Last Updated On June 06, 2019 / Written By Grace Njaramba

The Complete Step-By-Step Guide to Effective Employee Scheduling

Employee scheduling or staff scheduling, at its most basic, can be described as the process of assigning tasks to employees for a specified period of time. Read on to learn about effective employee scheduling through this step-by-step guide.

The Keys to Effective Employee Scheduling

In most companies, scheduling employees is often the manager’s responsibility. However, in larger organizations, the task may be solely dedicated to a scheduling specialist or the human resource manager.

The goal of employee scheduling is to assign tasks as effectively as possible. Effective employee scheduling allows businesses to reap various benefits, including but not limited to reduced labor costs, compliance, and satisfied employees and clients. Unfortunately, most people responsible for creating employee schedules rarely create effective schedules. Doing so is understandable, especially with unavoidable circumstances like last-minute shift changes and time-off requests to deal with. Luckily, businesses are learning, and many companies are already reaping the benefits of effective employee scheduling with the help of employee scheduling software like Zip Schedules, which when used together with a time tracking software, like Zip Clock, can save you up to $2,000 monthly.

The keys to effective employee scheduling are business scheduling needs and employee scheduling needs. Without balancing the two, achieving effective schedules becomes impossible. If you focus on one and neglect the other, the business will suffer. For example, if you place too much importance on the scheduling needs of the employees, business operations will suffer or come to a standstill. If, on the other hand, you decide to favor the scheduling needs of the business over the needs of the workers, employees’ performance and morale will decrease, and this, as expected, will affect the business negatively.

The key to effective employee scheduling, therefore, lies in balancing employee scheduling needs and business scheduling needs.

Business Scheduling Needs
The scheduling needs or requirements of your business will depend on the type of business you operate and vary from department to department.

Business scheduling needs could include-

  • The need to schedule enough coverage during peak hours.
  • The need to provide good customer service.
  • The need to manage or control high turnover rates, a common challenge in the restaurant industry.
  • The need to control labor costs, which is manageable by creating schedules that eliminate or reduce overtime, under scheduling, and over scheduling.
  • The need to comply with employment laws.
  • Etc.
Employee Scheduling Needs
Some of the scheduling needs of your employees may include the following listed below.

Some of the scheduling needs of your employees may include the following-
  • Enough lead time, i.e., an advanced notice regarding their schedules as last-minute notices disrupt their work-life balance.
  • Shifts that align with their lifestyle. For instance, a night shift is likely more suitable for an employee who is single, rather than a worker who is married and has a family to look after.
  • The desire to fill shifts and roles that go hand-in-hand with their strengths and capabilities.
  • The ability to self-manage shift swaps, pick extra shifts and send time-off requests without a lot of complications.
Armed with information, you can then set out to create schedules that balance the key factors to employee scheduling. If you have no idea what your employees want, sit down with them, and allow them to share their needs. Of course, you may not be in a position to comply with each scheduling need presented to you, but you will, at least, be able to balance everything in a way that doesn’t affect your business negatively.

The Step-By-Step Guide to Effective Employee Scheduling

Let’s now take a look at the easy 4-step guide to scheduling your employees effectively.

1. Determine Your Work Production Standards
You will need to find out how long an employee needs to successfully complete a particular task. You can then repeat a similar procedure for that job role in your business.

2. Examine Your Activity Levels Over the Past Few Days or Weeks
The next step is to scrutinize your activity levels over the past few weeks, i.e., find out how busy or slow your business has been for the last few weeks. For example, if you operate a restaurant, how has business been during Sunday nights for the last couple of weeks? Your POS system should be able to provide this kind of insight based on your sales reports.

Armed with information, you can decide on the number and type of workers you are likely to require during your hours of operation for a particular day. You don’t need to determine your labor needs manually as a forecasting tool, like Zip Forecast, can predict your activity levels for a particular day, period, or timeslot based on your sales reports with a single click. Plus, when used together with your employee scheduling software, Zip Forecast will automatically give you an idea of the number and type of employees you need to schedule during a specific timeslot. When integrated with an inventory management tool, you can keep an eye on your inventory from your mobile phone, and get alerts when you are running low on supplies.

3. Factor in Your Scheduling Needs and the Scheduling Needs of Your Employees
To balance the needs of your workers and the needs of your business, here are some useful tips.

  • Match shifts according to qualifications and capabilities.
  • Create employee schedules in advance to allow for enough lead time.
  • Distribute shifts fairly.
  • Define employee roles clearly.
  • Allow shift-swapping when appropriate.
  • Make it easy for employees to forward their time-off requests.
  • Provide a way for employees to pick up open shifts.
  • Plan for unexpected circumstances, such as absenteeism.
  • Comply with labor laws. A quality employee scheduling tool should be able to notify you of any laws you are about to break.
4. Create Your Employee Schedule
You can now create your daily, weekly, or monthly employee schedule based on your preferences. To create an employee schedule, there are 3 main methods you can utilize.

1) Pen and paper
2) Excel or Google spreadsheets
3) Employee scheduling software

Using the pen and paper method is by far the cheapest way to create employee schedules, but it’s also the most time-consuming and error-prone method. Employee scheduling software is by now the most preferred scheduling method as it comes with many benefits beyond scheduling. For example, a quality system can notify you of any scheduling conflicts, suggest changes, send notifications, allow group communication, and enable shift swapping among many other benefits, some of which we have already discussed in this post.

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