Time tracking

How to Schedule Shift Work for Small Businesses

From construction and transportation to healthcare and hospitality, more and more companies have employees that work outside of what is considered “regular” hours. The nature of shift work means employee working hours generally “rotate” around the clock, and managing shift workers can be complicated and stressful for managers.

As a business owner or manager, ensuring that employees aren’t overworked or under-resourced can be difficult as the shift planner. But automated scheduling and shift planning techniques can help simplify this process. Find out how below.

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How Does Shift Scheduling Work?

Shift work includes day and night shifts as well as rotating shifts. Shift scheduling typically involves dividing a full day into shifts – set periods allocated to different workers to fulfil the same, or similar, roles – and allocating these shifts to employees in a manageable and achievable way for the workers and job requirements.

There are different kinds of work rosters that can dictate how employees are scheduled across a day or week. Shift rosters will typically display a five-day workweek with eight-hour shifts each day. As the primary employee schedule maker of your business, you will need to familiarize yourself with these various scheduling types that fall within the roster.

Types of shift work schedules

Business owners and managing shift planners will have to determine how best to schedule their employees across this roster. There are different types of shift work schedules owners, and managers can use to cover all business hours and tasks. Various industries will use different scheduling methods that work best for their needs.

These shift work schedules include:

  • Fixed: Crews always work the same hours each day and week. These schedules allow for a regular routine for both managers and employees.
  • Split: This schedule divides an employee’s workday into two or more parts, separated by at least two hours. Businesses will choose split schedules to control labour costs and improve employees’ productivity while providing the team with a better work/life balance.
  • Overtime: Any shift worked in excess of the employee’s ordinary shift schedule. Specific overtime regulations apply depending on the province your business works in.
  • Rotating: Shifts change according to a set schedule. Rotating shifts will often alternate weekly or biweekly so that workers alternate between day and night shifts.
  • On-Call: Employees are expected to be available at any time during their shifts to carry out work duties should they be called into work. Depending on the industry, on-call scheduling can happen regularly or only during emergency cover.
  • No Schedule: Shift work is allocated with no pattern or regularity to meet demand. Shift workers may be required to cover for employees who call in sick or during rush periods such as Christmas, for example.

Automatic vs. Manual Scheduling

Scheduling shift work manually can be time-consuming and complex. Things like bereavement leave, illness and other unexpected absences often require last-minute changes to shift schedules which can be tricky to keep on top of if you’re organizing shifts manually, especially if you’re doing it by hand. Using a spreadsheet can go some way to making the task easier, but there’s still plenty of room for error and you may find yourself unexpectedly short-staffed or unprepared for a rush period.

Many businesses have turned to automated scheduling to help them with this process. Using employee job scheduling software makes the task so much easier. With automated scheduling, employees can focus on doing their best work instead of worrying about their schedules, while managers can keep track of who is working when.

Scheduling software is the perfect scheduling solution as it lets you streamline this planning process to create schedules with drag and drop employee schedules, provides use of an employee time clock system and sends notifications of updates when shift swapping quickly and easily. There are just a few of the scheduling tools and comprehensive features at your fingertips when using quality time tracking apps for businesses.

Shift Planning Techniques

Aside from automated shift scheduling, there are plenty of shift planning tips and tricks you can use to make shift scheduling for small businesses easier. As the employee schedule maker, you should consider using these shift planning techniques below:

Analyze current activity to forecast future staff needs

Look to previous years’ or seasons’ schedules to help determine how best to schedule for the current time. Suppose you noticed an increase in shifts and work hours to cover a particularly busy or hectic time. In that case, you can prepare for the chaos by scheduling more employees. In contrast, if you notice certain months are slower than others, choose to cut back on hours to save on payroll.

Schedule shifts ahead of time to give staff plenty of notice

It’s always the best practice as the shift planner to provide employees with their schedules ahead of when they are booked to work. Typically, businesses will create and send out schedules two weeks before the scheduled start date. This allows employees to review their timetable and let managers know if there are any issues with their shifts. Given enough time, mistakes or problems can be fixed without stress.

With employee scheduling software, its easy to make multiple schedules ahead of time thanks to easy to use auto-scheduling per employee. You will have plenty of time to check for open shifts, swap shifts, and ensure all dates are correct per employee.

Consider stopping on-call scheduling

Unless an emergency, many on-call scheduling instances can actually cause more harm than good to employees. On-call schedules are known to increase workforce stress due to unpredictable hours, resulting in health-related issues. In recent years many of the top brands around the world have stopped on-call scheduling for this reason.

Monitor overtime

Always monitor your employees’ regular hours and overtime hours. Familiarize yourself with your province’s overtime laws and regulations to ensure that all Canadian labour laws are being followed accordingly.

Be fair with your employees

We are all human, and as such, we should be treated fairly and respectfully. Schedule your workforce shifts fairly and listen to team members if they have issues. Keeping a good rapport between management and staff is always beneficial to both business and people.

Regularly review your scheduling process

There are always ways you can improve your scheduling as the primary shift planner in the business. Choose regular intervals or pay periods to go over the business’s previous schedules to determine where you can improve shift allocations, work hours, and task management.

Use quality shift scheduling software like QuickBooks Time

Finding and using the best employee scheduling software is easy when you opt to integrate QuickBooks Time into your shift planning process. Streamline your business’s scheduling process thanks to the instant and repeat schedule features, employee time clock system, real-time notifications, and on-the-go-scheduling with smartphone apps available for Android and iOS operating systems.

Join the thousands of businesses that have greatly benefited from the implementation of QuickBooks Time in their scheduling and payroll processes! Try it free today.

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