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5 Foolproof Tips for Next-Level Employee Scheduling

February 24, 2021

employee scheduling

Rudimentary employee scheduling comprised a pen and paper rota and keeping physical records of workers’ clock in and clock out times: there was a lot of manual labor and calculations involved.

Thankfully, we can automate large parts of employee scheduling, reducing labor costs and freeing up managerial time to spend on more important tasks. 

Yet as we slash the time we spend on employee scheduling thanks to machine learning, there’s a strong case for integrating this task with a variety of other business functions.

By doing this, you save more time and manpower, and – with all of your tasks centralized on one system – ensure fewer mistakes. If you’re in the market for employee scheduling tips, then you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s the lowdown on taking your work schedule to the next level:

What is employee scheduling?

Employee scheduling helps business owners and managers deploy their staff to enhance the customer experience and produce consistent results that align with the company’s strategic objectives.

Put plainly, employee scheduling makes it easier for the company to apply their staff’s skills and knowledge toward the current problems and opportunities they face.

Streamlining the employee scheduling process frees up management to work on more important tasks. It shifts the day-to-day grind of administrative work to one full of proactivity and gusto. It essentially takes you off the defense and puts you back on the offense. 

Why is employee scheduling important? 

Proper employee scheduling will increase productivity, improve employee retention, balance labor costs, and improve an organization’s bottom line. 

You’re likely understaffed without it, which detracts from the customer’s experience, reduces productivity, and unnecessarily costs your company money. It’s also possible that you’re overstaffed and spending too much on labor costs, which cuts into your company’s profits.

Either way, the last thing you want is to maintain the status quo. The flurry of text messages and last-minute phone calls telling you that someone will be late and manually making changes to the ever-evolving employee schedule is exhausting. Not to mention that constant revolving door that is time off requests and finding shift coverage.

As stated above, there’s a better way. Let’s dig a little deeper.

5 employee scheduling tips to help you save time and money 

If you asked most people what employee scheduling is, you might be met with a response like: “it coordinates which employees are going to be working when.” They would not be wrong – this is absolutely the fundamental purpose of employee scheduling.  

Things are continually changing, and we have some phenomenal software full of automation at our disposal. It’s not just about who will be where and when, it’s about finding the perfect balance of coverage that maximizes the customer experience and your daily profitability. It’s taking the monotonous data entry and whirlwind of schedule requests and packaging them neatly into a framework that gives everyone bandwidth back.

team scheduling

If that sounds like something your business could use a little more of, let’s explore what it all looks like in action.

1. Work payroll into your scheduling

Shift scheduling apps enable you to work payroll into your scheduling, reducing the amount of time your finance team has to spend on admin.

These collaborative platforms allow managers to schedule employee shifts alongside their rate of pay. The employee then clocks in and out using the app from wherever their shift is taking place, and the platform calculates how much they’re owed. 

Beyond the simple calculations of hours worked multiplied by wage, you also get a streamlined view of overtime, along with the exact overtime hours worked and a view of the added pay earned. If someone worked a holiday or took a half-day, you get those insights, too. 

It’s then very simple to run payroll directly from the platform. No need to manually transfer data from one system to another. The employee scheduling software can often do that for you or make the transfer process incredibly simple.

Benefits of integrating payroll and scheduling

By turning these two significant tasks into one, and automating a large part of the work, the burden is taken off your finance team. Of course, they’ll want to verify that all the data has been entered correctly, but on the whole, they’re going to be gaining a lot of time back.

Ditching the manual entry or need to transfer large amounts of data will also prevent costly errors that add up quickly. Saving your finance team time means that they can turn their attention to less repetitive tasks that actually need human input, saving the business money.

Furthermore, centralizing scheduling and payroll will help reduce the number of errors made during these tasks. With employee scheduling software, you get real-time views of the time clock and the timesheet, along with alerts to unusual activity. For example, if someone is late for a shift or missed a time punch coming back from lunch, then the system will automatically flag it and notify whoever you designate.

With real-time insights like that, you can catch time clock mistakes in the moment and prevent costly errors from adding up. You also save your management team and finance team from having to figure out what really happened weeks ago.

In addition, integrating payroll and scheduling makes it easier to forecast your labor costs days, weeks, or even months in advance. You can decide if scheduling your highest-earning team members on certain days makes sense, given the average revenue for that day. You can also catch overtime before it happens and make the necessary adjustments on the fly to avoid it.

2. Make the most of automation 

Many experts say we’re living through the fourth industrial revolution right now, which fuses together advanced technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), genetic engineering, quantum computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Artificial intelligence and automation are a collective force that can disrupt the basic operations of many industries, including employee scheduling. Many businesses are adopting machine learning due to the benefits it offers, from lower labor costs to enhanced productivity and even next-level reporting.

Naturally, some people are worried about losing their jobs. If deployed correctly, automation won’t replace your human teams, but instead will amplify their productivity infinitely. 

Many employee scheduling apps offer automation, so make the most of this opportunity. For instance, if 90% of your employee schedule remains the same every week, it’s a thankless task for a manager to have to create this schedule from scratch every week. Automation will recreate the schedule, allowing the manager to then go in and adjust the 10% that has changed. 

Benefits of automation

The big win when it comes to automation is all the time that your workforce will save. Automation takes care of the simple things and allows humans to focus on tasks that need human input.

Some additional benefits of automation include:

  • Lower operating costs since you need fewer people working fewer hours to create schedules and handle the daily onslaught of schedule changes.
  • Increased production output because automation affects both managers and employees by facilitating the shift request procedure, updating the schedule, and the ability to schedule weeks or months in advance.
  • Better planning since automation will often catch mistakes and make suggestions that a human may overlook.
  • Reduces onboarding time because there’s less administrative work for new employees to master.

Essentially, you can expect the productivity of your managers to skyrocket, and your team will feel supported like never before as a result.  

meeting productivity

3. Build in remote communication

These days, working remotely is pretty common. So is working with a flexible schedule or rotating between multiple office locations. We’re more flexible than ever, and as a result, society has created a need for mobile-friendly employee scheduling solutions that keep everyone connected no matter where they are.

Video calling software, cloud-enabled documents, and the need for instantaneous messaging are the new norm, and thankfully employee scheduling software is adapting. As an example, many modern employee scheduling solutions include GPS time tracking built in. 

No matter where somebody logs in, the system will automatically know and record the GPS coordinates. This comes in handy when you’ve got multiple locations, and you need a full staff at all of them to maintain a high level of customer service. With the GPS time clock, you can block attempts from people logging in at the wrong location or get notified of the possible mistake so you can investigate. 

Benefits of in-app communication

In the past, you may have used email or instant messaging for employees to communicate things such as sickness, emergencies, or vacation leave. In this scenario, you would have had to manually change the shift, find someone to replace it, and – in some cases – communicate the change of plans with the HR and finance team.

However, an employee scheduling app with a communication function allows workers to clearly swap shifts without confusion and communicate with managers in the app. Their rate of pay would then be automatically changed, and managers could look at the real-time schedule to see who is free to cover their shift, taking much of the admin out of the process.

Many modern solutions provide multiple avenues for communication, including text, messaging, email, and push notifications. That means if someone on your team puts in a shift cover request, they can decide to send out that request to the team in one of three ways to ensure maximum effectiveness. 

You can even set it up so that only people eligible to cover the shift based on role, location, or availability will get the notification. Relevant in-app notifications is an unobtrusive way to get shifts covered that saves the manager or the employee from calling down a long list of employees.

In-schedule communication also negates the risk of the manager simply forgetting that they need to cover the shift. It’s all in the app, and if they choose to, they can put the onus of covering the shift on the employee, which boosts internal accountability and ownership.

4. Schedule in real time

Perhaps the most useful aspect of employee scheduling software is its real-time functionality. You can always forecast what the schedule should look like weeks or even months ahead, but it’s likely not going to stay that way.

Wondering how to schedule employees in real time?  If a worker is suddenly unavailable for a shift, this will show up on the centralized schedule that managers and colleagues have access to. When the manager then covers that shift, the change will show up, too. No more backdating or fumbling with spreadsheets. It’s all done automatically in the app with just a few clicks.

With all the scheduling tools and technologies now at our disposal, there’s no reason to not be scheduling in real time. Yet, some organizations aren’t fully aware of the benefits of real-time scheduling.

Benefits of real-time scheduling

Real-time scheduling helps managers to avoid those tricky scheduling conflicts that are bound to occur when the schedule exists in different places. If you’re using paper schedules posted on a bulletin board, then your team is limited to taking a photo of it or jotting it down.

When things change, you have to find a way to communicate the updated schedule, which is bound to be cumbersome if you have more than a few employees. If you’re using spreadsheets, you have the luxury of copying and pasting, but you still have to share the updated schedule, and you always run the risk of someone holding onto an outdated version. 

Those small but important details can sometimes cost you a customer if someone doesn’t show up at the right place and the right time.

real-time scheduling

Real-time scheduling is also useful for budgeting – you can see exactly how much money is being spent on shifts that week, and this figure will adjust as people make changes in the schedule.

Such details are especially important for states where overtime constitutes any hours worked in a day over eight hours. Those overtime hours add up fast, and real-time insights can easily prevent them.

5. Use an employee scheduling app

Not all employees sit in front of their computer 24/7, and your scheduling software needs to fit around the mobile-first lifestyle of your workers to be truly effective.

That’s why it's ideal to seek out a scheduling software that is available in-app form. Mobile-friendly web-based apps work, but they’re rarely as fast or easy-to-use as their mobile app counterparts.

Ideally, the employee scheduling software of choice has an app on the Google Play Store for Android devices, and one on the Apple App Store for iOS devices. The greater the mobile app coverage, the more likely your team is to use it. It’s also important to make sure the company regularly updates its app based on user feedback and keeps security a top priority.

Benefits of scheduling apps 

Wherever your employees go, they’re going to be taking their schedule with them in their pocket. This makes it much easier to make updating and checking the schedule a regular feature of their life, and this admin task won’t feel like so much of a chore.

Plus, they now have all the features they need to communicate with you and the team at a moment’s notice:

  • Need to request off and find someone to cover your shift? The app should allow you to do that with little effort. 
  • How about scheduling some time off for vacation? Of course, that’s a basic functionality any employee scheduling app should be able to handle. 
  • What about reminding you of an upcoming shift? Right again! The app should have multiple options for notifications, so your team’s always informed. 

Mobile apps make it easy on managers and employees since they can do just about everything the web app can do. You can expect a reduction in no-shows, more bandwidth, and a happier staff.

Make the most of the scheduling tech out there

Modern employee scheduling is so much more than "just" scheduling. It’s the catalyst for widespread change in your business that stems from automating the repetitive work, streamlining your processes, and giving your employees and managers the tools they need to be successful.

By embracing the innovative scheduling technology available, you can save your workforce a huge amount of time when it comes to admin work – and facilitate significant savings for your business.

You’ll also reduce the margin of error of scheduling, which affects repeat customers, employee happiness, and finances. When it comes to choosing employee scheduling tips, the number one favor you can do for your team is investing in employee scheduling software that’s easy to use, enhances your productivity, and facilitates communication.

covid-19@2x
Workforce management is part of employee scheduling

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covid-19@2x
Workforce management is part of employee scheduling

Manage employee scheduling and so much more with workforce management software.

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