Commentary & Opinion

A shift schedule template is a basic food group to workforce management

By Rick Bell

May. 8, 2020

Like meat and potatoes on the dinner table, a shift schedule template is considered one of the basic tools of workforce management.

Indeed, shift schedules are crucial to the smooth operation of workforce management. A single, uniform system allows employers to manage their workforce and standardize operations more easily and save money through simplified, consistent administration that allows the organization to focus on its core business.

Rather than managing schedules on paper, which can be inefficient and potentially risky when trying to balance overtime, paid time off and compliance regulations, view time and attendance and scheduling through a strategic lens.

shift schedule templateA template for all needs

Finding a shift schedule template that fits an organization’s needs may not be as daunting as it seems. Most exist in Microsoft Word and Excel formats as well as in Google docs and Google sheets. 

Some are detailed to include the week, day and times of day while others are largely blank. The templates are adaptable to adjust the days of the week among other details. 

There are varying styles of shift schedule templates. Among the most-used, according to labor management company 7shifts, include:

Fixed shift schedule — Fixed shifts consist of staff working the same number of hours and days each week.

Split shift schedule — Employees agree to fill their work hours over two shifts or time slots in a day. Work with HR or legal counsel to maintain federal labor law compliance.

Overtime shift schedules — These can be costly but are often necessary during emergencies and busy times. Again, recognize labor law compliance.

On-call shifts — An employee is available to work on demand, at any time. For example, if someone misses a fixed shift due to a family emergency, the employee in waiting will be contacted to take this shift.

Benefits of flexible shift options

It’s compulsory for organizations with hourly staffing needs to use shift scheduling tools. But with work from home becoming the norm, more companies are engaging employees through flexible shift schedules.

Implement a plan, keep in constant communication with those who are remote, and then evaluate its success. 

A shift scheduling template keeps all employees — in person or remote — on the same page. A work schedule calendar also assures that no shifts will be missed.

 Why innovate what already works?

Some people are perfectly fine with meat and potatoes every night for dinner. By the same token, some organizations are content with pen and paper to schedule employees.

Technology-based employee scheduling software not only offers the steak and spuds, it provides a tantalizing appetizer, a warm loaf of bread, a scrumptious side of veggies and to-die-for dessert, too.

Rather than spending hours slaving over a hot stove — er, spreadsheet — managers can build schedules on the go and immediately post for all employees to access.

Managers also understand that employee schedules can no longer be based solely on business demand. Schedules need to reflect employee preferences. Intuitive software can inform the organization when an employee is available and how many hours that person wants to work each week.

This also empowers employees to communicate with managers regarding time off or co-workers who may want to swap shifts. There is shared value for both sides. And if employee engagement is a goal, employers can build schedules that are more predictable, consistent and adequate so employees can better plan their lives and budgets and reduce use of sick days and shift trading.

If you have a large hourly workforce, is here to help. Its comprehensive time-keeping and scheduling software can handle complex business demands and allow the organization to view the big picture while empowering employees and maintaining compliance.

Rick Bell is Workforce’s editorial director.

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