10 Tips to Streamline Seasonal Scheduling

Are you ready to streamline your seasonal schedule? It can be challenging to work around vacations and production needs. Here are 10 tips to help.

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When summer approaches or the winter holiday season is on the horizon, companies worry about seasonal schedules. For many retail businesses, the last half of the year is typically filled with work opportunities — and understanding who will work during these times is crucial.

Streamlining scheduling can help teams do their best work. Find out how to do so at your company.

What is seasonal scheduling?

Seasonal scheduling is how you arrange your employees to cover dips or flare-ups during holidays or vacations.

For example, summer can lead to dips in customers as more people take time off. However, some businesses, like water parks and ice cream parlors, thrive in the summer.

Winter months often lead to increased scheduling needs to cover holiday shopping in business-to-consumer brands. The winter can also cause flare-ups in business-to-business brands as companies work to use any leftover budget before the new year.

Reasons to streamline seasonal scheduling

Employees care about their schedules.

One of the main ways that people can obtain work/life balance starts with when and how long they work. Workers need flexibility. A recent report from SHRM found that 31% of HR professionals felt that limited flexibility in hours and location created challenges for finding and keeping talent. Furthermore, 45% of HR professionals noted lack of flexibility as a challenge in in-person organizations.

Employees crave flexibility in the summer. When you look at employee perks like Summer Fridays, this love of flexibility becomes more apparent. A recent poll from Wisetail revealed that 59% of workers had this benefit. However, Summer Fridays look different at every company. For example, some companies have every Friday off, while others opt for one Friday a month or half-days.

31% of HR professionals felt that limited flexibility in hours and location created challenges for finding and keeping talent. Furthermore, 45% of HR professionals noted lack of flexibility as a challenge in in-person organizations.

How to streamline seasonal scheduling

It can be challenging to streamline scheduling as a small business. Here are some best practices to help you create schedules your team will love.

1. Release the need to make everyone happy

Time and scheduling are complex. Some of your employees might not get their exact time-off requests or be able to work as much as they’d like. If you feel like you need to make everyone happy, you’ll likely fail at some point. Release that need so you can build the best seasonal schedule you can.

2. Review trends from past seasons

Before you create your current schedule, you need to review past seasons. This review period will help you spot trends. You can typically find data from past seasons in your employee scheduling software. You can also survey your team members. Ask questions about:

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • How can you improve?

3. Plan and communicate your needs

Once you understand trends better, you must plan and communicate your needs to HR or company leaders. How many hours and staff members do you think you need to meet demands? Do you have enough people, or will you need to hire some extra help?

4. Encourage employees to put in time-off requests as early as possible

Holidays and vacations can mess up the flow of your work. You must know what’s happening so you can streamline scheduling. So, ask for time-off requests as early as possible. Once you have a request, it will make it easier to schedule around it.

5. Utilize software to visualize time-off requests

When multiple people request time-off, it can be hard to keep things straight. Employee scheduling software can help you visualize where everyone’s requests fall. From there, you can easily schedule around off-days and make it easy for people to love their seasonal schedules.

6. Create a B-Team to provide coverage when needed

Sometimes you need more support, especially during holidays. Build a B-team or substitutes you can call in to take care of shifts when your main employees need time off. You can contact past employees to see if they’d like to be a part of your company’s B-team to make extra cash during the holiday season.

7. Offer overtime to employees who want it

If work is going up or requires reconfiguring, don’t hesitate to offer overtime. Overtime can help employees a lot, especially during holidays. Connect with your team members to see if some extra hours could work for them. You might even survey employees to ask which weeks they could take on extra hours based on their availability.

8. Plan time-off even if employees don’t request it

During busy seasons, it’s easy to get stressed or burnt out. Some of your employees may feel comfortable working long hours during a seasonal schedule, but they still need occasional time off. Try to streamline schedules so that employees can have regular off-days. You should also try to schedule time-off back-to-back, even if you can’t give someone the weekend off.

9. Avoid clopening shifts

You’ve probably heard of the dreaded “clopening” shift if you are a small business. Clopening is when an employee closes at night and then opens the next day. These shifts can be challenging because an employee doesn’t have time to rest.

As some companies stay open earlier or close later, there isn’t any time to rest and recuperate between shifts. One way to streamline scheduling is to avoid these shifts altogether.

10. Show appreciation for your employees

Last but not least, you have to show appreciation for your seasonal employees. Seasonal scheduling often requires a lot of time and energy from employees.

Employee scheduling may feel like a balancing act for HR, but your workers are the people making those schedules work. Saying thank you and giving out occasional bonuses or gift cards is a great way to show appreciation for seasonal employees.

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Seasonal scheduling is stressful, but there are ways to streamline it

Scheduling when there are dips or booms at work can be stressful. It can be challenging to understand how to stretch the work or the workers when their needs shift.

Thankfully there are ways to streamline scheduling so your talented employees can be best paired with open shifts. With a bit of effort, you should be able to organize a schedule that works for most of your team.

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