Arizona State University (ASU) is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States, with approximately 60,000 students at the Tempe campus and more than 72,000 students across its four campuses. To accommodate its student population’s continued growth, ASU has recently undergone numerous renovations, including the expansion of each campus’ recreation center.
ASU’s recreation centers, The Sun Devil Fitness Complexes, enhance the student experience by providing programs, services, and facilities that promote healthy lifestyles, build community, and enable student success. The Sun Devil Fitness Complexes also offer a variety of recreation, fitness, and sport opportunities that include intramurals, group fitness, personal training, and sports clubs.
The newly renovated Tempe Sun Devil Fitness Complex includes the addition of a state-of-the-art weight and fitness area with cardiovascular strength equipment and free weights; two multipurpose studios for group fitness, sports, and activities; a two-court and a three-court gymnasium for sports and campus events; a multi-activity gymnasium; a wellness suite for massage, meditation, and other wellness programs and services; and multiple sports fields.
To keep operations running smoothly at a recreation center that serves 60,000 students, a small army of student workers is required. Tempe Sun Devil Fitness Complex Program Coordinator, Kris Kuchler, explained, “We have over 200 student employees working across 7 departments in 40-50 different roles. Scheduling is complicated because many students work in different areas for different managers, who all do their scheduling differently.”
A student working for multiple managers has to deal with different rules of engagement, and facility managers have trouble getting a handle on student labor needs. “The lack of a consistent process, with many students working for multiple areas, created a lot of problems. Managers used paper and spreadsheets for the most part, but each department ended up doing it a different way, and different processes were adopted by each,” Kris explained.
Another issue managers faced revolved around communicating shift changes and the associated accountability for coverage. Student life is hectic, it’s relatively common for availability to change last minute, and for employees to agree to cover or substitute for one another; however, knowing who to hold accountable when changes weren’t clearly communicated is very difficult. “Staff would say they changed it on the schedule, or that so-and-so said they were going to take my shift, but we had no evidence to support these claims,” said Kris.
Finally, there was the issue of managing each employee’s total hours and balancing workload. Tracking employees’ scheduled hours was a manual process and a constant challenge, especially when employees reported to multiple managers. Distributing hours evenly among staff was also a manual, subjective process that wasn’t always perceived as fair. Managers and staff became very frustrated with the lack of a consistent, systematic employee scheduling process. This frustration fueled their efforts for finding a software solution to consolidate and standardize their staff scheduling processes at the Sun Devil Fitness Complexes.
“It was a former employee, our previous student employment director, who brought SubItUp to our attention. She was looking for a more uniform way for students to be held accountable, and discovered this software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution,” Kris said. SubItUp’s employee scheduling software appeared to not only solve all of ASU’s challenges, but do so with an innovative approach that engaged managers and employees alike, collaborating online and via mobile devices to optimize labor management. So, the Sun Devil Fitness Complexes started taking a serious look at implementing SubItUp.
In evaluating SubItUp, the team felt the system covered all their basic requirements, but they also managed to come up with a number of enhancement requests. They found the staff at SubItUp to be very receptive to their ideas, and several features were added to the system including the ability to define sub-manager views, the ability for students to see a combined view of their entire schedule across departments, and more.
Satisfied that SubItUp would handle their needs, the Sun Devil Fitness Complexes moved ahead with introducing the system. “There was a little bit of angst around the system initially, but that was only because people didn’t understand it. Now that we’ve embraced the system, it would be impossible to live without it,” Kris explained. Special Events and Facility Supervisor, Phil Carter added, “SubItUp’s interface is very user friendly, and students love that there is an ‘app for that’ on their mobile devices.”
Now that they’ve been using SubItUp for a while, the Sun Devil Fitness Complexes can reflect on some of the benefits of using the solution. “We appreciate the ease of scheduling, and always having real-time, accurate information that is accessible from any internet device. Managers love simply looking at their mobile device to see who is working at any time,” Kris said. Everyone seems to appreciate the new paradigm of collaborating online to manage the schedule. Employees like having the option to be notified via email when shifts become available, and managers appreciate the option of approving or denying shift requests.
One of the biggest benefits however, comes from SubItUp’s process for substitutions and the accountability it brings. “It holds my staff accountable for their shifts. When they drop a shift, or do not show up, I have proof of when they were supposed to work. I also love that I can track the number of shifts an employee drops and adds,” Kris explained. SubItUp also provides accountability around requests for time off (RTOs) in that supervisors can review these requests and see whether they were submitted far enough in advance. Managers and employees alike appreciate the fair and equal treatment that the system provides.
Another big benefit comes in time savings. “I didn’t think generating a schedule could be so easy. It has cut the time I spend on scheduling tremendously,” Kris exclaimed. For his department alone, Kris used to spend nearly 6 hours creating a work schedule, which now takes only 2 hours (a 67% savings in time). He would also spend 8 hours generating a camp schedule, that now only takes 1 ½ hours (more than an 80% savings in time).
Kris’ favorite feature is the system’s management of time by shifts instead of by hours. “I deal with set shifts, so it’s great! It is much easier to ask an employee if they can work a particular shift rather than having to ask about specific hours,” Kris explained. Kris also appreciates the ‘availability by shift view’ and the fact that he can see the number of employees available to work any given shift. He explained that with this view, and the number of available resources, he’s in a better position to decide on the amount of programming he can add to a particular day.
The Sun Devil Fitness Complexes were also pleasantly surprised, and incredibly thankful, for how responsive SubItUp’s staff is to their needs as a customer. “They get to the bottom of problems as quickly as possible. It’s a huge benefit that they’re so responsive,” said Kris. Implementing SubItUp has not only brought the Sun Devil Fitness Complexes into the 21st century regarding employee scheduling, it has also positioned their organization to better handle the campus’ ongoing growth.