CVS Transforms Consumer Health Experience via Workforce Scheduling
It’s been a tumultuous year for retailers, as COVID-19 drastically altered various aspects of business, including how they forecasted and scheduled labor at each of their store locations. This applied especially to pharmacy chains, who have been on the front-line, delivering vital drugs, flu and COVID-19 vaccines, and other supplies and services to the public.
To explore how retailers can thrive in this situation, Reflexis hosted a webinar discussion with CVS Health, an industry leader in pharmacy retail. During it, experts discussed how to optimize labor operations — while remaining compliant with rules and best practices, and despite massive swings in demand and employee and customer stress.
During the event, experts described how intelligent workforce management technology enables accurate labor forecasts and rapid pivots to respond to both regular employee fluctuations and unforeseen events. The main presenter, Andrew Bunton, Senior Director of Enterprise Workforce Management at CVS Health, covered the subject in-depth.
He says: “The year was unprecedented: the number of challenges that were seen in terms of colleague availability were immense. And that’s where we needed to look for our scheduling and staffing tools to really help.”
Ramping up for COVID-19, Flu Season
Managing the workforce for a major retail chain like CVS is innately complex. The company operates 10,000 stores staffed by 300,000 colleagues—4.5 million customers visit CVS pharmacies daily. And with the arrival of the pandemic, optimizing associate schedules without taxing the store and field managers was even more challenging.
In the past year, says Bunton, field leaders coped with “unprecedented chaos” when demand fell off and staffing properly was difficult. Then, between COVID-19 and the flu season, customer demand for services nearly doubled, testing CVS’ commitment to high service levels.
To cope with vaccine needs, the company hired 10,000-plus associates, whom they wanted to train and add to the front-line workforce, without underutilizing existing staff. Additionally, CVS supported 40,000 assisted living and similar facilities to ensure patient populations were immunized.
Solutions for Colleagues, Customers
It has been crucial to maintain quality of service. And a driver to the customer experience is supporting the colleagues in-store with proper scheduling. As Bunton says: “If we expect our colleagues to care for our customers and patients, our colleagues need to make sure they feel cared for, that we’re enabling them for that kind of success. Our number one goal is to make sure we are taking care of our colleagues, that we’re fostering strong employee engagement.”
Field leaders needed to drive associate engagement. But earlier, they faced challenges, particularly when it came to scheduling and payroll. “Our field leaders were actually spending a lot of their time in chasing payroll,” says Bunton. Frequently, it was “like a game of whack-a-mole.” So, it was difficult to ensure the staffing levels were adequate to meet demand.
So, CVS store and field managers leveraged the Reflexis Workforce Management platform to assist with labor budgeting and schedule creation. Store managers have become more proactive in scheduling, Bunton says. “So, less time is spent chasing after the fact and diving into reports,” he explains, “but instead more time is being spent up-front in understanding some of those challenges, approving those, and then having there be no surprises.”
The Right Mix of Associates
Reflexis solutions have helped avoid both overspending and underspending on labor needs. If colleagues want more hours, they can be assigned to stores where there are absences, giving them what they need while easily covering shortages. CVS has also enabled associates to leverage the Reflexis Employee Self-Service application.
This way, associates can both advertise shifts they want to swap and pick up open shifts, subject to managerial approval. If a location needs more associates for additional shifts for, say, flu clinics, managers can configure the Reflexis solution to reflect their needs. The system also offers field managers a complete snapshot of front-line associate staffing levels.
Additionally, Reflexis supports management in the maintenance of proper mandated pharmacist staffing levels. The system enables compliance in all 50 states—even at the municipal level. When writing pharmacy schedules, managers get alerts if the employee mix is off. For instance, the system will flag a potential scheduling situation—such as if there are too many technicians for a single pharmacist to oversee.
For more insight into how you can optimize labor operations, contact us at email@example.com and we’ll set up time to chat.