The Complete Guide To The Best Employee Scheduling Process

Coffee shop worker taking a customers order

Effective employee scheduling involves a long list of variables that dramatically affect the way your business works.

Even the smallest business has to consider their own schedule, their employees’ schedules, time-off requests, no-shows, substitutes, backups, distribution, accessibility, communication, and employee engagement.

The list goes on and on, and each component has a profound effect on the way your team and your business operate. It’s imperative, then, that you make the right choices when it’s time to put together a new schedule.

To help you in that regard, we’ve compiled a list of best practices for employee scheduling that you can use to make the process as efficient and effective as possible.

Best Practices For Employee Scheduling

Girl looking at her employee scheduling app

1) Release The Schedule With Plenty Of Lead Time

A key contributor to the success of your employee scheduling process is creating the schedule itself with plenty of lead time.

Doing so gives your team ample time to plan their lives and the opportunity to:

  • Reschedule personal obligations
  • Trade shifts with other employees
  • Find substitutes if need be

It also allows enough time for you to make the inevitable changes without throwing the entire schedule into disarray.

If you’re not sure how much lead time to give, a good rule of thumb is two weeks. But if you find that that’s too much or too little lead time, you can tweak the release date so that it works for your business.

2) Create A Custom Template

Creating your own custom template cuts down on a lot of the work involved in the employee scheduling process.

With a template, you can set the fonts, borders, colors, and format of the document so you don’t have to recreate the wheel every time you schedule your team. You can even schedule full-time and part-time employees in certain shifts if you know they’ll be working these on a regular basis.

Then, when it’s time to organize the schedule for the next week, month, or quarter, you can jump right into assigning employees to their respective shifts rather than worrying about what the schedule is going to look like.

3) Make The Schedule Easy To Read

When organizing your workforce, one of the best things you can do — for your own sanity and the sanity of your employees — is to keep the schedule as simple and easy to read as possible.

If your team members have to read closely and really think about what they’re seeing in order to decipher the timetable, consider making some changes, reducing the amount of information on the page, or simplifying the appearance.

They should be able to look at the schedule and figure out the day, the hours, and the job they’ll work in a matter of seconds. If it takes any longer than that, your schedule has some problems.

Here’s an easy test to see if you need to tweak the agenda slightly:

  1. Create the schedule as usual
  2. Concentrate on something else for a while (30 minutes minimum)
  3. Get the schedule out, but don’t look at it
  4. Pick an employee (employee A, for example)
  5. Start a stopwatch
  6. Look at the schedule and see how long it takes to figure out when employee A works next

If it takes more than 30 seconds, you may need to brainstorm how you can make the schedule easier to read.

4) Take Advantage Of Automated Employee Scheduling

Checking employee scheduling app

Automated employee scheduling is a process that uses data from your business, user-defined parameters, and artificial intelligence to select the best team member for a particular shift.

For example, imagine you need to schedule a field service technician for the morning shift on May 11. With automated scheduling, you can instruct your software to sort through relevant information, find a candidate, and insert them into the schedule.

But does this really save that much time?

Imagine that it takes you five minutes to find all the data you need to make an informed decision about who should work as a field service technician on May 11. That’s not bad, but you need 10 techs to cover that shift.

If it takes you five minutes to schedule one technician, it’s going to take you 50 minutes total for all 10 techs. And that’s just one position for one shift on one day. Multiply that by the number of positions, shifts, and days that you have to fill, and it could take hours to get everything done.

Automated scheduling does all the work for you — in a fraction of the time it would take you to do it manually.

5) Prepare For Things To Go Wrong

Even the best schedule can fall apart if enough things go wrong. Emergencies will come up. Employees will forget their shifts. Team members will get sick. It’s inevitable, and you can’t always control it. But you can prepare for it.

Put a procedure in place to handle these emergencies (a plan B, if you will), and then take it one step further so that you have a plan C for your plan B.

An example of this preparation would be making a list of trusted and reliable part-time team members who are willing to work at a moment’s notice.

You can also put together a list of former employees who left on good terms, and even prospective employees whom you interviewed but didn’t hire, to serve as backups to your backups.

Preparing like this beforehand means that you won’t have to scramble around trying to come up with options to fill shifts. You’ll know where to look and what to do to find a replacement.

6) Provide Easy Access To The Schedule

A big part of effective employee scheduling is distribution and accessibility. Even the perfect schedule released with plenty of lead time is useless if it’s not easy to access.

Your employees need to be able to reference the schedule at work, at home, and on the go, so posting a paper copy in the break room no longer works as an effective means of distribution. It’s easily accessible to those at work, but it’s not accessible to those at home or on the go.

Similarly, handing out a paper copy of the schedule doesn’t work as well as it once did. Many employees have gone digital and would likely lose or forget to reference a paper copy.

And while you may think the digital solution is email, think again. Some of your employees may not use email as often as they once did anymore. Using this tool to distribute your schedule would just be a waste of time.

Storing your schedule in the cloud is the most convenient way to provide easy access for all your employees all the time. Employees can simply log on from their mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer to find out when they work next.

Harness The Power Of Employee Scheduling Software

employee scheduling software

Want to incorporate these best practices in your business? Harness the power of employee scheduling software to get the job done right.

Business-focused apps such as Inch — a voice-operated workforce schedule and management app — offer a wide range of tools that simplify and streamline the employee scheduling process so you can create the best workflow possible and still have time to focus on tasks that drive your business forward.

And upgrading won’t cost an arm and a leg over the programs that you’re used to. Inch gives you free access to everything you need to schedule employees and handle internal communication for unlimited users and locations.

In addition, Inch incorporates task management and time tracking in one powerful solution and makes it easier for managers and employees to get aligned on their to-dos, ensuring that all tasks get completed on time.

Inch also simplifies communication. And employees can perform a wide variety of tasks from their tablet or phone, including:

  • Working from a shared task list
  • Getting clarity on work that needs to be done
  • Receiving voice-assisted reminder notifications
  • Clocking in and out of tasks at different locations
  • Completing work assigned to them
  • Communicating with managers and each other

All of that and more without having to touch a mobile screen or report back to the office.

For managers, Inch makes it easy to distribute tasks manually across teams or populate tasks automatically based on preset conditions. This feature ensures that all work is covered and keeps employees accountable for their responsibilities, expected outcomes, and deadlines.

Managers can also assign work to the employees that are closest to the job site or generate tasks automatically as the need arises and follow work progress and task completion in real time.

Inch helps eliminate frustration for employees, headaches for managers, and inefficiencies for the business.

Whether you need help setting up when each team member will work or what tasks they will perform, Inch gives you unprecedented control over an inherently complicated process and makes it easier than ever to create the best scheduling process for your team and your business.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit today.

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