Using personnel scheduling to reduce overstaffing and understaffing in a service industry across multiple periods is often undermined by lack of flexibility due to the exclusive use of specialized personnel. This study analyses the impacts of assigning multi-skilled personnel to different activities and its potential for improving schedule efficiency. A proposed mixed integer linear programming model determines which employees are trained to work in which activities and their assignments over a one-week planning horizon. The model results show that the lowest total-cost multi-skilled configurations are obtained in scenarios where personnel supply and demand are in equilibrium. Half of employees would continue to be specialized for just one activity while the half slated for multi-skilling would be trained in most cases for just one additional activity, even though training cost is assumed to be minimal. It is also shown that multi-skilling is best applied to employees whose contracts are highly flexible.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Abernathy WJ, Baloff N, Hershey JC and Wandel S (1973). A three-stage manpower planning and scheduling model—A service-sector example. Operations Research 21 (3): 693–711.
Agnihothri SR, Mishra AK and Simmons DE (2003). Workforce cross-training decisions in field service systems with two job types. Journal of the Operational Research Society 54 (4): 410–418.
Alfares HK (2004). Survey, categorization, and comparison of recent tour scheduling literature. Annals of Operations Research 127 (1–4): 145–175.
Batta R, Berman O and Wang Q (2007). Balancing staffing and switching costs in a service center with flexible servers. European Journal of Operational Research 177 (2): 924–938.
Billionnet A (1999). Integer programming to schedule a hierarchical workforce with variable demands. European Journal of Operational Research 114 (1): 105–114.
Bokhorst JAC, Slomp J and Molleman E (2004). Development and evaluation of cross-training policies for manufacturing teams. IIE Transactions 36 (10): 969–984.
Brusco MJ and Johns TR (1998). Staffing a multiskilled workforce with varying levels of productivity: An analysis of cross-training policies. Decision Sciences 29 (2): 499–515.
Brusco M (2008). An exact algorithm for a workforce allocation problem with application to an analysis of cross-training policies. IIE Transactions 40 (5): 495–508.
Cai X and Li KN (2000). A genetic algorithm for scheduling staff of mixed skills under multi-criteria. European Journal of Operational Research 125 (2): 359–369.
Campbell GM (1999). Cross-utilization of workers whose capabilities differ. Management Science 45 (5): 722–732.
Campbell GM (2011). A two-stage stochastic program for scheduling and allocating cross-trained workers. Journal of the Operational Research Society 62 (6): 1038–1047.
Easton FF (2011). Cross-training performance in flexible labor scheduling environments. IIE Transactions 43 (8): 589–603.
Ernst A, Jiang H, Krishnamoorthy M, Owens B and Sier D (2004a). An annotated bibliography of personnel scheduling and rostering. Annals of Operations Research 127 (1–4): 21–144.
Ernst A, Jiang H, Krishnamoorthy M and Sier D (2004b). Staff scheduling and rostering: A review of applications, methods and models. European Journal of Operational Research 153 (1): 3–27.
Felan JT, Fry TD and Philipoom PR (1993). Labour flexibility and staffing levels in a dual-resources constrained job shop. International Journal of Production Research 31 (10): 2487–2506.
Felan JT and Fry TD (2001). Multi-level heterogeneous worker flexibility in a dual resource constrained (DRC) job-shop. International Journal Production Research 39 (14): 3041–3059.
Hopp WJ, Tekin E and Van Oyen MP (2004). Benefits of skill chaining in serial production lines with cross-trained workers. Management Science 50 (1): 83–98.
Inman RR, Jordan WC and Blumenfeld DE (2004). Chained cross-training of assembly line workers. International Journal of Production Research 42 (10): 1899–1910.
Johannessen JA, Olsen B and Olaisen J (1997). Organizing for innovation. Long Range Planning 30 (1): 96–109.
Jordan WC and Graves SC (1995). Principles on the benefits of manufacturing process flexibility. Management Science 41 (4): 577–594.
Kabak Ö, Ülengin F, Aktas E, Önsel S and Topcu I (2008). Efficient shift scheduling in the retail sector through two-stage optimization. European Journal of Operational Research 184 (1): 76–90.
Kim S and Nembhard DA (2010). Cross-trained staffing levels with heterogeneous learning/forgetting. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management 57 (4): 560–574.
Molleman E and Slomp J (1999). Functional flexibility and team performance. International Journal of Production Research 37 (8): 1837–1858.
Rong A (2010). Monthly tour scheduling models with mixed skills considering weekend off requirements. Computers and Industrial Engineering 59 (2): 334–343.
Seckiner SU, Gokcen H and Kurt M (2007). An integer programming model for hierarchical workforce scheduling problem. European Journal of Operational Research 183 (2): 694–699.
Simchi-Levi D (2010). Operations Rules: Delivering Customer Value through Flexible Operations. The MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.
Simchi-Levi D and Wei Y (2012). Understanding the performance of the long chain and sparse designs in process flexibility. Operations research 60 (5): 1125–1141.
Slomp J and Molleman E (2002). Cross-training in policies and team performance. International Journal of Production Research 40 (5): 1193–1219.
Slomp J, Bokhorst JAC and Molleman E (2005). Cross-training in a cellular manufacturing environment. Computers and Industrial Engineering 48 (3): 609–624.
Stewart BD, Webster DB, Ahmad S and Matson JO (1994). Mathematical models for developing a flexible workforce. International Journal of Production Economics 36 (3): 243–254.
Van Den Bergh J, Belien J, De Bruecker P, Demeulemeester E and De Boeck L (2013). Personnel scheduling: A literature review. European Journal of Operational Research 226 (3): 367–385.
Yang KK (2007). A comparison of cross-training policies in different job shops. International Journal of Production Research 45 (6): 1279–1295.
This research was supported by CONICYT under Grant 499/17-03-2009 and 2012 MISTI global seed funds. The authors would like to thank the three anonymous referees for their helpful comments and insights on this paper. They are also grateful to their colleagues at SHIFT-UC for their useful feedback at various stages of this research and providing the data used to solve the problem for the retail firm.
About this article
Cite this article
Henao, C., Muñoz, J. & Ferrer, J. The impact of multi-skilling on personnel scheduling in the service sector: a retail industry case. J Oper Res Soc 66, 1949–1959 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1057/jors.2015.9
- personnel scheduling
- retail services
- tour scheduling
- workforce flexibility