A US Department of Transportation study, The Transportation Management Center Staffing and Scheduling for Day-to-Day Operations, provides managers, supervisors, human resource personnel, and private contractors with valuable insights for Transportation Management Center (TMC) staffing and scheduling decisions. The study addresses the concepts, methods, processes, tasks, techniques, and other issues related to work analysis, scheduling, and staff planning. Several methods for analyzing aspects of work are covered, including job analysis, workload analysis, and demand analysis. General scheduling practices, issues associated with shiftwork, and methods on how to create a staffing plan and planning for emergencies are also discussed.
The efficient operation of a TMC depends on the effective management of human resources. A well-crafted TMC staffing plan should fulfill five key objectives:
- Ensure appropriate staffing levels. Proper staffing levels are required to ensure the efficient operation of an organization. A staffing plan should be designed to meet organizational demands, but minimize the potential for overstaffing or understaffing. Overstaffing can result in excessive payroll costs, while an understaffed organization may not be able to meet consumer demands for service. For a TMC, this could translate into slower response rates to incidents, the inability to respond to short-term demand spikes, or growing maintenance backlogs.
- Ensure the organization employs staff with the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities in the appropriate positions when needed. Organizations must determine what knowledge, skills, and abilities employees should possess, how many employees are currently required in each job, and how many might be required in the future. In addition, judgments must sometimes be made as to how a prospective employees' individual characteristics might make them better suited for certain positions. For example, the characteristics of an operator who will work the night shift may differ from those of a day shift operator. The night shift may require an employee who can work independently and can handle more responsibility, in contrast to a day worker who may need more teamwork skills. Because the operator position requires an extensive amount of training, an applicant may need to be hired several months before the position is vacant so that they have sufficient time to complete their training and reach a minimum competency level in the position.
- Ensure that the organization can adapt to changes within the organization and in the external environment. Organizations must also anticipate future changes either from within the organization or from external sources. Staffing plans can be formulated in advance by anticipating future changes instead of relying on reactionary decisions. Key positions within the organization can be tracked to determine when TMC employees plan to leave or retire. Lower-level employees can be groomed for promotion to fill key positions before the departure of higher-level employees. Economic growth or other factors such as an increase in gasoline prices may create a greater demand for services from TMCs. By anticipating the opportunity for growth, a TMC can request more money to hire more employees to expand operations and improve the services offered.
- Provide a systematic approach for human resource management. The staffing plan provides a framework for human resource decisions and activities by outlining a systematic approach to human resource management. Human resource functions should be integrated to support one another. For example, performance evaluations should include an assessment of training that employees have completed, and training activities should enable employees to receive pay raises and promotions, possibly as part of a succession plan.
- Provide a shared vision of human resource functions. Staffing plans ensure that managers have a shared vision of human resource functions. A staffing plan requires the input and support of all managers responsible for carrying out the plan within the organization. A mutual understanding of human resource management facilitates communication and cooperation among managers and helps to guarantee that organizational needs are met and employees are treated fairly.
Staffing plans are driven by the strategy of the organization. A more appropriate conceptualization of strategy for a TMC may be in terms of the functions performed, the services offered, and the overall mission of the TMC. The purpose of the staffing plan is to help ensure that the goals of the organization are met and met in an efficient manner. More specifically, staffing plans address the human resources needed to meet the goals of the organization.