How to Make Scheduling Employees Easier

Mar 30, 2022 1:00:00 PM / by Nate Winans

For managers who schedule shift-to-shift employees, there is a lot to be taken into consideration. Each week presents itself with new opportunities and challenges- shift changes, availability changes, time off requests, events where more or less staff is needed. You always want to make sure you have enough staff to meet the demands of each shift, but you also want to ensure you aren't overstaffing and increasing your labor costs.

To help you make scheduling employees easier, these tips will help you identify where you currently stand, what an efficient scheduling process looks like, and how you can cut down on labor costs.

Understand Your Needs

Before scheduling employees, you need to understand what your needs are. You need to know which hours, days, weeks, and months are your busiest. This helps ensure that you aren't approving too many time-off requests during time periods when you need all hands on deck. It will also help you schedule employees who can better accomplish important tasks without additional support. You want more capable employees at your busier times and less capable at times when additional support is available for them.

Using a scheduling solution that allows employees to enter their availability, time off requests, schedule changes, and more is a great way to help you understand your scheduling needs each week.

Understand Your Employees

Know your employees, their lifestyle, and most importantly, their availability. If you have college students who can't work Friday nights but you need them for early mornings on the weekend, they may not be at their peak performance. If you have parents of young children, last-minute schedule changes may be impossible to accommodate as there is more coordination needed on their end.

Understanding your employees will help you create better schedules and know who to turn to in the event of a last-minute schedule change and preferences of shifts.

Questions to ask your employees to better understand their scheduling needs:

  • What type of shift do they prefer? Morning, evening, night, overnight?
  • How many hours a week are you able to work? (If they aren't full time)
  • Which holidays are you able and not able to work?
  • If there are open shifts or last-minute shift changes, do you want to be automatically scheduled with short notice?

Having a database where your employees can request to swap, drop, or pick up a shift can help. It would also allow your employees to update their availability and request time off. This way if a manager goes to create a schedule, they'll see that an employee is unavailable even before trying to add them for a time slot.

Implement Best Practices

Don't create a schedule and make multiple changes once it's been published. Don't publish schedules and continually make last-second shift changes and fully expect employees to be able to show up without hesitation. Some employees may have another job, some may plan on not being available and aren't in the area. Have a best practices for scheduling outline created for employees and managers so everyone is on the same page.

Best Practices for Employees

When you hire an employee at your business, you expect them to be fully capable of handling the duties they've signed up for. You trust them to show up on time, be ready to work, and effectively communicate ahead of time if they can't make a shift or they need a last-minute change. Stuff pops up and things happen outside of people's control. But when changes aren't communicated or trust is broken, that can harm your bottom line.

If an employee is constantly showing up late because they forgot when they worked, they ask for a last-minute schedule change, they constantly try to get out of scheduled shifts. You may have an employee who isn't cut out for your business. There may always be circumstances where they have a lot of moving pieces on their end and that could cause last-minute changes. But more often than not, if you have an employee who is very demanding but isn't a good employee, you're allowing their schedule privileges to be abused.

How to tell if employees are abusing your scheduling practices:

  • They have the same emergency when they say they aren't able to show up for a scheduled shift.
  • They never want to work weekends and constantly try to swap or drop shifts so they can keep their weekends free.
  • They want to get out of shifts that have less "fun" tasks. (Stocking shelves, managing inventory, cleaning, etc.)
  • They're wanting to leave their shift early when it's getting towards the end even though there are still unfinished tasks.

Best Practices for Scheduling Managers

Your scheduling managers are not immune from best employee scheduling practices either. As a business, it's your duty to effectively communicate with your employees to schedule them appropriately, accommodate their schedules and lifestyles, and provide ample time for schedule changes. Amongst other things.

When it comes to creating your schedules, it should be done at least two weeks in advance to allow your business to plan accordingly and to provide enough time to your employees for any changes. If you have on-call shifts, you need to make sure they truly are on call, and not just a way to keep employees attached to you without ever having the intention of actually scheduling them.

Employees may have other jobs that they could work or miss out on plans because you want them to be available just because. There are times when this is necessary, but if you've made it a routine of not scheduling on-call shifts, you'll need to internally revise that to rectify that.

Last-minute shift changes or cancellations are no way to regularly treat your employees. Although there may be certain situations where things change in the blink of an eye, regularly canceling or altering shifts becomes frustrating for employees, and for your management team. It loses morale with your team because they may feel like they may not actually work, or, that their shift will change at the last second without being communicated. Everyone likes a little bit of consistency and a lot of communication. Communicate and build good habits between your employees and scheduling managers.

Make Scheduling Easier

Sure you could use an Excel spreadsheet or a printed template to create your schedules. But where the real power lies is within an employee scheduling solution. This will allow employees to enter in their availability, request time off, request to swap a shift, drop a shift, or pick up a shift. All with managerial approval. You'll be able to keep track of requests, log activity, and hold employees more accountable.

Start scheduling the right person, in the right place, at the right time, with ShiftForce.

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Tags: employee shift scheduling software, schedule employees online, shift management tool, shift planning

Nate Winans

Written by Nate Winans

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