How to Create a Shift Swapping Policy
How to Create a Shift Swapping Policy

How to Create a Shift Swapping Policy

When Life Happens, Employees Swap Shifts

In a survey of retail managers conducted by scheduling technology company WorkJam, 62% said they had sales associates quit due to ongoing scheduling conflicts. It’s important to your company’s retention efforts that, if you have shift workers, you fully understand that sometimes “life happens” and your employees will occasionally need to switch up their schedules.

Shift Swapping Needs to be Strategic

Of course, companies need consistency and dependability when scheduling staff, and employees also need the flexibility to adapt to the demands of life with doctor’s visits, kids, spouses and aging parents. But these requirements don’t necessarily have to work against each other. A well-thought-out shift swapping policy can work for both sides and help ensure that both the company and its employees get the staff scheduling they need.

Pro Tip: Every employee handbook should have a section on shift swapping policies. Don’t have a handbook? Here’s are 8 reasons why you should consider building one.

4 Tips to Creating a Successful Shift Swapping Policy

  1. Determine which employees can swap shifts
    You can’t allow every staff member to have the ability to put in swap requests for every shift. And you definitely want to make sure that a bunch of your lower performing employees don’t suddenly accept swaps that your A-listers request off. You also need to ensure that your employees can’t swap shifts with another employee who works a different department or position. It’s a good idea to ensure that staff can only swap shifts with an employee who has equal training, experience and performance.
  2. Require manager approval
    Don’t let staff swap shifts willy-nilly! Managers need the ability to review requests and approve them.
  3. Make sure there’s an off-switch for last-minute requests
    For example, make sure that any shift changes that are requested 12 hours or less prior to a shift are automatically routed to a manager for review and approval.
  4. Keep an eye on overtime pay
    This is really important. Overtime can easily get out of hand if no one is minding the shop when it comes to shift changes. You need to have a system that’s set up to monitor hours and decline a shift change request if it would put that person over their weekly hours.

Technology and shift swapping


In 2017, Center for WorkLife Law partnered with clothing retailer The Gap to understand if mobile scheduling systems, mostly controlled by employees, would work for the company. WorkLife Law gave study participants at some Gap locations access to a smart phone app that enabled employees to offer shifts they couldn’t work into a pool. Other workers could snag the shifts on a first-come, first-served basis without manager approval.

The experiment was a success

During the more than six-month trial period, over 60% of The Gap’s employees used the new app. To the company’s surprise, nearly 50% of workers who were aged 50+ used the app to swap shifts. Ninety-five percent of the company’s part-time employees said that having the ability to exchange shifts helped them modify their work schedules around their personal lives, while 97% applauded the system for aiding them in securing more hours when they needed them.

How Paycor Helps

Need a time and attendance system that delivers results? Paycor’s shift swapping system allows employees to drop, pick up or request shift changes in real time. With intuitive drag and drop functionality, you can assign shifts and publish schedules with only a few clicks.


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