How to Fine-Tune Your Employee Scheduling

Are you ready to fine-tune employee scheduling? With staffing shortages, you need these 8 tips to create the best schedules for your organization.

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Keeping your business well staffed is challenging, especially when many industries are dealing with hiring shortages. Companies are putting more value on their employee scheduling process, but it’s difficult to juggle the needs of staff members. HR leaders and managers must ensure that employees get enough hours and receive their schedules promptly.

Thankfully, there are ways to fine-tune employee scheduling in your business with attention to detail and employee collaboration.

The challenges of employee time and scheduling

When sitting down to work on a schedule, managers face many challenges. Time and scheduling can feel like a giant puzzle with hundreds of pieces to put together every week.

One of the biggest challenges of employee scheduling is life. Life emergencies and sickness happen, and it can throw a wrench in employee scheduling plans. In a world where work-life balance is essential, sometimes workers have to put their personal lives first.

Another challenge of employee time and scheduling is ensuring that you have the coverage you need. Customer service, factory operations, and retail work often need several people on the phone or in person. Without enough people on staff, you may not be able to provide adequate service.

Finally, there’s the challenge of money. If you don’t have enough cash flow, you might not be able to afford enough employees for every shift. Money can also become a factor with overtime because employees typically have to pay time and a half when employees work over 40 hours.

8 tips for fine-tuning your employee scheduling

These challenges can make scheduling difficult, but they can also be overcome. Your organization can work on ways to improve employee scheduling by implementing a few simple strategies at work. Here are 8 tips that will make staffing your business a breeze.

1. Use software to keep up with schedules and attendance

Balancing your organization’s needs is challenging, especially as you staff multiple shifts or locations. Managing unique schedules, time off, and company needs can be difficult, especially if you are a visual person.

Paper schedules because they can be hard to track. And trying to work on schedules using a spreadsheet is tiring. While spreadsheets offer more flexibility, it’s still hard to sift through information to create a comprehensive schedule.

Software with simple time and scheduling modules can help you staff your organization while keeping employee needs in mind. Look for software that allows you to create a schedule while easily looking at employee time-off requests.

2. Create an easy process for schedule switching

Life happens, and occasionally your employees will need to switch their schedules or trade shifts with a coworker. Your team might experience a death in their family or an unexpected illness. Companies should provide processes that make it easy for employees to take care of themselves and their families when needed.

3. Work on schedules in advance

The earlier you can provide employees with their schedules, the better. Try getting schedules out 2 or more weeks in advance so that employees can plan their personal lives accordingly. Providing schedules in advance requires give and take. You’ll likely want time-off requests earlier, but employees will accommodate you because they get schedules sooner.

4. Keep things as consistent as possible

According to data from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University Of California, San Francisco, schedule variance has a documented negative impact on employees. In general, employees who had shift cancelations experienced more psychological distress and unhappiness. Sixty-four percent of employees with canceled shifts experienced psychological stress, compared to 43% of those who didn’t.

Sixty-four percent of employees with canceled shifts experienced psychological stress, compared to 43% of those who didn’t.

5. Be smart about how you block hours and days

Coming into work for a 2-hour shift isn’t easy, especially if employees commute long distances. Sometimes employees wind up with weird times because they’re needed, but that’s not optimal. If possible, shifts should last at least 6 hours. On top of that, arranging how employees take time off is equally important. Two off-days back to back is more helpful than 2 days spread out.

When configuring company schedules, ask employees what they need in terms of hours and days off. Of course, you might have an employee willing to take odd shifts or off-days, but you should never assume that’s the case.

6. Offer overtime for employees who want to work more

Working overtime is a great way to handle a temporary staffing need if your organization can afford it. There comes a time when hiring a new employee is more cost-effective, but that takes a prolonged need for employee support. Overtime requires that employers pay employees time and a half. A new employee may require 40 hours and benefits. Weigh the costs of each when deciding on your scheduling needs.

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7. Consider having backup workers on call

One way to fine-tune employee scheduling is through backup workers. Backup workers could be people you’ve employed previously or new workers you’ve hired specifically for on-call work.

Think of backup workers as substitute teachers. These workers can fill in odd shifts to help your business succeed while you are short-staffed. The best backup workers are people who have worked with your organization previously.

8. Build solid relationships with the employees you manage

Last but not least, if you want to fine-tune employee scheduling, you need to build relationships with employees. By connecting with team members, you can get to know who works at your company and what they need from their schedules. These details will help you build tailor-made schedules for employees.

Another benefit of building relationships at work is the respect and trust you’ll gain from employees. Scheduling can be a sore spot for workers who want to go on an impromptu vacation or take a rest day. You may not be able to give team members their dream schedule, but relationships will make it easier to discuss these issues when they arise.

When building relationships, it’s important not to play favorites in scheduling. Employees may notice if a group of employees always seem to get the best schedule.

Improve employee scheduling by supporting your team members

When you fine-tune employee scheduling, your top priorities should be meeting company needs and helping your team. You won’t be able to create a schedule that pleases everyone. Sometimes you’ll need to make challenging decisions to support the team. But with the right software and supportive policies, you can create better scheduling procedures that work for the long term.

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