According to a poll by Gallup, 38% of U.S. workers feel their organizations are understaffed, 52% say their company has the right number of employees, and 8% say their organization is overstaffed.
What do understaffing and overstaffing have in common?
They both cost your company plenty of money. Being too fat results in unnecessary payroll expenses, while being too lean has a negative impact on productivity, quality, and ultimately profits.
Yet finding the right staffing balance can be a real challenge, employee scheduling software can help! Markets fluctuate, demand changes, and sudden booms can be followed by unexpected declines. In other situations, scheduling errors result in too many or too few workers, or in workers who don’t have the correct skill sets for the job. All of these scenarios have a negative impact on your organization.
Scheduling is as much a concern as it is a necessity for every manager and supervisor. Quite naturally, the lack of an effective process can feel unnerving.
After all, employees are needed to accomplish tasks and deliver services to customers, which is essential to have a strong company. In addition, it may hurt employee morale when they are not scheduled in a way that serves their skills and needs.
The person who is in charge of scheduling staff only makes matters worse when he or she is encumbered with a manual process that involves:
- Employee requests
- Availability calendars
- Large spreadsheets
Before you know it, the scheduler – who often it the manager – has a new job spending full weeks developing, editing and publishing employee schedules. This is neither the most efficient nor effective way to complete this task.
A well-managed system will build confidence for managers seeking better answers to “what is the easiest way to schedule my employees?” You want to ensure managers have a process that keeps the company moving.
An even better system will resolve complex situations that may arise with scheduling conflicts. Here are seven ways to make the employee scheduling process better for the company, managers and employees.
1. Know the staff working for your organization.
The first step towards a better way to scheduling is to create a staff list of current employees. Include their position along with department, relevant skills and certifications. Additional information should indicate whether they are full-time, part-time or contractors.
Overtime restrictions, cross trainings and preferred work hours are useful when determining when and where is the best place for employees to work.
2. Keep the communication line open at all times.
You cannot avoid the fact that employees will have non-work related issues that will require time off. Unless you have proper coordination like requesting availability, your department heads will have scheduling conflicts.
A good way to remedy these situations is to have a clear line of communication with employees. There should be a standard procedure that alerts managers when a shift is understaffed. Whether the time off was planned or unplanned, managers should not be surprised.
Advanced scheduling gives employees time to review their shifts. They can request time off if necessary or even swap shifts with a coworker. This gives managers enough time to find a replacement so critical deadlines are still met.
3. Develop a process for employees to submit their preferred working schedule.
Giving employees a chance to communicate their preferences for work hours is a chance to promote collaboration. Additionally, knowing preferences allows managers to place employees in work shifts that are convenient for both sides.
4. Keep schedules easily accessible.
Once the schedule is created, you need to ensure it is easily accessible to all parties. Typically, employees might forget to look at a schedule, even if it is posted in the break room.
Implement a system that allows managers to send email notifications to employees when a new schedule is posted. Keep schedules in one centralized place for consistency.
5. Have an emergency plan.
As much as you begin to rely on an efficient system, it is good practice to have an emergency backup in mind. With a plan B, managers are not scrambling to fill a spot when even the most dependable employee has a family emergency.
Tools such as an availability list and shift trades will keep managers in control of work shifts that get interrupted by employee absences.
6. Use employee scheduling software.
Technology makes it easier than ever to coordinate employees and keep an organized workflow. Installing an employee scheduling software system will dramatically simplify the process of assigning employees to work shifts.
Not only can managers post weekly schedules, but they can also post monthly schedules well in advance. This is especially useful during holidays when employees are planning family time away from the job.
Managers can use the system to notify employees via email alerts or text messages of their upcoming schedules. Common features that will streamline the scheduling process for any company include:
- Warnings when there is a scheduling conflict
- Monitoring of employee availability
- Managing employee knowledge, skills and abilities
- Tracking clock in and out times
- Tracking labor costs
7. Schedule employees according to their talents and skills
Understaffed environments may force managers to fill shift positions with employees who are not the best fit. This can affect morale and work product quality. Scheduling the right person for the job is essential to having a good scheduling system.
Effective scheduling systems provide conflict management resolutions to ensure managers can produce error-free schedules while delivering flexibility to handle departmental needs. Covering shifts with the most skilled and communicating with employees can make this important process the perfect answer for managers who want to know how to “schedule my employees?”
8. Analyze past data
Use your automated time and attendance system to look at past trends, and make note of demand increases and decreases in the past. This historical data can give you plenty of insight on why and when demand fluctuates, so you can make smart staffing decisions in the figure.
9. Ensure a balanced allocation of skills
In order for a shift to operate efficiently, it must be staffed by those with the correct skills. Software that allows you to see at a glance who is scheduled, and what their skills are, will allow you to fill in gaps before they become an issue.
10. Reduce absenteeism
Unscheduled absenteeism is one of the most common reasons for understaffing. Unscheduled absences result in either lean shifts or in overtime, both of which are less than ideal for your organization. Take control of unscheduled absences by tracking trends with automatic workforce management software. Tracking absences with employee attendance management software will help you deal with issues before they become costly problems.
11. Put employees in the driver’s seat
Give employees access to time and attendance software with self-service functionality. This feature allows employees to check the amount of sick and vacation time they have, and to request time off directly through the system. It also allows them to manage and report their own shift swaps. When employees are empowered in this way, fewer scheduling mistakes occur.
12. Track overtime
If data shows that you are consistently scheduling overtime, your organization is too lean. Not only is overtime costly, it results in tired employees.