Everyone deserves to love what they do.

However, more than 50% of the American workforce is unhappy.

Of course, all sorts of issues can cause somebody to dislike their work, from tough targets and overbearing bosses to mundane tasks and limited growth potential.

It’s hard to narrow the problem down to one specific issue. Nonetheless, it’s a shocking statistic that employers should be looking to rectify.

In the bid to improve the working environment, sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference. Learning how to schedule employees properly is a prime example.

Effective scheduling means having sufficient manpower for each and every shift. When it’s done incorrectly, employees and employers alike start to suffer.

Are you in charge of scheduling and want to learn how to do a better job?

Read on to learn 7 tips for scheduling employees more effectively.

1. Publish It Ahead of Time

Keep employees happy by publishing and sharing the schedule well in advance.

Having forewarning about shifts is a simple courtesy that makes a world of difference. Put yourself in the shoes of your staff. Imagine discovering your week’s shifts on Sunday right before it begins.

Making plans with friends, sorting childcare, and organizing life outside work becomes far harder. Everything gets put on hold until you know your shift pattern.

By contrast, having the schedule ahead of time provides a level of certainty. You know your shifts and can make plans around them.

Aim to have your schedule sorted at least 2 weeks in advance.

2. Remember Peak Times

Publishing a schedule in advance demands accurate forecasting.

It isn’t easy, but managers must remember to look ahead to busier and quieter times of the year. Peak periods require higher levels of staff; quieter times need far less.

Overstaffing and understaffing both have deleterious effects on business and employee morale. Nobody wants to be rushed off their feet or stood around with nothing to do.

It’s about striking the right balance.

Finding it may require trial and error. However, a fundamental component is to forecast effectively and schedule accordingly.

3. Make the Schedule Accessible

There’s no point in creating a schedule if nobody sees it.

As a manager, be sure to make it easily accessible to the entire workforce. Once you’ve assembled it, share it via email and/or your internal intranet system.

Publish the schedule both online and in physical form. That gives everybody the chance to view it and find their shifts.

These days, there are numerous mobile apps and software programs that cater to this need. Employees can sign into their smartphone or computer from anywhere to see when they’re working.

4. Leave Room for Flexibility  

There’s no such thing as a fixed schedule.

You can guarantee that at some point, someone will need to swap shifts!

Expect it to happen and take a flexible approach to your schedule. The specific people working matters less than having enough of them on shift.

Similarly, don’t expect the same schedule to work all the time.  

We’ve already mentioned the need to adjust for busier and quieter periods. But schedule adjustments can occur at any time depending on your employee’s needs.

Being overly rigid doesn’t help anybody. See it as a work in progress instead, with constant room for improvement. Be sure to stop, assess and adjust the schedule according to feedback and results.

5. Encourage Communication

Schedules work best when everybody’s in the know.

Encourage communication at every step when scheduling employees. Actively engage your staff in the creation stage by asking them their preferred shifts and when they can and can’t work.

This inevitably reduces the need for changes down the line. Know that making presumptions is a recipe for future alterations!

Continue the theme of communication after the schedule’s complete. Consider holding a team meeting to discuss it and see if everyone’s happy. Set up a Facebook or Slack group to facilitate communications between employees.

Ask people to inform you if they swap shifts, so you can keep tabs on proceedings. Creating a culture of openness will facilitate the smooth running of your schedule from start to finish.

6. Beware of Schedule Abuse

Schedule abuse is a common bugbear for workforces everywhere.

Essentially, it’s when somebody (it can be an employee or an employer) pursues personal gain over the wellbeing of the team.

It comes in many forms. Employees may miraculously fall ill around weekends and busy periods. They might arrive late and leave early or manipulate the clocking-in-system in their favor, and so on.

Whatever the exact scenario, schedule abuse puts extra strain on team members forced to pick up the slack.

Employers aren’t always fault-free either though. Their schedule abuse can come as last-minute alterations and cancellations.

Be wary of infractions and act quickly to correct the situation.

7. Don’t Mistreat On-Call Staff

On-call staff function as back-ups for busy days and last-minute schedule changes.

Employers love them! After all, they’re waiting in the wings to take on shifts wherever needed. If the schedules working, then they stay on the side-lines.

On-call staff can often get a raw deal. They aren’t guaranteed work, but may desperately need it to provide an income. They’re constantly on high-alert, waiting for shifts, stressed about missing potential money, and unable to make alternative plans.

Employers should only hire on-call staff who understand and agree to the setup.

Final Thoughts on How to Schedule Employees Effectively

There you have it: 7 tips explaining how to schedule employees more effectively.

When shift work is part of the job, proper scheduling can make a difference in morale. Employee satisfaction is sure to get a boost when shifts are scheduled well.

It’s a task that many managers struggle with, but hopefully, this piece has highlighted some key strategies to do it better.

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