One of the first things The Gap did to improve the scheduling process for hourly employees, and therefore ultimately improve customer service, was to eliminate what is known as "on-calls," when employees are scheduled to work a shift that can be canceled at anytime, even up to two hours before they begin their shift. This late notice can obviously disrupt the quality of life for the employee, especially for those with children and for anyone counting on the work that affects their living budgets.
The second thing The Gap did was to require that the employees' schedules be posted two weeks in advance. Both of these steps were implemented in all of the company's almost 2,500 stores. These changes, studied in a Harvard Business Review article
, produced extraordinary results. It was found that sales in stores with more stable scheduling increased by 7%, and this in the retail industry that normally hovers around 2%. In addition, productivity of The Gap employees increased by 5%, with an industry average of 2.5% per year recorded between 1987 and 2014.
conducted by the Wharton School of Management found that retailers tend to understaff during peak hours and that if a retailer would increase staffing, sales and profits would increase. The Gap took the study to heart and increased staffing appropriately based on traffic patterns while staying true to its stable scheduling practices. After conducting an initial 35 week experiment before rolling out to all of the company's stores, the Harvard study estimates that The Gap earned $2.9 million as a result of more-stable scheduling.