Staffing Management

Scheduling headaches: How to better manage your hourly workers’ schedules

By Yasmeen Qahwash

Mar. 17, 2020

When it comes to scheduling hourly workers, time really is money. Managers and executives may recognize the significance of employee scheduling. Still, it can seem like an impossible task. Maintaining a fair and functional schedule that keeps everyone happy is a full-time job all on its own. Scheduling more than 100 hourly workers may be a burden for both the managers that spend hours trying to create these schedules every week and for the employees who don’t always get the schedule they wanted. 

Knowing exactly how to schedule employees isn’t easy. And there are many last-minute changes that occur, such as split shifts and requests for time off. Emergencies, such as employees calling in sick or needing their hours covered also need to be taken into consideration as extra time that managers will inevitably spend on trying to manage a cohesive schedule, said Leon Pearce, lead software engineer at Workforce.

“Schedules are never complete, they’re constantly changing. Managing the lifecycle of schedules takes some pretty good tools to do it well,” Pearce said.

Also read: On-shift scheduling doesn’t have to be a headache for managers or employees

Matt Fairhurst, chief executive officer of Skedulo, a mobile workforce management platform, said that tackling these continuous challenges is organized chaos. “The complexity of scheduling hourly workers is mind-boggling, and the chaos grows exponentially beyond 50 workers,” Fairhurst said in an email statement. “It’s a living, breathing, ever-evolving puzzle that never quite gets solved.”

Fair workweek laws are something else to be aware of when creating hourly schedules, Fairhurst said. It’s smart for managers to do some research and ensure that the company is in compliance with local fair workweek laws, which right now are in flux. 

“A large part of managing the hourly workforce is not just managing and communicating schedules, but helping establish and comply with work conditions, constraints and rules that help govern fair working practices, fatigue management and more,” Fairhurst said. “It’s important for systems managing the working week of any hourly employee to have the capability to ensure these constraints are understood, respected and optimized for.”

Employee scheduling software can help make sure that the schedule continues to work best for both the employees and the business by tracking time off requests, shift trades, availability changes, overtime and projected sales all in one place. This saves managers time and gives employees more control over their work lives. “It leads to having a more engaged and happier staff, because they’re more likely to be working the hours that they wanted, which is the best case for everyone,” Pearce said. “It also gives a lot of time back to the managers and allows them to focus more on the actual business as opposed to the administration type of tasks.”

Also read: The use of technology in managing burnout in your hourly workforce

Mike Zorn, VP of Work Strategy at WorkJam

It’s beneficial for employers to make scheduling more flexible and give employees a greater say in what their schedules look like, according to Mike Zorn, vice president of work strategy at WorkJam, an employee engagement app for the hourly workforce. “Giving people the ability to swap schedules is critical,” Zorn said. “If you give people the ability to pick up schedules when they want to work, you’re less likely to have turnover because they’re making a commitment to that time rather than the manager telling them [when to work].”

Managers should develop a self-service mentality to relieve themselves from the tedious scheduling tasks in order to put more valuable time into their responsibilities that will ultimately help the business succeed, according to Zorn. 

“It takes the manager away from those critical things that a manager should be doing, which is inspiring people, coaching people and making sure the strategies are being produced,” he said. “Anything that takes away from the key things that a manager should be doing is detrimental to the overall business.”

Yasmeen Qahwash is an editorial associate for Workforce.

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