About work time configuration

Before you start creating contracts to define the agent work time it is important that you understand how the contracted work time is calculated for the agents. This topic also explains a few key parameters like schedule period, fixed and hourly employment types, full-time and part-time employments, fixed and flexible work time and days off.

Calculation of work time

The agent's contracted work time for a schedule period is calculated based on the combination of their contract, contract schedule and part-time percentage.

  • Contract—Defines for example the type of contract, the average work time per day and if there is any flexibility for the target time. The contract also includes several validations that regulate how the work hours are distributed within the period.
  • Contract schedule—Defines how many working days and days off the agent has per week, and which days of the week that are the default days off.
  • Part-time percentage—Defines the percentage of hours that the agent works out of the total hours calculated based on the contract and contract schedule.

Schedule period

The schedule period is the period within which you need to balance the agents target work time. This means that you can optimize the schedule and for example move days off within the schedule period but not between schedule periods.

The length of the schedule period is a defined number of days, weeks or months. Read the examples below and consider what schedule period that would work best for you.

There can be flexibility in the target time. Define on the agent's contract how much flexibility that is allowed.

EXAMPLE   

Equal work hours each week

The agents must always work the same number of hours each week. You can be flexible with shift lengths within the week, but the total number of hours is always the same, week by week. The number of days off per week must also be the same as this affects the number of work hours per week.

  • In this case, set the schedule period to 1 week.
EXAMPLE   

Varying work hours per week, balanced over a 4-week period

The agents work varying hours per week but must reach the set target of work hours within a 4-week period. The agents can work longer hours one week and shorter hours another to meet a varying business need. The number of days off can vary, so that an agent has one day off one week and compensates with three days off another week.

  • In this case, set the schedule period to 4 weeks.
EXAMPLE   

Varying work hours per week, balanced over a monthly period

The agents work varying hours per week but must reach the set target of work hours every calendar month. Because different months have different number of working days, the target time varies depending on the number of working days of the month.

  • In this case, set your schedule period to 1 month.

NOTE   Only use a monthly schedule period if you must balance the agents' work hours within the calendar month. You can still publish the schedule for a calendar month at a time even if you use a weekly schedule period.

Fixed and hourly employment types

There are three employment types; Fixed staff normal work time, Fixed staff day work time and Hourly staff. When scheduling agents, these types are handled differently. Read the descriptions for these employment types below and consider which employment type to use for different groups of agents.

The Fixed staff normal work time employment type is for employees whose contract states that they work a fixed number of hours for the schedule period and with a fixed number of days off. Agents with this type of contract are scheduled to fulfill that contract, no more, no less, regardless of the staffing situation. This employment type is suitable for both week-based and monthly schedule periods.

The Fixed staff day work time employment type works almost the same way as Fixed staff normal work time. The only difference is that the target time for the schedule period is calculated based on the average work time per day and the number of available working days. If you schedule an additional day off, the target contract time for the period is recalculated.

The Hourly staff employment type is for employees that are scheduled only when they are needed. If needed, add a limit for the minimum number of scheduled hours for each period to ensure they work enough to keep their skills up.

NOTE   The term Hourly staff does not refer to the payment structure. Employees with a fixed contract can also be paid by the hour. These employment types only refer to how the agents are scheduled.

Full-time and part-time employments

A full-time employee is an agent with a contract that is considered an FTE. There might be more than one type of full-time, for example if there are employees in two countries that have different work rules. One group works 7:30h per day and the other group works 8h per day.

A part-time employee is an agent who works on a reduced contract. Either because they were hired on less time, or because they were hired on full-time but is temporarily on a part-time leave. This is often true for new parents who have a part-time leave for childcare.

Part-time employees either reduce the average daily work time with a certain percentage or concentrate the weekly work time on fewer days than a normal full-time, for example by adding an extra day off every week.

Consider which groups of agents you have and what contracts, contract schedules and part-time percentages you need to create. See the configuration examples below for details.

Flexible work time

The contract rules will never be broken by the automatic scheduling process. If your agents work flexible hours, for example if there is a labor agreement that allows for annualized hours, this needs to be configured.

One option is to build this flexibility into the contract. Set a tolerance for the contract time and if needed also for the number of days off. Optimize schedules to make use of the tolerance and adjust the staffing levels according to the forecasted resource need. If you are overstaffed, the flexibility is used to schedule shorter shifts or more days off. If you are understaffed, the flexibility is used to schedule longer shifts or and replace days off with shifts.

Another option is to override the period work time for the schedule period manually for the schedule periods where the target time is different than what is calculated based on the contract. This is done either by adding a seasonality factor to increase or decrease the target time for the schedule period or by overriding the number of hours per day or the number of days off for this schedule period. Carry over the deviation from the normal target time to the next schedule period to keep track of the hours worked over several schedule periods.

The number of days off affect the total work time for a schedule period. See the Days off section below for details.

Days off

The contract schedule is used as a default schedule. It indicates the number of working days per week and implicitly also the number of days off per week. The non-working days in the contract schedule are the default days off. This is used for example when adding a full week of leave to a week that is not yet scheduled. The full week is blocked for scheduling but only the days that are default working days are counted as absences.

If your contact center is open all days of the week, the contract schedule still states the average number of days off per week for an agent. When scheduling, the days off are distributed according to the contract schedule, unless there is a restriction to place them on other days of the week. During optimization of the schedule, shifts can be moved to the days that by default are days off, and the days off to other days of the week.

Define a flexibility of the number of days off on the agent's contract to achieve a flexible number of days off between different schedule periods.

Configuration examples

There are multiple ways to use the work time settings to reach the wanted result. The examples below cover some of the most common combinations and how to configure them.

Fixed staff with a fixed period contract time

The agents have a fixed target time and a fixed number of days off that are the same for each schedule period.

  • Set the employment type on the contract to Fixed staff normal work time.
  • Only set a low target tolerance if this is needed to reach the period target time with the existing shift lengths.

Fixed staff with a flexible period contract time

The agents have a flexible target time where the number of working days and work hours differ between scheduled periods. They are scheduled more time when there is a high resource need and less when the resource need is lower.

  • Set the employment type on the contract to Fixed staff normal work time.
  • Set a target tolerance to define how many hours the target time can deviate.
  • Set a days off tolerance to define how much the days off can deviate from the contract schedule.

Part-time staff working shorter shifts

The agents have the same number of working days and days off as their full-time colleagues, but they work shorter shifts. This can be achieved in two ways.

Alternative 1

  • Create specific contracts for all part-time agents that define their exact average work time per day.
  • Set the part-time percentage to 100%.
  • Use the same contract schedule as for full-time agents.

Alternative 2

  • Assign the full-time contract to the part-time agents.
  • Create specific part-time percentages to adjust the average daily work time for these agents.
  • Use the same contract schedule as for full-time agents.

Part-time staff working fewer days per week

The agents work the same length shifts as their full-time colleagues but have one more day off per week.

  • Use the same contract as for full-time agents.
  • Create a specific contract schedule, with 4 working days and 3 days off.
  • Set the part-time percentage to 100%.

Hourly staff

The agents do not have a contract target time for the schedule period. They are scheduled when there is a resource need.

  • Set the employment type on the contract to Hourly staff.
  • You must set a contract schedule and a part-time percentage, but they will not affect scheduling for these agents.

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