How to create a work schedule with ease

Organize work schedules using our advice

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Many managers often think that being informed about the number of departments, employees and work hours is enough to properly create an employee schedule. This approach can be acceptable for managers who don’t like to waste too much time and/or take the human factor into account.

We believe that a true expert has to be scrupulous when it comes to creating optimal work conditions. Our newest article won’t tell how to create a work schedule, but rather how to make it work in the most efficient way possible.

Organizing a work schedule starts with setting the optimal work time

The most common mistake made by managers is setting working hours, without taking into account worker preferences. Before you create an employee schedule, establish which working hours are preferred by workers. Maybe some of them are more productive in the morning, while others find evenings more preferable.

Don’t try to run after every individual worker. Instead, ask all of them to provide an availability chart. Ideally, this table shouldn’t only contain preferable working hours and days. It may also include information on when an employee can be available for some extra work, for example, if there is a colleague who called in sick.

Having an availability chart for all staff members will make it easier to find substitutes for any employee. This is especially important when the schedule has to be changed asap. Managers have to respect the worker's availability settings if they wish to keep good relationships with staff members and minimize worker turnover. We advise that you use a singular database that will store information on staff availability preferences.

Don’t forget that sometimes employees can’t make it to work. Because of this, they have to be able to make time-off requests. In order to avoid any unforeseen chaos, these requests have to be presented in an orderly fashion. Managers have to make it clear as to who has a right for time off, and who doesn’t. For example, a worker recently took a vacation or requested several breaks during the workday. His request will be denied, but he will be informed when a request can be made again.  The deadline of these requests and the frequency of making them have to be made crystal clear.

Prepare for unexpected changes in work schedule organization

A good manager should have a backup strategy in case all others fail. Even when there is a list of employees who can come to work at short notice, managers should prepare for a situation when none of the employees is available.

In order to avoid this scenario, there should be a list of semi-employed workers who can be contacted when no regular substitutes are available. This strategy can be easily employed by call-center and tech support managers.

The most sensible thing to do is to ask former employees for some help. They may no longer be part of the team but are on good terms with the management. We recommend paying attention to ex-coworkers who are currently working a part-time job or are unemployed. They will certainly won’t mind working with their ex-colleagues and there will be less explaining to do about the sort of work that has to be done.

Creating an employee schedule is a team effort

Managers often forget that scheduling employees don’t have to be a dull solitary task. Getting other workers involved greatly lifts the workload off their backs and helps improve team relationships.

Using specialized scheduling programs is one of the fastest ways of laying the groundwork for an employee timesheet. For example, the Shifton service allows creating a work timetable for all employees, based on pre-made shift-templates.

Managers can give those shift charts to the most skilled workers. That way they will choose the most productive shifts for themselves. Afterward, the rest of the options can be given to other coworkers.

Managers will then have to organize the work schedule and make necessary changes. The timetable can be published only when it has been polished clean. We suggest that you try out this method for a couple of months before deciding if it is good for your company.

Work schedule organization will go faster if workers find substitutes for themselves

Managers will find creating employee schedules much easier if they ask employees to look for their own substitutes. Should a staff member fall sick or not make it work for some other reason, there will be at least a couple of people who can work in his place. This approach will keep the workflow going and provide workers with additional income.

A company must have the means to prevent taking too many days off and breaks. Employees have to understand that all shift exchanges and substitutions are made through the management and won’t go into force unless given a green light. The exchange system should only allow workers with the same level of experience and expertise to exchange shifts with one another.

If you task employees with finding substitutes themselves, you will make them understand that regular workers play a role in organizing the workflow as much as managers do. In addition, employees will take their work schedule more seriously.