4 Essential Employee Scheduling Tips for Small Businesses

Small Businesses

Employee scheduling is an intricate task. You juggle forecasting personnel needs, handling requests and preferences, and ensure ample coverage of every shift. What’s more, you have to manage your labor costs, comply with related regulations, and maximize your productivity.

That’s why employee scheduling is critical for businesses of all sizes. Done right, shift rostering contributes to a terrific working experience and high satisfaction and retention rates. 

Check out four essential tips for streamlining your small business’ employee scheduling tasks:

1. Know your labor needs and employees.

Planning your employee schedules entails understanding the required labor resources to satisfy operational goals. First, identify the specific resources necessary for every role according to shift duration and location (if applicable). Define the crucial qualifications for each shift assignment.

Next, know your employees and the aspects influencing their suitability with their shifts. This gives you plenty of flexibility to mix and match their abilities, personalities, etc., for a functional working schedule. By combining more adept workers and less experienced ones, you can smooth out your daily operations.

Consider these factors when evaluating ideal employees for each shift:

  • Relevant skills and certifications
  • Tenure and working status (full-time or part-time)
  • Availability
  • Overtime limitations (after-work household care, physical and mental well-being, and more)
  • Personality types (introverted, outgoing, amiable, and others)
  • Strengths and weaknesses (e.g., detail-orientedness, works best in groups, etc.)
  • Other useful notes

When putting your schedules together, you can quickly refer to this list. This makes it easier to find the best employee to build your shifts around and fill in any scheduling gaps.

Additionally, pool together highly flexible employees you can readily tap when a shift gets understaffed. These can include part-time workers, contingent personnel, and even full-time staff members seeking overtime opportunities. 

Through this, you reduce your stress from finding last-minute subs and reacting to unexpected absences, especially when the next shift is nearing.

2. Schedule employee shifts with efficient apps.

Scheduling and managing your employees’ shifts through spreadsheets, bulletin boards, and other manual methods eats up time and productivity. 

Because employee shifts are dynamic, you’re constantly editing and delegating hours to your personnel. Spreadsheets are error-prone; bulletin board markings can be erased. They lack functionalities that are crucial in handling always-changing shifts.

That is why shift rostering is easier with an app. Employee scheduling software eliminates the confusion in organizing shifts and streamlines the entire task.

Modern shift-rostering apps have automation, artificial intelligence (AI), integrations, time tracking, and several other capabilities. They also let you manage employee schedules — and more — in one place.

This software typically has user-friendly dashboards for calendar overviews, task and shift delegations, data analytics, generating reports, etc.

Because of their AI-powered components, the software can automatically schedule shifts based on your employees’ skill sets, availability, and more. They can help monitor timesheets and instantly integrate attendance and productivity into the payroll.

Shift-rostering apps even empower your employees to swap schedules directly with their colleagues and adjust them accordingly. You can even communicate with your team straight from the platform for any shift concerns.

Moreover, the employee scheduling software displays the adjustments made to the schedules  in real-time. This way, everyone can see who’s filling in as a replacement for every shift, when a team member is available, and more.

With these and other software features, you can simplify your employee scheduling tasks, work comprehensively, and focus on more business-critical operations.

3. Streamline and nurture remote communication.

Active communication is essential in coordinating shifts and schedule changes with and among your team. That’s why you should install robust systems to help streamline and nurture it — especially if you’re working remotely, under flexible and rotating schedules, or between several office locations.

Shift-rostering apps have built-in chat, SMS, and email systems, push notifications, and automated GPS time clocks you can leverage. (This makes them one of the must-use tools for every business.) You can even use virtual conference platforms for more interactive, time-flexible schedule-swapping negotiations.

Besides these technologies, implement healthy communication practices throughout all levels of your company. 

For instance, create and publish schedules well in advance (two weeks ahead is excellent) and notify your workers about it. This lets them calendar the days and hours and plan their personal lives appropriately. When shift changes happen, inform the affected team member immediately. Ensure these working calendars are accessible to you, your managers, and your personnel 24/7.

4. Honor your staff’s work preferences and time-off requests.

Respecting your personnel’s work preferences builds goodwill, boosts employee satisfaction, and helps you keep excellent workers. It shows that you genuinely care about your human resources and understand their needs. It also lets you honor and preserve their work-life balance. (This relates to the factors to consider when scheduling employees, as discussed earlier.)

Before finalizing the schedules, ask your employees about their circumstances and willingness to take on specific shifts. Understand that some of them are highly interested in working more hours, while others have essential obligations to consider first.

However, to balance employees’ work preferences and your operational needs, set up policies governing your scheduling process. Address matters such as when the staff can and can’t submit time-off requests and how far ahead they should apply for leaves. Align these rules to your current business conditions, and be as specific as possible. 

Additionally, set rules for deciding between overlapping requests (such as during holidays). You can tailor the decision-making criteria to fit each situation, but always consider the reason for the request, your small business’ welfare, the application’s date of submission, seniority, etc. 

Explain these things to your employees to make your process transparent and fair and remove any suspicions of favoritism. This helps please everyone, streamline operations, and avoid conflicts between involved parties.

Regularly practice these employee scheduling tips.

Efficient employee scheduling doesn’t have to be rocket science if you take the correct approaches. Tailor them to fit your business needs and dynamics and adapt those that consistently work best for your company. Remember, a cheerful, productive workforce can steer your small business to success — so optimize your employee scheduling tasks to help you attain your goals in time. 

Cover Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

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