Best Practices for Scheduling Hourly Employees

Your schedule forms the backbone of your daily business operations. Since payroll is one of the biggest items in your budget, the way you staff your shifts makes a huge impact on your bottom line.

You also need to have protocols for when and how the schedule is displayed, how employees make time off requests, and how they swap shifts. It’s vital to respect the time your employees give you and your business. When they feel respected, they will be motivated, happy, and productive. Keep in mind that, according to a report from Circadian, employee absenteeism accounts for up to $3,600/year, per non-salaried employee. Your scheduling practices can help allay that loss. `

Keep reading to discover seven best practices for scheduling your hourly employees.


  1. Post schedules two weeks in advance

Your employees will appreciate having access to their schedule well in advance. They can integrate it with their personal appointments and other outside obligations. When the schedule is posted in a timely manner, employees can make arrangements to trade shifts, if something comes up. When you stick to this schedule, your employees will respond to your consistency. Working in advance like this also allows for a grace period in which employees can make their last-minute requests or shift trades.


  1. Set a deadline for time-off and shift change requests

It’s important to allow flexibility for your hourly employees. When employees have agency over their schedules, they are happier, better workers. If they need a specific day free, try to accommodate their requests. However, it’s important to maintain your own sanity by setting a firm deadline for all such requests. Post deadlines for all schedule requests well before you sit down to create the final draft of your schedule.


  1. Maintain a list of employee shift preferences

Keep this list handy when you create each schedule. Give employees the opportunity to amend their preferences as time goes on, but make sure they submit any new preferences in a timely fashion. If your staff includes college students, for instance, you might make an announcement around the time terms end so they can provide their new availability.


  1. List responsibilities on the schedule

This is particularly important for businesses that ask employees to perform different duties according to their particular shift. For instance, a waiter who opens in the morning may need to prepare drink stations and brew several canisters of tea. When you note these duties on the schedule, your expectations will be clear.


  1. Have a clear protocol for shift trading

Shift trading can get tricky at times, one employee might assume her co-worker has consented to fill for her Friday shift, when that was not his intent. For this reason, make sure that both parties in the trade give clear consent and create clear rules for who is accountable for the shift. You may also want to oversee these trades so that your best people are on staff. For instance, you might not want a brand-new employee working a long shift on the busiest day of the week.


  1. Create standards for on-call procedures

Sometimes, you need to call up an employee to fill in at the last minute. You can create standards for these workers so that they will truly be ready. One possible solution is to create a phone tree for employees to utilize should the need arise. You can also make sure that you clearly mark your schedule to indicate who is on-call for what shifts.


  1. Create a schedule template

This is invaluable for managers everywhere. Your templates will help you create strategies for your busiest weeks, and free up your energy to make the best schedule possible. To make effective templates, you can implement your yearly sales figures as well as any managerial notes from previous years.


Introducing the nettime solutions Advanced Scheduling Module

nettime solutions’ scheduling software puts you in full control of your weekly and monthly staffing needs. You can customize schedule templates, analyze your staffing strategies, and easily maximize your payroll expenditures.

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