There are times when working a full shift is not feasible. For many employees, paid leave is not an option if they need time off for a doctor’s appointment or to stay home with a sick child. They also understand that their employer expects them to work the hours to which they committed.
What are your options as an employer who hired people, created a work schedule and assigned employees to work? Do you make an exception, knowing it will leave a shift unattended, and grant their time off request? Or, do you develop a policy that gives employees flexibility?
These are not trick questions. Life happens to everyone and some employees simply need time to deal with unexpected events.
Not every business can have a work-from-home policy. Yet as a business owner or HR professional, you know the importance of keeping hardworking employees who are motivated and loyal.
One way to keep your strong talent is to implement an easy process for employees to swap their shifts. The following information will help you facilitate the process of creating a shift swap policy to keep happy employees and to have a smooth running business.
Post Schedules in Advance of the Work Week
Have a system where you can broadcast open shifts to your employees as far in advance as possible. Giving employees only a couple of days to know when they are scheduled to work places them in a space of uncertainty.
An employee may need to travel out of town for their parents’ wedding anniversary. Short notice means they will most likely get an expensive flight. Some employees might call off and leave your department understaffed.
Giving employees their assigned schedules at least two weeks in advance reduces this unnecessary tension. Another employee can fill the gap.
Keep Schedules as Consistent as Possible
Keeping a consistent schedule is easy if you are in an industry where regular office hours are the norm. However, this may not be the case if you are in the hospitality or restaurant industry.
There are peak times and non-peak times. You probably experience varying needs during different seasons. The inconsistent nature makes it harder to have the same schedule week-to-week, which means you have to balance staff with business needs.
One tip is to find out your employees’ preferences. Some people want to work Monday thru Friday. Others may prefer working overnight shifts. Knowing this, you can keep them on the same schedule each week. Employees always know when they are expected to work.
Use Mobile Technology for a Quicker Process
Highly advanced scheduling software that includes a mobile feature makes swapping easier. Without being onsite, employees can initiate the request to accept a shift or post their shift for someone else to request.
The electronic process mirrors the manual process. An employee submits an available shift for coworkers to view. Someone accepts the available hours. The manager approves or denies the request.
Instead of going back and forth, emailing or calling the manager to approve the shift swap, notifications are sent immediately. This helps to minimize the possibility that a shift goes uncovered.
Allow Employees to Swap Split Shifts
Consider a policy that also allows employees to split shifts. An employee may only need to take four hours off. Rather than requiring a full day off, you only have to worry about filling half of the employee’s shift.
To be even more flexible and accommodating, two employees could work two hours each. A similar policy could apply to an entire eight-hour shift. One employee from a previous shift could take the first half; another employee can come in early and cover the second half.
Use Your Shift Swap Policy to Encourage Collaboration
Foster a culture of collaboration within the company. This gives employees a sense of pride knowing that everybody is working towards a common goal. When everyone holds this belief, they are more committed to working and living up to the standards that are set.
Everyone feels better when this is the atmosphere that greets them. No one want to let the team down, which means those who volunteer to work an available shift will show up. That can be the flip side of implementing a policy that allows schedule swapping.
Instead of leaving the task in the hands of management to oversee shift changes, you will develop a self-sufficient workforce. Inclusiveness lets everyone look out for the best interest of their coworkers and the company.
Shift swapping might look slightly different, but the need for coverage is the same everywhere. Develop and execute a plan that is compatible with your business needs and culture.