and efficiently interact with each other.

Working hours are linked to legal rules and in the Netherlands the Working Hours Act is applicable. This Act regulates the way in which working hours and rest time should be organised. These regulations are usually worked out in more detail in company or sector specific collective labour agreements. The Working Hours Act is a complex and, in principle, obligatory set of regulations. Understanding these regulations increases the awareness of the possibilities of the organisation of the labour force. Related page: Relevant legislation  

The annualisation of working hours contributes to a more effective use of labour capacity. A system of variable hours (plus/minus) delivers flexibility for both the employee and the employer and avoids unnecessary overtime. Seasonal factors can be accommodated more easily by having more hours worked in busy periods than in quiet periods. Predictability increases substantially as regards both working time and time outside work.

A shift-allowance matrix is a tool for calculating the total shift-allowance for work performed at irregular times, an allowance that can be given in money and/or time. The shift-allowance matrix offers no information concerning the quality of a working-time schedule, but gives an insight into which hours of the day or week are considered to be irregular or inconvenient and, in the level of the allowance, to what extent. It is an excellent way to ensure the uniform remuneration of working-time schedules containing hours that depart from the norm. Moreover, a shift-allowance matrix is transparent and equal for all employees. When introducing a shift-allowance matrix, the allowance-levels will be influenced by discussions about which working hours are inconvenient from a social and health point of view. 

Related page: Relevant legislation