Creating the best employee schedules is always a balancing act. In one corner, there’s the needs of the business - the desire to have the right people in the right place at the right time - and in the opposite corner, there’s the employees - and the need to keep them happy and engaged.
On top of that, there’s so many different elements to consider; employee requests and availability, budgeted hours, times of peak business, shift patterns, employment law...it’s no surprise in larger organisations creating a schedule can take days if not weeks to get right. And then, without fail, it will always be changed. Every single day businesses around the world lose valuable time managing a schedule rather than managing their people and their business.
And every business is different. Some will prioritize business optimisation. Others will prioritize employee fairness. Even though you’ll all have different drivers behind the need to create better schedules, the best employee schedules have certain traits in common and, crucially, they deliver the goods for your business and your employees.
Here’s our top tips on how to create the best employee schedules.
1. Be flexible & give your employees choice
Employees crave control and flexibility. They want the ability to be able to choose the shifts they work, easily switch shifts, and take on extra shifts if they need to.
Give your employees the opportunity, when possible, to choose when they work. You might not be able to do this all the time but employees who have control over their schedules perform better and are more engaged.
Employee flexibility is crucial, not just for employee happiness, but for business success. With the right tools and technology in place, flexible working can allow businesses to improve productivity, save time, reduce costs, improve employee retention and boost employee happiness. It may seem like keeping workers to a rigid schedule will keep them productive, but data says that the opposite is true.
Not only do 85% of workers say flexibility makes them more productive – 60% say they view it as a right. Putting power back in the employee’s hands by giving them flexibility will ultimately make for a happier, more productive workforce who provide a better service to your customers, are more loyal and work harder.
2. Prioritize ease-of-use & simplicity
For choice and flexibility to work, the tool you use to create and manage your schedules have to be easy to use. Software with complex functionality is great but it’s no good to anyone if you need a degree in astro-physics to operate it. Mobile-first workforce management systems will all come with an app and this needs to be as simple for the end users (your employees) to operate as the rest of their favourite apps - they should be able to do it without any instructions and with a minimal number of taps on their smart devices. And your managers should be able to optimize schedules and fill empty shifts with the click of a button.
By automating the process involved in creating and managing your schedules, you’ll be able to more effectively control costs, keep your employees happy, provide a better service to your customers, and free up your time for your managers so they can spend it making your business successful rather than trying to manage a schedule.
Whether you’re in the head office creating a schedule for your organization, or an employee clocking in via our app, you’ll want a scheduling solution that provides a seamless experience across desktop, mobile, and tablet. In an ideal world, you should look for a solution which can be used for your scheduling, time reporting and payroll integration, forecasting, employee engagement and communication, task management, and reporting.
3. Understand your business & plan in advance
Understanding how your business works will help you create better schedules. You should know what your busiest times are; when your customers need the most hands-on assistance; and what staffing levels you need to keep everyone happy.
This effective allocation of your resources is an absolute must. Every business has ‘dead’ hours and idle staff. By identifying these, you can then make sure you have the right people, in the right place, at the right time. So much so that it’s possible to spend less on your staff cost while increasing sales, simply by moving your resource around.
Our research shows employees want to know when they are working in advance. If you understand your business - and know when your peak times are - then you can easily create schedules weeks in advance, making life much easier for your employees.
Smarter scheduling is simple and by saving time through optimizing and automating your scheduling you can save money, boost productivity and increase efficiency.
4. Build your schedules around forecasting
It’s impossible for you to build smart schedules without accurate forecasts. Accurate and effective forecasting can mean the difference between turning a profit to making a loss. With advanced forecasting, you can create optimal schedules based on your forecasts and historical data. When you balance your planned costs against your results, you create the most profitable resource plan. Better forecasting goes hand in hand with smarter scheduling and gives you the data you need to make sure you always have the right people in the right place at the right time.
Finally, when you’re putting a rota together, you need to think about the following questions:
Do we have the right number of staff, supervisors and managers?
Are all our time slots and shifts covered?
Have we planned appropriately for our busiest periods?
Are we compliant with the law?
What happens if someone calls in sick?
Are we on budget for what we’re spending on staff overheads?
There’s plenty to think about and schedules have to be created on a regular basis. That’s why more and more businesses across different industries are using workforce management software as a solution to their scheduling problems.
You can download our free guide to cutting costs without cutting staff to see how better scheduling and forecasting can benefit your business.