Tips and Tricks to Make Employee Scheduling Easier

Are you struggling to figure out employee scheduling?

It’s not easy to make a schedule that meets the needs of both your employees and your company. Scheduling is one of the most important things you can do for your business, though – without a great schedule, you won’t have enough staff on hand to keep things running properly.

Making your employees’ schedule becomes much easier when you have a few tips, tricks, and ideas in mind. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to avoid schedule mishaps. Keep reading to learn more!

1. Avoid the Perils of Scheduling Abuse

Understanding schedule abuse is one of the most important ways you can make your life easier when you do the schedule.

There are actually two kinds of schedule abuse. One comes from employees, and the second one comes from the person making the schedule. Let’s take a look at how you can avoid schedule abuse from your employees, or accidentally causing schedule abuse yourself.

Employee Abuse

Hopefully, you trust most of your employees to have the company’s best interest in mind. They want to work hard when they need to and have a healthy work-life balance.

These employees might ask for schedule changes from time to time. When they do, you should trust that it’s because they really need them. They aren’t trying to get better shifts or avoid working altogether.

How can you tell when those requests become abuse? A few key signs:

  • Always asking for schedule changes on Mondays or Fridays
  • Frequently asking to leave work early
  • Trading with coworkers to get “better” shifts
  • Avoiding “bad” shifts that involve challenging tasks like inventory or stocking
  • Not showing up to shifts that they couldn’t find a replacement for
  • Asking for schedule changes at the last minute when there’s no emergency to justify it
  • Having the same “emergency” multiple times to get out of work

Not sure if abuse is happening? Check your employee scheduling software to get an idea. (Interested in schedule making software? Read more here!)

When you need to address the issue with the employee, use your employee handbook to navigate the issue. Talk to them privately, and try to find out if there is some crisis happening in their life that they haven’t told you about, or if schedule abuse is really happening.

For example, sometimes employees might seem to be abusing the schedule when they’re actually dealing with mental health issues.

Manager Abuse

When you, the person in charge of the schedule, is creating schedule abuse, the situation is different.

Here are a few common types of managerial schedule abuse:

  • On-call scheduling: when an employee is routinely scheduled on an “on-call” basis and doesn’t know whether they’ll be working or not until that day
  • Canceled shifts: when an employee’s shifts are canceled at the last minute, preventing them from making any income or taking shifts at another job
  • Last-minute changes: when the schedule is finished just a day or two in advance of the shifts, keeping employees from making other plans
  • Shifts that run late: repeatedly keeping employees on long shifts that they feel obligated to work

These are common problems, and typically aren’t intentional schedule abuse. When you’re struggling to keep your business staffed, it’s easy to forget how certain practices can impact your employees.

Occasional last-minute changes or late shifts are okay. It’s when it starts to become a trend that you have a problem. If you notice that some of these practices are becoming habits, find ways to change your policies.

Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your best employees to jobs with better schedules.

2. Hire On-Call Employees

If you need employees on an on-call basis and can’t always guarantee the hours, you need to hire employees for that specific job description.

It’s not fair to put your regular employees on on-call shifts, because this means they can’t count on regular income from the job. However, if you hire on-call employees, you can be straightforward about what the position entails.

On-call employees can be a great tool. They are workers that you won’t have to pay unless you really need them.

When you hire on-call employees, put a section in the employee handbook that’s dedicated specifically to them. Some people like being on-call and are intentionally looking for those jobs, so they’ll be happy to take the positions.

Don’t make employees work on an on-call basis when they didn’t agree to it in the first place. Just hire employees who will be glad about the on-call opportunity instead.

3. Understand Your Business

One of the most important tasks when scheduling employees is to understand the business well.

When you’re in a managerial role, this can be harder than it sounds. If you’re not involved in the day-to-day floor operations like your employees are, you might be missing critical information.

For example, you need to know when the busy times are so that you can schedule the right number of employees during those hours. You also need to schedule the right employees for the right house.

If your restaurant has too many hosts and not enough servers, employees will have a hard time navigating the busy shifts.

If you under-schedule for shifts, your customers will be frustrated by long wait times, and your employees will be exhausted. But if you over-schedule, your employees will get bored and you’ll spend too much money to pay them.

One of the best ways to learn what you need to know is to talk to your top employees. They can fill you in on any scheduling needs you may have missed.

4. Use Solid Communication

How you communicate the schedule is important, too. Make sure you let your employees know how you make the schedule, and why you give them the shifts you do.

The more clear communication you can provide about the schedule, the happier your employees will be.

A Great Schedule Makes a Great Business

When you use these scheduling tips and tricks, you’ll have employees that stick around and a company that runs smoothly.

Are you thinking about doing schedules for a brand new business? Check out our guide to the top businesses to start here.

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