Many businesses rely on a mixture of full and part-time staff working varying shift patterns. Scheduling around your employees’ personal commitments, managing ad-hoc changes and requests, as well as the general day-to-day running of a company can be difficult no matter the size of your business and can quickly consume much of your time.

Most managers will be familiar with schedules that resemble a corrected piece of homework with lots of crossings out and scribbles. Paper schedules also risk getting lost or ignored by staff, which means starting again with more phone calls and time wasted.

The good news is that there are now easy ways to avoid all of these problems and claim back hours of your time each week.

Here are some tips to make your employee scheduling a quick and easy task.

1. Move scheduling online

Gone are the days of losing scraps of paper and constantly crossing names out until you can’t read who is actually working. Well we hope they are! Using an online employee scheduling tool can help both you and your employees in monitoring and updating schedules and save loads of time too.

Employees are able to log-in from their phone to check their schedule and will even get a notification the second something changes. If you aren’t already using an online system then this should be the number one change to save you time, money and a lot of unnecessary stress.

2. Know your employees

Make sure you understand your staff and their needs from when they begin working for you. Being certain you have clear details of when employees can and can’t work for you will ensure you don’t keep scheduling people on the wrong days.

You should also know who does what, so you are scheduling the right person for the right shift and making the best use of people’s skills. Trying to minimise any unnecessary changes from the beginning can help save time later down the line.

Good online scheduling systems will have staff profiles for each employee where you can keep notes of all this information, and more.

3. Plan for the worst

If you know it is likely to get busier one week then make sure you have people on standby or know who is available to work at the last minute. If you are able to schedule people to be on stand-by in case of absences this can help diminish last minute panics. Depending on the business there could always still be something for extra staff to work on if they aren’t needed on their usual task.

4. Provide clear guidelines for shift changes

Being transparent from the start about how and when employees are allowed to change or swap their shifts is key to making sure changes are kept to a minimum.

Have deadlines for when staff need to send in their availability, when they can make changes and what kinds of changes they can make. When staff are constantly swapping shifts between each other this can cause problems on the day, especially when different team members have different roles, meaning work may not be properly covered if the wrong people have swapped shifts.

Though you want to have clear rules, there will always be exceptions, so understanding and allowing for last minute changes under exceptional circumstances will also go a long way to keeping your employees engaged with your business.

Ultimately better staff scheduling means a better run and more profitable business. Making sure you have the right amount of people for the right job can ensure work is done properly and to a high standard.

Now what are you going to do with all your newfound free time?

Written By
Jenny Lowthrop is a freelance writer, digital marketing consultant and travel blogger at She Gets Around. She has run two small businesses and a charity and believes in finding the fun in every task no matter how trivial.

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