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How Flexible Scheduling Can Improve Morale

With a willingness to embrace change and evolve, Wilco Stores has found great success and built a strong company culture. TJ Colson, president of Wilco Stores, says the core values of integrity, excellence, respect, accountability, teamwork and community set the tone for the family-like atmosphere. Part of that culture is a true concern for employees and their well-being, Colson says, which is why the company implemented flexible scheduling over 20 years ago.

Many of Wilco’s employees live the same rural farm and ranch lifestyle as their customers and have a passion for the outdoors. Employees want the time outside of work to pursue those hobbies and interests, including raising animals, working on projects around the home or enjoying outdoor activities. 

“Flexible scheduling allows our team members to have a healthy work-life balance,” Colson says. “No matter the hobby they have, we’ve found success in supporting our team members by providing them the flexibility to live their lifestyle.”

Wilco employees have more flexibility with their work schedules because they can select the work shifts that work best for them, Colson says. 

“Scheduling the needs of the business is our priority, but experience shows us not everyone wants to work the same days or shifts,” Colson says. “Each of our team members’ personal lives are different. Building a standard schedule and working with the team to fill those openings has worked exceptionally well for Wilco.”

Wilco is open 362 days per year and seven days a week with 81 hours to fill each week, providing many options for work scheduling. Colson says having a wide range of hours and days provides both part-time and full-time employees with numerous schedule options.

Each store manager receives a labor plan with the blocks of hours that need to be filled. For example, a store might have 140 cashiering hours, and that manager can hire as many full-time or part-time team members they want to fill those hours, Colson says. 

“While we prefer to maintain a 70% part-time to 30% full-time ratio, managers do have control over what might work best in their department,” Colson says. “We also have some scheduling guidelines around the busy days of the week and the busiest hours of the day. It’s important we are still available to our customers; it’s imperative we are there to serve them when they need us.”

Colson says managers strive to maintain consistent scheduling week to week, which allows employees to better plan their days off and helps with finding employees to fill in when an employee is out. 

Wilco Stores prides itself on hiring college students, which can get tricky with balancing and managing class schedules, Colson says. 

“We always work around their school schedules, even when it’s hard,” Colson says. “It’s important we focus on hiring students. They are our future customers, employees and industry advocates.”

Currently, the scheduling process is manual, but Colson says the company is working with a vendor on finding solutions for automated scheduling that will provide the same level of flexibility Wilco currently offers. 

“We haven’t yet been able to find a program that also offers the human touch we need in flexible scheduling,” he says. “That human touch is imperative to provide the work-life balance and flexible scheduling we’ve found success with.”

Hear More From TJ

Learn more about Wilco Stores’ positive company culture and commitment to innovation at the 2023 NHPA Independents Conference Aug. 2-3 in Dallas. TJ Colson is a 2023 NHPA Top Guns honoree and will be joining his fellow honorees for a panel discussion and reception, sponsored by STIHL and the National Hardware Show. Learn more and register here.

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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