Dr. Lisa: Each employee has a life outside his or her job in a business. They have family, financial and other pressures. Time off is sometimes needed.

Brad: Of course, but business owners have to run the business to satisfy their customers, as well as make enough profit to stay in business. Time off can be a real issue. In some businesses, it is the main issue.

Dr. Lisa: In many businesses, employees have holidays and earned vacation. Normally there are paid breaks for non-exempt employees. In addition, depending on the company, they might also have paid sick leave and/or unpaid time off.

Brad: Often times, the more senior the employee, the more earned vacation they have. And senior employees are frequently the most skilled. When they are off, it’s tough to maintain productivity. Early in my career, I supervised a small department of highly skilled employees. We were responsible for the production of a large group of paper mills. It didn’t take me long to realize that on average, one person would be off on vacation every day. And of course, it didn’t work out that way. Half the department would be gone the whole month of December. Most small businesses have this problem, although they cope with it in different ways.

Dr. Lisa: Yes, I’ve seen all kinds of different ways business owners cope with this, including NOT dealing with it at all. But, to maintain due date performance, there needs to be some predictability and consistency of resource availability. In the Velocity Scheduling System (based on Theory of Constraints drum buffer rope), machine shops are comparing load to capacity for several weeks into the future. Often the company policy requires less notice for vacation than the scheduling horizon, meaning that significant variability is added from even planned time off, not to speak of unplanned time off that happens with no notice. Due date performance is jeopardized.

Dr. Lisa: Then there is the impact on profitability. Paid time off is an operating expense. Throughput (Throughput equals Sales dollars minus Truly Variable Costs in Theory of Constraints Throughput Accounting) dollars must exceed Operating Expense to make a Profit. During some weeks and months of the year, there isn’t enough productive time available to produce enough Throughput to make money. This puts the business owner in the position of having to make enough more money in the more productive months to make up for the loss months.

Brad: And, customers don’t care about the people scheduling issues the supplier has. They expect what they want when they want it (or at least when it was promised). For sure, the demands placed on a supplier by a customer do not neatly fit into the preferences of when employees would like to work.

… to be continued in Part 68
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Here’s to maximizing YOUR profits!

Dr Lisa

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