How to Make Schedules for Employees | 5 Simple Steps
How to Make Schedules for Employees | 5 Simple Steps

How to Make Schedules for Employees | 5 Simple Steps

For managers, creating an employee schedule that makes everyone happy is sometimes an impossible puzzle. Especially in retail and organizations with variable shifts, creating the weekly schedule is a major headache for managers. Balancing the needs of the business, the needs of employees, and developing a streamlined process for successfully scheduling business is no small feat. As daunting and stressful as it can be, this essential and often dreaded task is a critical component to creating a workplace that’s positive and productive.

If you manage a team of employees that work on an hourly basis, you probably already know that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into planning a successful schedule. Perhaps you have already mastered this process, and if so, kudos! If not, and you’re desperate for scheduling tools to make things run more smoothly, this guide will provide you with some best practices that you can adopt and fine-tune for your own business. To design an employee schedule that works for everyone, first determine the needs of your business, factor in labor costs, then create and define policies and expectations, assess employee needs, and finally implement strategies for success.

Define Your Scheduling Requirements

  • Before creating a schedule, first, you have to determine and define the needs of your business. You can’t fill shifts if you don’t know what’s needed and what skills and resources are required for peak performance. When defining your business needs, consider the following:
  • Hours of operation
  • What duties need to be performed during each shift?
  • Are there specific skills or competencies that employees need to possess to perform these duties?
  • Legal implications such as time on the clock and breaks

Preparation and Planning

Do yourself a favor and do some front-end scheduling preparation. It will save you time in the long run, reduce turnover, and provide credibility and build trust with your team. Even when they might think they don’t, people like structure. Don’t leave your employees guessing about what the policy is for sick leave or whether or not they’ll get written up for showing up late. By setting and communicating clear, well-defined expectations, you’ll be a more effective manager and your team will be more confident in your leadership.

Follow these 5 tips for successful employee shift scheduling:

  1. Create and follow policies.

  2. a. Build a core schedule and stick to it
    b. Define and enforce expectations, such as a lateness policy
    c. Approve time-off requests on a first-come, first-served basis
    d. Define the shift-swapping policy

  3. Plan ahead.

  4. Don’t wait until the last week or day of the month to plan for the upcoming month or quarter. The longer ahead you can plan, the better. When employees have their schedules set early, they are less likely to need shifts and swaps.

  5. Determine and define what skills are required for each job and shift.

  6. Depending on your industry, all of your employees might have the same skills and qualifications or they may differ. Create a master schedule that defines what is needed to fulfill each role for every shift time.

  7. Use scheduling software.

  8. There are many tools that you can use to automate scheduling. Today’s HR and employee scheduling technology is incredibly powerful and could save your business hours every week over manual scheduling.

  9. Be flexible and human.

  10. This might seem contradictory, but it’s important to remember that the people you are plugging into the schedule are also human. Things will come up for your employees and there will be times when you have to be nimble, understanding, and pivot from your original plan. A little bit of empathy will go a long way in building trust and respect with your team.

Employee-Centric Scheduling

When creating a schedule that works for everyone, it’s important to take the needs of employees into account. Great company cultures are defined by their people, so the best companies strive to create schedules that work for everyone. When employee morale is high, workers are more likely to show up on time with a positive attitude. It doesn’t always work that way, though. Sometimes there are situations that aren’t ideal for everyone, and this part of the process can get tricky. Clearly defined expectations are critical. Here are some things to consider:

  • Be upfront in the hiring process. Does this job require shifts on nights or weekends? Be sure new hires are able to meet the job requirements. While flexibility is a major draw, if a role is not flexible, it’s best to be transparent about it immediately.
  • Always be fair. Don’t favor certain employees’ scheduling preferences over others.
  • Create opportunities for learning and provide training on policies, systems, and processes.
  • Don’t assume employees already know how optimal scheduling works. If there are scheduling errors, use those as scenarios to illustrate how best practices work.

Implementation and Maintenance

After you’ve defined what the business needs and defined your policies and procedures, it’s time to assign shifts. This can be very complex depending on the size and type of your business.

Be sure to leverage tools to make your job smoother and easier, such as employee self-service portals. By teaching your employees to be responsible, plan ahead, and document their needs, you take some of the scheduling burden off of you and keep them engaged in their jobs. Create and implement shared communication methods. Whether this is email, texting, or an app, determine a way to communicate to the team and set upfront standards for communication. Today there is no shortage of communication tools, and if your workforce embraces new apps like Slack or WhatsApp those could go a long way in creating consistent communication and easier scheduling.

If you’re a seasoned schedule-creator, you know that no schedule is ever set in stone. No matter how much you prepare, things will come up and throw curveballs into your plan. Luckily, knowing this will happen is half the battle. Don’t lose patience when you have to make last-minute changes, as it’s part of the job. You may have to adjust your process moving forward, but keep in mind that you’ll improve the business, efficiency of the workforce, and effectiveness of your team with great planning and preparation.

Paycor Can Help

The heavy lifting of designing employee schedules can be dramatically eased with technology. To see what we mean, see how Paycor’s Scheduling solution can work for your business.

Get Scheduling Expertise

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