Grocery Store Management: 5 Points for Shift Scheduling that Works

Grocery Store Management is Changing! And keeping the best workers in place, and happy and productive has never been more important. Here’s 5 points so you can do it!

Good old, clunky, brick and mortar supermarkets are still playing a role they played throughout the twentieth century. Maybe now, more so than ever, they’re town centers, they’re public forums, and they’re the one place that absolutely everyone will need to show up at least once a month. All that means, as you well know, they’re still wildly important, profitable and – with thousands of products, and often hundreds of employees – difficult to manage.

Grocery store management depends on keeping your choice workers happy, getting them in there on time and managing some peak shopping times with extra workers just for those crucial hours.

Some of them will stay. Some of them are finishing up. And managing who and what and where is getting easier, but surprisingly, many traditional grocery store managers will forget the most important question of all:


These five points are designed to let you get more “why?” into your management and your scheduling and your workers’ minds, so they’re not just sliding bar codes, but actually representing your store and your company.

1) Make it easy. Switching from a bulletin board paper schedule to one that’s internet and smartphone based sounds like it’s a big change. It’s not technically demanding and most employees will vastly prefer checking hours from home – after doing it just once.

2) Make it Obvious. Print out and distribute explicit instructions so that even older, less savvy workers can do it the first time without shattered nerves. If you’re already offering voluntary shift selection give workers a little explanation about why shifts are structured the way they are. Give them more than what they want to know and, where necessary, explain the policies and restrictions.

3) Make it Reassuring. Volatile working hours rattle nerves. Sometimes they can’t be avoided but maybe you need a reminder; workers want to do their best and to be proud of what they do. Giving workers more freedom and responsibility for their own hours and attendance always pays off and keeps people coming back.

4) Make it Accurate. Overtime, break times, wages and hours, clock-in, clock out – all of these need to be tracked, carefully and even religiously. That part’s gotten a lot easier with modern time tracking software, but your company has made a deal too. Keeping workers in place depends on your holding up and honoring your part of the bargain. Both sides need to be able to instantly account for any hours of any week or day or month.

5) Make it Rewarding. We often speak with employers who think that FlexTime is just an incentive. It is a big incentive. But more than that, it’s also a big money saving part of the deal. Better managing your workers’ clock-in times, total hours, and work-life balance let’s you be a much better employer. It also let’s you incentivize keeping better hours and rewards like better hours, more control, flextime and more vacation mean you actually become a magnet for the better workers in your market.

Even with strong union participation, we’ve found that all parties are happier when workers have more control and managers have to manage less. One of the most important places to come together and agree is over all the questions that come down to why? why? why?

Answering those questions pays off big. You can even use your time management software and email features to continue to build on answering the why questions. Ask them. Answer them. Using your auto-emails should be integrated with your training, your continuing education and the dissemination of your message is easier and more rewarding than ever before.

How is your supermarket handling today’s demanding and dynamic workforce?


Photo this page: Checkout lines at Maxima, © Wikimedia Commons, by Ville Säävuori

Karin Jakovljevic

About the author

Karin Jakovljevic

Karin Jakovljevic is the head of marketing at Ximble, a powerful, cloud-based workforce management system, simplifying employee scheduling and time tracking for retailers, restaurants and small businesses.

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