4 Tips for Successful Employee Scheduling

Four Tips for Employee Scheduling that Will Make a True Difference in Your Workplace


There was a time when the Excel spreadsheet was a godsend to employee scheduling. Decades of paper, slide rule and pencil seemed to all come to a close in the span of a couple of years.

But Excel still has its place in the office, as do the pencil and the slide rule. Its just that employee scheduling has had to catch up with busy employees and business that have changed as much as workers have.

Business will Keep On Changing

There’s not a lot that you can count on. There is one constant. It will change and your employees will change and your need for having them, now or later, will change too. Full-time shifts, part-time shifts and probably some others will all all be in there, and many of them will ceasing permanent while others will increase in importance. Someone needs to be there.

If your business is seasonal, affected by seasons, or changes from month to month, then staff scheduling is probably already far more complicated than it needs to be. It won’t   get less complicated, but handling all of that complication will get a lot easier. You just need to know what you’re doing.

Many employee scheduling projects are taken up just to let lesser skilled employees know that you’re looking out for them. They need advance notice of what’s going to happen and – frankly – you probably do too. But if week after week it’s taking longer and longer, or anything more than a few administrative minutes, it’s probably time to make some serious changes. That’s what this article is about.

1) Communications

We harp on communications as much as we do on everything else here, and it just can’t be over-emphasized. A lot of negative behavior lives on far longer than it should – in many dysfunctional workplaces – just because communications are neither open, productive, or well implemented. Understand employee lifestyles, work styles, preferences, needs and personalities. Talk to them, and even more important, listen to them. You’ll see who the leaders are  and just by getting to know them you’ll get to know what kinds of schedules they need, want and deserve. Employee scheduling conflicts have a way of dissipating when the communications channels are open and well tended.

2) Coordinate ALL Schedules

Not just work schedules, but seasonal, production and delivery schedules need to be looked at too. These can often be available months in advance. Part-time, seasonal and flexible schedules are easier than ever to manage with the right software. Adding extra-help – only when it’s necessary – is crucial, but you’ve got to be able to rely on a history and production and delivery schedules to know what’s going on, and as far in advance as possible. Peak seasons can wreak havoc on the demand for workers and can depending on all kinds of variables. That’s one of the reasons that Ximble has on-the-fly messaging –  so that every employee who needs to know gets to know up to a week in advance – and sometimes more.

3) Plan for Plan B

Alternate Schedules should be easy. Employees need to know how to quickly replace themselves when they’ll miss a shift and they should be able to do so with long notice – at least a week – and with little notice. Oversight? Your software should be looking out for you and following up with employees. Still, a back up plan may be necessary if things really do get sticky. Part time or seasonal employees can be life savers in such situations and keeping some people on-call is increasingly popular with shift schedulers.

4) Revise Your Working Hours Policies

While excusing tardiness or missed shifts is not the most common way of handling the problem, it does go on more than a lot of managers would want to believe. While flexible scheduling should not be used to reward truancy or otherwise careless employees, in most cases we’ve looked at, truly valuable employees are simply hampered by having to adhere to needlessly strict schedules. 9 to 5 is simply when everything in people’s lives gets done so working different, more flexible hours can often make all the sense in the world.

Of course, we’ve become something of the experts in using employee scheduling to improve engagement, performance and productivity. There’s nothing quite like re-inventing your workplace by giving your people freedom and their lives back while still doing an excellent job and succeeding in your own market. If we’ve missed the most important employee scheduling tip in the discussion above, please let us know, in the comments below.

Dan Ilic

About the author

Dan Ilic

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