Practical Solutions to Common Employee Shifting Work Schedule Problems

Does your business suffer from high turnover rates? Do you feel your employees leave for no reason? Are your employees always frustrated and lack productivity? How do you ensure that you’ve employees around when you need then? Workplace scheduling problems can seem common, whether you’re running a restaurant or a massage clinic.

Labor problems can be quite problematic in the service and travel industry. You work unimaginable hours, maybe even when others are sleeping, and don’t even get enough quality time with your family. You plan for some event and then at the last moment, get called by a manager to cover a shift.

These issues may not sound familiar to you, but they certainly do to your employees! Chances are, you have also faced similar situations if you run your own business.

One of the main reasons for these problems is your ineffective employee shifting work schedule. That’s right! Your schedule might be the thing causing distress in your employees as it’s not working for them. But don’t lose hope…

Even though every business faces problems with employee scheduling, it doesn’t mean you can’t solve them. Today, we will take up the biggest challenges of employee scheduling faced by managers and provide solutions for each.

 By the end of this guide, you will be able to create effective shifting work schedules that work for everyone- you, your manager and your employees!

So let’s start with one of the most common complaints of employees irrespective of their industry.

1. Employees Not Happy about their Shifts

Sometimes, your employees may not like the shift you assign them. We know you may need certain employees for certain jobs (like opening a massage clinic) and assign a particular shift or days for a purpose. But your employees are not always aware of the reason and you can also give the wrong message.

For example, your employees may think you favor John because he is related to your family. Or, Jenny may be unhappy because she thinks you are unfair in distributing shifts. As an owner or manager, you need to be objective and send out the right message to your employees.

If your employees are not happy with your shifting work schedule, talk to them to make things clear. If you have chosen an employee for some particular reason (maybe experience), then other employees need to know that criterion.

Another solution to this is using a scheduling software. If you use a software to assign shifts, your employees will know that the process is automated, fair and transparent. You can also choose a solution with auto-shift bidding feature so that employees get to choose their preferred shifts. They will also know that no one is being unfair and the shifts are assigned to the best among them, creating a healthy competition.

2. Last-Minute Changes are Affecting Operations

Employees don’t like last-minute changes even though its common. Yet, it’s never a good idea to leave things for the last moment as it causes inconvenience to both the employee and the employer. So you should make it a habit to draft your shifting work schedule in advance, and not 15 minutes before the shift begins!

By giving adequate time, you can make sure your employees and managers get used to the schedule and are available for the shifts. Preparing schedules in advance may need a bit of work, but can save those last-minute embarrassments and extra work. You can also develop a schedule that suits your employees and establishment and only make occasional changes, as required.

Predictability makes everyone happy. Your employees have an idea of what to expect and can plan their routine effectively. Knowing their shifts in advance offers them the flexibility to balance personal obligations and work and avoid not showing up at the last instance.

Managing a shifting work schedule takes organizational skills and communication. Thankfully, we have modern workplace scheduling solutions that make both of them easy. You can plan and create your schedules in a more organized way, factoring in work requirements and employee preferences at the same time.  

As a result, you don’t need to make last-minute changes as everything has been considered duly.

3. Employees Not Clear about Their Schedules

Employees can be confused about their shifts for a number of reasons including-

  • Last-minute changes and unpredictability
  • Non-consistent scheduling and arbitrary changes
  • Swapping shifts without any basis or record
  • No organized way to track shifts or changes
  • Conflicts in scheduling

Whatever be the reason, your aim should be to make things crystal clear to your employees. And how do you do that?

By preparing your shifting work schedule in advance and ensuring there are no conflicts. Also, you need to make the process consistent and hold your employees accountable for their shift schedules.

Using a scheduling software can contribute significantly towards removing confusions of your employees. You can take advantage of a consistent scheduling process and cut down on changes, including last-minute changes. If your employees want to swap shifts, they can use the software to do so effectively without compromising shift requirements, experience, or skills.

Your staff will also be able to access their schedules round the clock from any location to track their shifts or any changes. Being totally informed and in control, your employees will no longer be confused about their shifts.

4. On-Call Workforce: Bane or Boon?

Customer demand is not consistent. Some have a large footfall during lunch hours, while others may get most of their guests post-evening. For such situations, the industry had traditionally depended on on-call staff.

What are on-call staff?

You can think of on-call staff as players on the reserve bench, to be called when required. On-call staff generally call the business before their shift begins to find out if they are needed. If the company is going through lean hours, the manager may ask the employee not to come.

Naturally, this causes a lot of problems for your employees. They can’t plan their lives properly and have to wait until the eleventh hour to find out if they need to turn up.

As a result, most companies have stopped using this approach. Instead, they have started tracking their sales in order to determine customer demand. Knowing when most of your customers arrive lets you plan and create accurate shifting work schedules that don’t need to depend on on-call staff.

5. Overtime Keeping You Awake at Nights

Managing overtime is often a challenging task for businesses that generally don’t have fixed working hours. Various factors can lead your staff to work overtime- shortage of employees, unexpected rush of customers, employees looking for extra income, and so on.

If your employees working overtime are productive and giving a good customer service, you need not worry. But if overtime is making you cross your departmental budget, then it’s a matter you need to look into.

That being said, accurate scheduling can decrease the need for working overtime by assigning adequate employees for each shift. You can also use sales data to determine the number of employees you need for particular shifts and avoid paying for overtime.

Ultimately, using a shifting work schedule solution lets you track ad manage your overtime hours and cost optimally.

Every business wants to avoid overtime as it can increase labor cost and become an issue in the long run. So if you need your employees to work over 40 hours each week, then it’s better to pay salaries than offer hourly rates.

6. Shift Swapping has become a Nightmare

Many businesses allow their employees to swap shifts between themselves. But most of the times, a paper-based approach to shift swapping makes the whole process complex and unreliable.

Let’s say one of your experienced waiters swapped his shift with a junior waiter. Naturally, you can’t expect the same level of service out of the junior employee. As a result, the whole customer experience might be impacted.

At other times, there is miscommunication causing the assigned employee to miss his duty.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop allowing shift swaps. It’s a great way to empower employees and get rid of some of the responsibilities of finding someone else for the job.

What you need is a reliable platform which lets you track and manage the whole shift swapping. With a shift scheduling software, you can provide your employees with an easy-to-use interface to do their shift swapping. They will not need to make extra calls or ask others if they are available. Everything is done through the solution in a seamless manner.

There’s also no fear of having the wrong candidate for the job as employees will be allowed to swap shifts with colleagues of the same level. Your or your manager’s only job is to authorize the shift swap.

After that, the selected employee will get notification about his shift and reminders too, if you want.

7. Shifting Work Schedule Process is Disorganized

Let’s face it- you cannot rely anymore on the paper-and-pen scheduling process. Most of those templates don’t allow any flexibility and cannot be customized to meet your needs. On top of that, you need to make so many calls, keep track of worked hours, time-offs- the list seems endless!

Even after all this hard work, the printout you paste on the wall may or may not work for you or your employees.

The solution is to find the right employee scheduling software that empowers you to develop your schedule in an organized way. You can account for all factors, employee preferences, off-days, labor laws and anything that go towards making a schedule that works for everyone.

A good scheduling solution will also let you send digital schedules and shift updates to employees. You can even cut down on last-minute absences by finding replacements quickly in a hassle-free way.

An employee scheduling solution will streamline your scheduling process and give you solid data for creating the most effective schedules.

Final Thoughts: One Solution for All Employee Scheduling Problems

Most of the problems we discussed can be solved with a centralized and streamlined approach to employee scheduling. The easiest way to organize your scheduling and make it work for everybody is to use a reliable cloud-based employee scheduling solution. You will be able to turn your establishment into a happy place for your employees where they love to come to work!