Accounting for the Multi-Period Impact of Service When Determining Employee Requirements for Labor Scheduling

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Providing good customer service, inexpensively, is a problem commonly faced by managers of service operations. To tackle this problem, managers must do four tasks: forecast customer demand for the service; translate these forecasts into employee requirements; develop a labor schedule that provides appropriate numbers of employees at appropriate times; and control the delivery of the service in real-time. This paper focuses upon the translation of forecasts of customer demand into employee requirements. Specifically, it presents and evaluates two methods for determining desired staffing levels. One of these methods is a traditional approach to the task, while the other, by using modified customer arrival rates, offers a better means of accounting for the multi-period impact of customer service. To calculate the modified arrival rates, the latter method reduces (increases) the actual customer arrival rate for a period to account for customers who arrived in the period (in earlier periods) but have some of their service performed in subsequent periods (in the period). In an experiment simulating 13824 service delivery environments, the new method demonstrated its superiority by serving 2.74% more customers within the specified waiting time limit while using 7.57% fewer labor hours.
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employee requirements; staffing; levels; service delivery; labor scheduling
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Required Publisher Statement: © Elsevier. Final version published as: Thompson, G. M. (1993). Accounting for the multi-period impact of service when determining employee requirements for labor scheduling. Journal of Operations Management, 11(3), 269-287. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
**This paper was a finalist for the 1994 Second Annual “Best Paper of the Year” given by the David Eccles School of Business.
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