Scheduling employees is a repetitive but necessary part of managing a business. While it might seem straightforward, there can be some bumps in the road while navigating employee availability, balanced workloads, and planning for the unexpected. Read on for our top ten tips for creating employee schedules.

10 Employee Scheduling Tips:

  1. Get to know your employees
  2. Check employee availability
  3. Schedule the right people for the job
  4. Divide the work fairly
  5. Schedule in advance
  6. Make it easy for employees to access their schedules
  7. Establish a clear shift trading policy
  8. Account for seasonal changes in demand
  9. Plan for emergencies
  10. Choose a scheduling method that fits your needs
  • Get to know your employees

    It may sound cliché but knowing your team does make a difference. When choosing whom to schedule for specific shifts, that person’s background and goals can make a huge difference in how the job gets done. While it might not be possible to take every employee out for lunch to get to know them better, taking moments to ask about their lives can go a long way in building trust and building better schedules.

  • Check employee availability

    It can be easy to get into a rhythm when scheduling employees. You reach a point where you know who is available on what day and at what time without checking the availability spreadsheets. But… We still recommend regularly checking employee availability while working on employee schedules. If an employee recently adjusted their availability or submitted a time-off request, then that quick glance can save everyone from a big headache later.

  • Schedule the right people for the job

    Nothing is worse than starting the workday and realizing your team is not prepared for the job at hand. While scheduling, it’s important to choose employees who have the knowledge and skills needed to complete the job or those who are ready and able to be trained.

  • Divide the work fairly

    It might be tempting to schedule your most efficient or charismatic employees more often than others. When you divide the work fairly, though, there’s a greater chance of long-term success for the whole team. Those already working hard will rest while giving those who have more to learn the opportunity. It’s also important to remember that your employees have expectations about how many hours or what types of tasks they were hired to do. It’s your job as their employer to try to meet those expectations whenever possible.

  • Schedule in advance

    We all like a little heads up – especially for something as important as our work schedules. Creating and sharing employee schedules in advance is standard practice, but one that can easily slip if it’s not kept a priority. In fast-moving industries with continually changing sales cycles and clients, aiming to create and share employee schedules 10-14 days in advance is standard and do-able in most cases. Scheduling in advance also allows you to make adjustments leading up to the work week and offers employees the chance to plan and prepare for their shifts.

  • Make it easy for employees to access their schedules

    Whether you create schedules virtually or with a pencil and paper, giving employees easy access to their schedules is essential for team communication. We recommend having a process or system in place to quickly share all of your employees’ schedules via email or an online portal. Then, there’s almost no excuse for employees not knowing when and where they are scheduled to work.

  • Establish a clear shift trading policy

    Life happens. Employees need to stay home with sick children or want to take a long weekend for some much-needed rest. Instead of being short-staffed, allowing employees to trade shifts can be the perfect solution. Whether you allow your employees to trade shifts via a group chat or through an online portal requiring your approval, clearly establishing policies and procedures for shift trading is essential.

  • Account for seasonal changes in demand

    Just as life happens, seasons happen. Sales cycles and the literal changing of seasons often affect business in significant ways. Keeping track of your business’s sales cycles and seasonal trends can help you determine how many employees to schedule for a given time and what types of roles you might need to fill.

  • Plan for emergencies

    Sometimes trading shifts and having employees on-call isn’t enough. Emergencies happen, and while it’s impossible to plan for every “what-if” scenario, you should try. For example, we recommend scheduling employees that know how to do another employee’s tasks, like cashiering, so that if an emergency does happen, that employee could step in without your customers knowing the difference.

  • Choose a scheduling method that fits your needs

    There are three common ways to schedule your employees: using pen and paper, using an excel spreadsheet, or using employee scheduling software. While handwriting and using a spreadsheet are the more cost-effective solutions up-front, these methods often take time that should be spent on other managerial tasks. Software, like Chronotek, makes scheduling employees easy and fast. We recommend looking at how much time you or your managers spend on employee scheduling compared to how much a scheduling tool would cost. You might find that it’s the perfect time-saving solution for your business.