Time & Attendance
By Dan Whitehead
Feb. 23, 2023
A few too many under or overstaffed shifts. Angry team members who feel they’ve worked more night shifts in the past week than their colleagues. Labor costs through the roof to cover a high amount of overtime. No call, no show absences.
These issues, and more, are all byproducts of ineffective or broken shift planning procedures. To add insult to injury, your HR team probably spends way too much time every month navigating Excel spreadsheets and shift templates to get it right.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Employee management tools like Workforce.com are specifically designed to help guide you through the employee shift planning maze with your sanity intact.
In this guide, we’ll run you through some of the important steps to adopt that will make shedding blood, sweat, and tears on shift planning a thing of the past.
The best preparation you can do for shift planning is to know your business inside and out. Filling all your shifts is meaningless if done randomly. Here are the basics you should cover before assigning employees anywhere.
By making these a core part of your shift management system, you’ll head off lots of future problems and build your schedules on rock-solid foundations.
Once you’re armed with intimate knowledge of your market conditions and predicted needs, it’s just a case of filling those empty shifts. With the right preparation, this part of the job should already be less intimidating, but here are the key things to keep in mind when you create a shift schedule.
It can be a lot to take in, and for people new to shift planning, this is where the feeling of being overwhelmed can rear up again. Trust your data, be methodical, and even the most complex shift planning job can be broken down into manageable parts. Remember, you can always use scheduling software to automatically match employees to shifts based on your criteria.
If you manage shift workers and aren’t yet familiar with the concept of predictive scheduling laws, then you should brush up on the details even if you don’t operate in an area where they are in effect.
Careful planning and good recordkeeping will help ensure you are not exposed to unnecessary legal risks. As well as compiling your shift data automatically, employee scheduling software can be easily set up to catch infractions at the scheduling stage, eliminating the danger of falling foul of predictive scheduling legislation in your region.
Even if you are not legally required to follow these laws, it’s worth implementing some of the changes regardless. Studies have shown that workers who have advance notice of shifts and healthy breaks in between are more productive and stay with companies longer. If staff churn is an issue for you, taking a long-term approach to shift planning may help retain employees.
No schedule is written in stone, of course, and employees will want to take personal time off. This doesn’t need to throw your shift planning into disarray, provided you have established a clear framework for managing employee time-off requests.
As a manager, keeping track of who has time off and when is vital. You don’t want to approve requests that leave you understaffed. Using scheduling software is the quick and easy way to avoid this, as it can automatically alert you whenever a time-off request creates a problem elsewhere on the schedule.
Emergencies will happen, and staff will sometimes not be able to work for unpredictable reasons. While this is never ideal, staff coverage doesn’t have to be a problem. In fact, you will already have insulated your business against this issue by preparing properly for shift planning in the first place.
The idea of shift swaps, or shift replacements, can create anxiety for some managers. Giving employees the option to request shift replacements seems to fly in the face of shift planning. A shift trade policy can actually be a benefit to both the staff and the company when properly managed. Not only does it help fill the gaps caused by unexpected staff shortages, but 87% of workers now want to have more control over their work schedules.
If you still handle your shift planning using spreadsheets or pen and paper, then tracking and implementing shift trade requests does become exponentially more complicated. Scheduling tools make the process painless by allowing employees to make their requests digitally while empowering managers to offer open shifts to specific workers. Any changes or requests will be instantly available to both employees and management through notifications through employee communications software.
Shift planning is less intimidating when you approach it fully prepared and break it down into a methodical process. Taking control of shift planning doesn’t just make the life of managers less stressful, but it also results in more efficient use of your employees and a company culture that is less likely to be derailed by staffing issues.
There’s nothing involved in this process that can’t be done using manual techniques, but if the complexity still overwhelms you, consider shift planning software to ease the strain.
Try it out for yourself today, or, check out the free webinar below on the ROI of shift planning software, featuring exclusive research from Forrester Research:
Schedule, engage, and pay your staff in one system with Workforce.com.
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