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Kronos Incorporated announced today that the world’s leading home furnishing retailer IKEA has commenced the rollout of the employee scheduling application within Kronos for Retail in the UK. The application is a fully automated employee scheduling system that analyses historical trading data, projected sales figures, labour standards, and employee availability before creating the optimum staffing schedule for each department. The system will be integrated with IKEA’s existing Kronos solution for time and attendance. Optimised scheduling will be available at all 17 IKEA stores in the UK.

Store optimisation continues to be a priority for IKEA and optimised scheduling will enable the organisation to exactly match its staffing levels to the trading requirements at different points of the day and week. Using the Kronos system, IKEA will be in position to ensure that not only does it have the right number of staff over the week, but that staff are always in the right place at the right time to match the unique trading patterns of each store.

IKEA has already started using Kronos’ scheduling application in the checkout areas of some stores. Historical trading data at 15-minute intervals, dating back five years, has been transferred from the POS system into Kronos, along with labour standards data and projected sales figures for the store. Staff availability and shift preferences have also been input directly into Kronos, enabling the optimised scheduling tool to create the best fit schedules for each store.

IKEA has noted a number of benefits to date. Queue times are shorter, there have been improvements in the productivity of checkout staff, and it is easier to see any problems with under- or over-staffing. Schedules are optimised to take into account peak and quiet times, and Kronos allows the organisation to now consider employee preferences when creating the schedules. Some unnecessary shifts have been removed in the goal to achieve schedules that mirror the unique trading environment of each store. IKEA has also been able to move staff more easily between departments such as checkout and returns when required and the feeling is that scheduling at IKEA has become more of an exact science, supporting the company’s goal to create a highly efficient store environment that is able to meet customer needs effectively.

Kronos allows remote access and greater visibility to store operations information. Under or overstaffing can be spotted immediately where the optimised schedule has not been followed to the letter, and the manager can take remedial action immediately.

The company’s existing Kronos system gives IKEA complete visibility to employee working hours and the scheduling application takes this one step further by highlighting things about the business that were previously more difficult to view. For example, “October Half Term” is a busy trading period and IKEA can now more easily see where the staffing gaps are. This was difficult before Kronos. Kronos was selected following a thorough vendor search and based on the system being intuitive, easy to use and able to support IKEA sales managers to free up their time to concentrate on the business.

From August 2008 all departments in all IKEA stores will be scheduling using Kronos, and where appropriate and practical, departments will also be using the fully optimised schedules.

Commenting on the contract, Keith Statham, Managing Director, Kronos UK said, “Retailers work hard to optimise everything from the supply chain to store merchandising, yet optimising every aspect of managing the workforce is often overlooked. I’m delighted that IKEA has taken this step to automate and optimise employee scheduling. It’s the step that all retailers need to take to truly create an efficient store environment and keep their customers happy.”