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Small Business Tips

5 Tips for Making Employee Scheduling Easy

Manasa Reddigari

Are your employees no-shows more often than they show up to work on time? Your employee schedule may need a tune-up.

Read on for tips for effective employee scheduling.

What is employee scheduling?

Employee scheduling involves making a master schedule. It sets the work hours for part- and full-time employees. Employee scheduling should meet staffing needs. It should also avoid scheduling conflicts, boost output and reduce costs.

How do you schedule employees?

Employee scheduling entails four steps:

1. Identify needs. Determine the roles you need to fill and the days, times and locations at which you need to fill them. Let's say you run a food truck business. You may need only one cook and one cashier on Saturday evening between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m at one event space. Specific days and times may be unavailable for scheduling. Scheduling conflicts may be due to weekends or national or company holidays. You should block out these dates first so that you know availability.

2. Review existing resources. Review the exemption status, suitability and availability of staff members for each shift. An employee's exemption status dictates whether you must pay him or her overtime. Non-exempt employees get paid overtime. Exempt employees do not need to get paid overtime. Suitability should factor in whether a worker has the skills to fill the role. Availability should factor in whether a worker can be at the job site at a determined time and place. This means the worker has no scheduling conflicts, vacation, family or sick leave.

3. Assign resources. Map an available and suitable staff member to each shift. Make sure equipment or vehicles are also present during a shift.

4. Communicate the schedule. Communicate your employee schedule at least two weeks before it begins. You can keep an employee schedule in a central physical location like a bulletin board. Better yet, store it in a particular file location that all workers at your business can access at any time.

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What are some apps that can help schedule employees?

Go old school and make an employee schedule on a whiteboard or paper. Or, create one in spreadsheet software such as Excel. Mobile apps are the most portable solution for employee scheduling. Here are a few top apps to enlist for the task of scheduling your employees:

  • Fantastical 2. This app with voice command support makes scheduling easy. Reminders and alerts keep workers on time.
  • When I Work. This app gives managers and employees flexibility on and off the job. Business owners can add and publish shifts, message employees and share shift changes. Employees can trade shifts, see who is working with them and clock in and out.

Five tips for employee scheduling

Enlist these tips when scheduling employees:

  • Do proper vetting. Your workers may need special credentials to do a job legally. It's important to confirm these credentials upon hiring. Then, stay on top of their expiry date over time. Having this knowledge ensures that employees are up-to-date with their credentials.
  • Consider employee preferences. If you don't have a staffing shortage, try to set hours in a way that suits employees. Let employees do the jobs they're most interested in at times they prefer to work. Staying aware of their preferences will keep employees engaged and happy.
  • Reward good attendance. One of the best ways to discourage shift no-shows is to reward workers who show up on time to their shifts. Offer these workers small but meaningful perks. For example, you can gift them with free products or more control over future shifts.
  • Allow shift swapping. Trading a shift with another worker is better than canceling it last minute. Giving employees the ability to switch shifts can reduce absenteeism.
  • Have a Rolodex of temp workers. When your budget allows, build a pool of temporary workers at the outset of your business. If no qualified staff member is available for a particular shift, you can fill it with a temp worker.

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