Labor Model Transparency

By Dan Bursik
VP, Best Practices

“What constitutes a good labor model?” is a question I have been asked many times. A host of features and functions come to mind crossing over many approaches I have used and seen used to quantify time earned for a store. A good labor model is never a finished product but, instead, it lives in a state of perpetual refinement with efforts to reflect every new merchandising program, service nuance, and facility enhancement based on accumulated knowledge or experimentation in any business or retail format.

So, of all the things that we as Labor Managers have tried to engineer into our labor models, what is most important? Let’s reflect on some nominees:

The advent of standards engineered using MOST was clearly a huge leap forward from time studies or reasonable expectancies.

The incorporation of store specific characteristics to modify standards to unique physical characteristics, equipment, distances, or process variations is certainly a contender.

Better data inputs, and making melded standards dynamic to their constituent parts rather than being cast at defined frequency levels which the labor team may or may not have bandwidth to revisit and refresh very often. Yes, that is clearly a breakthrough too.

More robust systems to support labor modeling, more advanced engineering tools, suitable database design, capacity for effective dating; system-based reliability gained as labor modeling migrates from excel and access to dedicated and specialized Labor Management systems.

The standards, the characteristics, the data, and the database are all areas we have upgraded as time and capital funding has allowed us the opportunities to advance. But my choice is for what matters most is something else; something simpler and more powerful: your commitment to make your labor model truly transparent to your operators.

Like any tool, a labor model has a purpose. Baked into the outputs for supporting budgeting, period planning, weekly scheduling, and performance management a Labor Model’s most important purpose is to help its organization understand labor as a valued resource, as the means to support the sales and service mission of the organization.

I’ve seen labor models that I might describe in a range from fairly simple to very complex, but the differentiator for me is how that model is put to use. Whether your labor model has the best bells and whistles or not, make sure through your actions that it excels in its most critical attribute: being highly transparent to store operations. Do that, and a good labor model can produce great things, especially helping good people run great stores.