Business Operations
9 min.

10 Employee Scheduling Tips to Simplify Your Shift Schedules

Sarah Busque
Last updated on 22 Dec. 2023
Published on 13 Sep. 2022
Lightbulb with check mark and work schedule

Employee scheduling is essential when it comes to running a business, no matter the industry. But it shouldn’t be exhausting or frustrating.

Table of contents

We gathered 10 tried-and-true employee scheduling tips that savvy managers can use to create an effective schedule with minimal effort. See how to create the best employee schedule–the easy way–with Agendrix employee scheduling software.

1. Make communication easy between employers and staff

As with all areas of business–your employee scheduling process should allow for two-way communication with employees. This can be done in person, by phone, text, Facebook Messenger, internal company chat platform, etc.

Or you can simplify things by incorporating two-way communication in the same tool you use to create schedules and track work hours.

Agendrix employee scheduling software includes a professional chat tool that lets you contact employees quickly and easily to improve team communication and collaboration.

  • Chat with one or more selected individuals or with the entire group
  • Share documents
  • See who read your messages
  • Receive notifications when a  team member writes you a message
  • Decide if team members can chat with one another or with their managers only
  • No need to add your staff as friends on Facebook or Instagram to effectively communicate with them on the day-to-day

2. Centralize all of your employee availability information

One of the key requirements for creating accurate employee schedules with minimal time and effort is knowing when team members are available to work–and when they aren’t. This minimizes the amount of schedule changes you’ll have to deal with.

An employee availability form will help you do just that, but that’s where its usefulness ends. An even more efficient way to work is to centralize all employee availability information in the same software that you use to create work schedules.

Stay on top of your employees’ availability, preferences, leave and replacements with Agendrix scheduling software.

Employee management simplified.

Online work schedules. Time clock. Communication.

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3. Gather and document time off requests ahead of time

Managing staff requests for time off is yet another key component in creating accurate employee work schedules.

Staff will inevitably want to take time off for vacations and special occasions such as a wedding or a school graduation. They will also need to take time off on occasion for things like doctor’s appointments or to attend to other important personal matters.

Some requests will be last-minute, but often employees know the dates well in advance.

Gathering and documenting these requests ahead of time will make it much easier to accommodate these requests and boost employee retention. You’ll also be less likely to be stuck managing last-minute schedule changes.

One of the benefits of an employee scheduling software is that it centralizes all this information in one handy spot. Plus, being able to view all time-off requests right in your scheduling tool reduces risks of forgetting them: you won’t schedule employees on days off that have already been approved.

4. Simplify on-call scheduling with color coding

To ensure you can fill shifts when employees request time off, it can be helpful to have a bank of team members who are available and willing to work on-call in the event of sudden schedule changes.

Having on-call employees is especially helpful for unplanned employee absences. You can simply turn to this list as needed to schedule employees at the last minute.

Keep in mind that on-call scheduling won’t work for all workers. Many team members prefer having predictable work hours. Some staff members, however, may appreciate having a flexible schedule–or the option to pick up extra shifts. Using a scheduling app allows you to create pre-approved open shifts that your employees can apply on as they please.

5. Take into account labor costs while scheduling

Taking labor costs into account when scheduling is key. Spreadsheets can be used to schedule employee shifts and to track labor costs. Managers can manually add the hourly rates of each staff member in a table and then multiply the total of scheduled hours by the salaries to get an idea of labor costs.

But doing this in Excel comes with many disadvantages that can lead to miscommunication, missed shifts and unnecessary costs.

With an employee scheduling software like Agendrix, labor costs are automatically calculated directly in the schedule. Furthermore, you can even add your labor costs goals to make sure you’re not going over budget.

Create schedules that take into account labor costs, manage changes, keep track of time, and allow your employees to clock in from any location with Agendrix’s all-in-one scheduling solution.

6. Allow/Ease shift swaps between employees

Not all businesses are able to allow shift swaps, but for those that can, it will be  greatly appreciated by staff.

Why allow employees to swap shifts?

  • You’re  showing your team that you care about their needs and are trying to ensure they have a good work-life balance
  • Giving more flexibility, for instance to attend medical appointments or to deal with emergencies with kids, will reduce stress for employees and increase job satisfaction
  • It will improve worker loyalty and help to lower turnover

In some instances, you may want manager approval on all shift swap requests. In others, you might be comfortable letting team members handle shift swaps on their own.

Either way, good staff scheduling software will make managing and keeping track of shift swapping easier–especially if you have to manage shift swaps for multiple locations.

Here’s how Agendrix staff scheduling software makes managing shift swap requests easy:

  • Team members can request and accept shift swaps either on a web-based or mobile app
  • You can decide whether you want to approve swap shift requests before they are accepted, or if the software can automatically approve them
  • Once a swap is approved, everyone will instantly see the updated schedule in the app

7. Manage schedules for staff working at multiple job sites

Managing staff working at a single location is one thing. Managing staff working at multiple job sites is quite another. This is common practice in seniors residences, construction sites, and so on.

Using scheduling software helps avoid double booking staff members that work in multiple locations thanks to a global schedule. This is a game-changer especially when your employees work in two or more locations with different managers that each deal with their own schedules. Agendrix simply lets them know if the employee already has a scheduled shift at another job site. This makes it a lot easier for managers to know which employees are free without having to manually add availability for these workers.

The app also tells your employees which job site to go to and at what time. When they clock in or out, the app shows you whether they’re actually present within a predetermined distance of the worksite.

8. Plan according to busy hours

All businesses strive to optimize labor costs. That means scheduling the right number of employees to work each shift.

Schedule too few employees and work won’t get done, leading to poor customer service. Schedule too many employees and labor costs rise unnecessarily. Either way, employee satisfaction is sure to suffer as well.

Knowing how many staff are on the floor at every moment of the day is important. It helps you ensure that enough people are scheduled during busy times and that you’re not overstaffed when it’s quiet. Tracking your busy hours will help you better:

  • Determine how many employees you will need for each shift based on the time of day, day of the week, time of year, special events, etc.
  • Forecast labor costs to help set sales goals

Agendrix offers a view that lets managers know how many employees are scheduled by the hour and estimated labor costs.

9. Maximize staffing needs with effective scheduling

Making the most of skilled workers is always a winning strategy for businesses, as these employees are typically the most productive and effective. They also serve as an invaluable source of information and support for newer or less skilled workers.

When it comes time to assign shifts, consider your staffing needs from a business perspective, not simply a logistical perspective. Maximize work time for skilled workers and then fill in other shift slots with less skilled team members.

Effective staff scheduling software will also show you your total labor costs as you assign workers to each shift.

10. Collect feedback from staff

Many businesses embrace a continuous improvement approach to most areas of operations. Your employee scheduling process is no exception.

Benefits of collecting constructive and honest employee feedback:

  • It opens the door to fresh insights and new ideas
  • It lets you see how well things are working from your employees’ perspective
  • Since employees are often on the frontlines, it allows you to identify potential problems before they occur
  • Asking employees for feedback shows that you care, which can improve employee performance and reduce turnover

There are a myriad of ways to collect employee feedback one-on-one discussions, town halls and employee surveys. The goal is to ensure you get feedback that’s honest and constructive. Using an anonymous survey to collect employee feedback can be an easy and effective way to do this.

Get more employee scheduling tips.

How to schedule employees effectively with Agendrix

Start using Agendrix to make the entire scheduling process easier.

  • Set up your account in just minutes
  • Request and view employee availability
  • Collect and manage time off requests
  • Create accurate and optimal work schedules
  • View labor costs as you assign shifts
  • Be notified of any scheduling conflicts
  • Notify employees of newly created schedules with just a click
  • Let employees request and accept shift swaps
  • Have modified schedules updated and sent to employees automatically
  • See which employees have viewed the schedule
  • See if you have the right employees and skill sets scheduled for each shift
  • Easily schedule on-call employees in the event of a no-show

Agendrix takes scheduling employees all the way to payroll-with virtually no effort on your part:

  • Have employees clock in and out using the app or their mobile phone
  • Have timesheets automatically filled out
  • Be immediately notified of any employee lateness and absences
  • Have all the necessary information ready for payroll
Your questions answered.

How do I make scheduling employees easier?

Employee scheduling is one of the many repetitive, time-consuming tasks that can be simplified and improved through automation. Staff scheduling software centralizes all employee management information, thereby reducing the amount of time it takes to create accurate schedules. Some all-in-one software goes beyond simply schedule creation to include employee communication software, time clocks, timesheets and more.

What are the benefits of effective employee scheduling?

Effective employee scheduling benefits employees, managers and the business itself.

For employees:

  • Schedules are accurate, fair and take their needs and preferences into consideration
  • Schedules are communicated clearly and in advance
  • Schedules accommodate shift swaps requests for time off
  • Schedules help them understand from a bigger picture perspective the why and how shifts are assigned

This reduces stress for employees, leading to greater job satisfaction and loyalty, and therefore, productivity.

For managers:

  • Accurate and schedules can be created and communicated to employees, as well as modified and updated, with minimal time and effort
  • Optimizing the assignment of shifts results in better team cohesion and productivity, thereby improving customer service
  • Demonstrates ability to support the company’s objectives
  • Strengthening job satisfaction reduces interventions with disgruntled employees
  • Automating scheduling tasks frees time to work on more important projects like spending time with customers and staff

This reduces stress for the manager, leading to greater job satisfaction and loyalty, and therefore, productivity.

For your business:

  • Accurate schedules means that all shifts are covered at all times
  • Centralizing all employee scheduling data creates a lasting memory in the event of an audit
  • Optimizes labor costs without compromising productivity or sales
  • Having happy and productive managers and employees makes for a productive and successful team
  • Better employee engagement and less turnover, thereby lowering HR costs

This leads to a happier team, happier customers and a healthier bottom line.

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