Employee Scheduling

Learning Objectives

  • List the key aspects of efficient employee scheduling

Employee scheduling can be a tricky task. All employees have different needs and skills. Your retail operation also has different needs during different times of the day. It can be a challenge to coordinate the two. Depending on the type of retail establishment you are scheduling for, there are some tricks to creating the most economic schedule you can while keeping employees and customers happy.

Let’s say you are scheduling for a restaurant. If you operate from 7am to 9pm, there will be times of the day when you are busy, and times when you are not. The breakfast, lunch and dinner rushes will obviously need more coverage, but how do you cover those times while still maintaining happy employees?

  1. Know your employees. This includes knowing their skills, strengths and weaknesses to make sure the shift runs smoothly. Don’t have three dishwashers, one cook and no prep folks on a restaurant shift, or three sales clerks and no managers on a retail store shift (especially if none of the clerks have access to void a sale or accept a return).
  2. Build shifts around your star employees. If you have a few folks who you know can run the show, build a shift around them. This may include personality type, making sure you have someone outgoing covering the front of the house or someone who is meticulous covering the kitchen. Also insure that you have people with the right certifications on each shift. An example here might be insuring that you have a kitchen manager on each shift if it is a requirement of your licensing.
  3. Have a way for the employees to communicate with each other. A text list or a messenger app is the best way with the prevalence of smartphones. Have a way for employees to message others if they need a replacement or would like to trade shifts. Requiring employees to find their own substitutes for rescheduling will save you time as well.
  4. Get the schedule out in a timely manner. Employees can plan better if the schedule is out early. The best is if you can have it out two weeks before the end of the current schedule. This allows employees time to reschedule any personal commitments or trade shift.
  5. As much as possible, make sure to honor time off requests and work preferences. This isn’t always possible, but it does help to increase employee satisfaction and keep good employees! It can be a huge time consumer for the scheduler though, so keeping some type of document or cloud based system will work best for this task.
  6. Delegate responsibility to employees. Schedule one or two of your best employees on each shift, and then give everyone access to the incomplete schedule and let them fill in when they want to work. Note: this will not work for all businesses, but if you have one where it will work, it will save you a ton of time.
  7. Use part-time labor, if possible. Have a list of part-time available employees for those inevitable times when there is an emergency or you need someone quickly.

There will always be challenges in the scheduling process. This may be especially true when you are a new manager. Keep notes, make it as automated as possible with a good cloud based scheduling system and continue every scheduling cycle to streamline your processes. It becomes easier over time, but make sure to keep improving the process.

Practice Questions