Flexibility: both a strength and weakness
The FloraHolland flower auction plays a pivotal role within the international ornamental plant sector: as a matchmaker, as an intermediary, and as a knowledge centre. The logistical processes of FloraHolland are very dynamic in nature, and it is an enormous challenge to make sure the right people are working in the right place at the right time, 24 hours a day.
How much flexibility do you need?
The incoming goods department has to deal with considerable peaks and troughs in the workload. It is generally quiet in the middle of the night and in the early morning, but in the afternoon, evening, and start of the night an enormous amount of work has to be carried out. In addition, there are pronounced seasonal trends. FloraHolland wanted to find a solution that would give them the flexibility they needed to cope with all these variables. At the same time, the employees wanted to find a way to align their individual needs with the expected workload. There were also concerns about healthy shift planning, the integration of part-time workers, and arrangements with individual workers.
Training course on working time management
In order to get a clear understanding of all the different issues, representatives from the parties involved went on an in-company training course on working time management. During this four-day course, the participants performed exercises to help them learn how to translate the theory into practical solutions for their own situation. The exercises and the resulting policy choices and solutions were then discussed by the whole group. With the support of a professional planner, the various shift planning scenarios were drawn up and introduced.
Generating backing and support for solutions
This approach guaranteed the backing and support of the staff for the eventual solution. A number of individual modifications were also made to the central solution after it was introduced. Although there was a heated debate about a reduction of the shift allowances, in the end just about everyone was satisfied. The works council was involved in the project right from the start and endorsed the proposed solution.
Flexible solution has positive consequences
The choices made eventually resulted in less work at night time and a visible reduction in the peaks and troughs in the workload. In turn, this led to a reduction of the shift allowance. In addition, there was a much better alignment between the shift times and the available workload, and there was a slight reduction in the core workforce because agency workers can now be used to absorb any unexpected peaks. The ultimate efficiency improvement lead to a drop of around 10% in the labour costs.