A small business manager is always juggling task after task but perhaps the most important one is creating an effective schedule that works for everyone. And when you take into consideration every employee’s availability, cutting labor costs, reducing no-shows, and more, it’s not the easiest thing to do. If at all.
Considering that the Washington Center for Equitable Growth found that less than half (39%) of respondents to their study said they don’t have a regular schedule. That same study went on to say, “Not surprisingly that can lead to unpredictable income issues and difficulty paying bills. The vast majority of those surveyed reported suffering money troubles within the last year. Nearly half of all those surveyed end up working both closing and opening shifts back to back. Many also remain on-call (without pay) in case they’re needed.”
To help better your scheduling process for your own time management and your employee’s satisfaction, we compiled seven tips so you can build an effective schedule.
1. Get it done ahead of time
If you’re creating the schedule at the last minute then you’re more prone to making mistakes! In fact, 16% of employees reported that they receive their schedules with less than a few days’ notice and this only leads to stress, unhappiness, and sleepless nights.
Create your schedule in advance, by a month or more, so that you effectively accommodate your team’s needs and your business needs as well. Consider holidays that are comping up and compare the data from the year before (such as a high number of call-outs), this ensures you have enough employees on the clock.
Most importantly, be sure to talk with your employees about their schedule. Learn what days and times they’re most happy to work, what days they’d like off, and if they want over time. When you have this information available ahead of time then you save a ton of time when you create the schedule. Not only is this a weight off your shoulders but your employees will be a lot happier that you listened and implemented their needs and that translates into better employee engagement.
2. Use the right tools
There’s a saying, “work smarter, not harder”. And that’s where an employee scheduling app comes into play. Employee scheduling apps make it a lot easier to manage your schedule and save time and money. With a scheduling app, you can see everything in a single place instead of sorting through piles of paper requests, scrolling through WhatsApp messages, checking your email, and so on.
Ensure the employee scheduling app includes the following features: calendar view scheduling, automated notifications, GPS status updates, chat, employee notes (video, docs, voice notes, files, pictures, etc.), timeclock, and digital workflows. Additionally, the app should offer drag-and-drop templates so it’s that much easier to edit schedules and you don’t have to start fresh every time.
Your employees will love having instant and real-time access to their schedule while they’re on-the-go. This way, if something comes up, they can instantly communicate this to you so you can take care of it in the click of a button. Should we say time-saver, one more time?!
3. Communication is key
Your employees will work far more effectively together if you have streamlined communication channels. As a manager, it’s far more beneficial to your business when your employees are all in the loop are and are prepared properly as they clock in to start their shift.
Think of it like this, if an employee had to leave just before the closing time due to a family emergency then you need your morning shift to be aware that some tasks may not have been completed the night before. This way, the morning shift knows exactly what they need to do when they clock in to ensure everything runs smoothly. This level of communication leads to a more positive work environment.
Plus when you use an employee scheduling app then you can add tasks and notes to a certain shift. Like if you need the floors to be cleaned or want to let your team know about a hazard.
4. Distribute schedules fairly
Make sure the shifts are fairly rotated among your team and often. Don’t just hand out desirable or convenient shifts to a handful of your employees as this leads to resentment and a negative work environment and culture. Instead, you need to consistent and fair! Don’t play favorites.
5. Keep your employee’s skills in mind
When you’re creating an effective, fair, and balanced schedule, you don’t just need to know when your employees are available but what job duties they are the best fit for. Sure, you want to schedule your highly skilled employees for every shift but they’re not going to be available each and every single time. However, when you schedule strategically then you can make sure that the strongest team possible is on shift.
Each team member has different strengths and weaknesses which means you need to try your best to balance the schedule with this in mind. For instance, if you own a restaurant then you need a variety of employees scheduled for the day. You need cooks, bar staff, a hostess, waiters, and so on, but you should consider pairing a new cook with an experienced one so that you’re maximizing your onboarding and training for the newest workers.
6. Keep it predictable and flexible
When you can create a consistent, or relatively consistent, schedule then your employees will be able to create a healthy work-life balance. Providing your team with stability every week is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Your employees are human after all and they have personal lives outside of work. There will be times when something unexpected happens so leave some room for flexibility. This will allow you to meet the needs of the company and your employees. Forbes reported that 84% of parents said that flexibility was their top priority in the workplace, meaning some wiggle room in the schedule will help you keep your top employees on the payroll.
7. Innovation is key
Sometimes it just doesn’t matter how good your schedule is, unexpected issues will always happen. When this does happen, think outside the box to create an effective schedule. Maybe you have full-time employees who prefer to work 10-hour shifts three or four times a week which can help tremendously when you don’t always have enough staff available for the week. Maybe some employees are keen to work a split-shift so you can address coverage issues. Talk to your employees about what they’re comfortable with and make sure the schedule lines up with this.
Creating an effective schedule is probably something you’d rather put off but, it still has to get done! An employee scheduling app can really help reduce those common headaches as it’s far more organized and automated so you’re more likely to save time and money. Just be sure to keep these seven tips in mind so that creating your next schedule is easier!
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.