Employee scheduling issues can be a nightmare for managers and team members alike. Besides the obvious negative impact on workplace productivity and morale, it’s also one of the main reasons employees quit. If you want your business to continue running smoothly and prosperously in the long run, managing employee scheduling problems should be our top priority.
This guide takes a deeper look at common scheduling problems—its most common types and effective tips to overcome them—to boost employee productivity and organizational profitability.
Why Is Effective Employee Scheduling Important?
A well-planned schedule is the difference between satisfied, productive employees and lethargic, frustrated ones. Optimal scheduling also ensures you have the right people present at the right time to deliver quality customer service.
Here are five reasons to give you more insight into why resolving employee scheduling issues is worth it:
As a business, ensuring customers have the best possible experience is your biggest priority. But to ensure this, you need to always have enough staff on duty, preferably with members who can deal with customer needs promptly and effectively.
Employee scheduling allows you to plan your staff needs ahead of time, eliminating common employee scheduling issues like last-minute cancellations and employee no-shows.
Smooth and Uninterrupted Daily Operations
For any business to thrive, smooth and steady daily operations are a necessity.
As a manager, you’re responsible for chalking out your employees’ job roles and informing them about their work hours. In turn, the employees should ensure they complete the assigned tasks within the allotted time frame. This will ultimately create a well-oiled system that helps maximize productivity.
Fair Treatment of Staff
Another advantage of employee scheduling is the fair distribution of workload.
Allocate and keep track of overtime hours to avoid overburdening employees. You can also allocate leaves using schedule reports, giving staff members time off based on the number of hours they have worked during the year.
Easy Attendance Management and Shift Management
With a proper schedule in place, you can manage employee attendance more effectively. For example, if you find an employee regularly coming in late to work or taking too many leaves, you can quickly take the appropriate action and resolve the issue.
Similarly, if your business runs 24/7, effective employee scheduling ensures the right employees are scheduled for different shifts. For instance, if your restaurant is busy during brunch and dinner times, you can schedule experienced employees during those shifts to ensure efficient and smooth service.
The fact that all shifts are transparent ensures employees don’t feel disgruntled about favoritism in the workplace.
7 Employee Scheduling Issues That Reduce Productivity
Let’s look at the most common employee scheduling challenges that lead to job dissatisfaction and lower workplace productivity.
Remember the idiom, too much of anything is good for nothing? It’s why overscheduling is such a huge problem.
Employees aren’t robots. You can’t expect them to be at 100% percent efficiency without giving them adequate time to rest. While overtime here and there is expected, don’t go overboard to the point of messing up their work-life balance. You want to particularly avoid the “clopen slot,” where an employee does the last shift of the day, followed by the first shift of the next day.
Additionally, most employees are protected under federal and state regulations. If this applies to your staff, make sure you’re giving employees eight hours between shifts.
2. Shortage of Employees
Productivity declines are common for understaffed businesses, especially when an unexpected demand springs up or the workload suddenly explodes. If you don’t have enough employees running the show, your customers ultimately won’t be happy, which also means your bottom line will take a serious hit.
Also, if you don’t know your employees‘ availability, you cannot manage them efficiently, further contributing to scheduling chaos. For example, if two or more of your retail staff don’t turn up for work, and you have an influx of customers due to a large event, you’ll soon find yourself in the middle of a customer service nightmare.
3. Last-minute Absences
Another employee scheduling issue is real life getting in the way of work.
Your employees may fail to show up last minute because of domestic reasons and health problems. Think about sick kids, sudden illnesses, family emergencies, automobile mishaps, travel delays, and other unforeseen obstacles. It’s also not uncommon to have multiple leave requests from different employees during the same week, especially during the holiday season.
If you don’t have an emergency or backup plan in place to handle unexpected staff unavailability, the entire work schedule may be derailed.
4. Shift Swapping
There’s nothing wrong with allowing team members to manage their own schedules, subject to certain restrictions, of course. Some may even argue it will take a huge weight off your shoulders.
However, not monitoring how often your staff exchanges their shifts with colleagues can also lead to chaos and conflicts. For example, a substitute may forget about the new shift or an inexperienced replacement may not be able to handle the rush during a busy shift.
In either case, you’ll face undue stress due to delays in operations and risk to the company’s reputation.
5. Employee Turnover
When you hire an employee, you can also get access to their skillset, experience, and expertise. When the same employee leaves the company, not only do you lose access to the skills but also invest additional time and resources to hire a good replacement.
It’s why high turnover has a negative impact on your business.
If you have employees leaving your company, start by gauging your scheduling style to see if it’s the reason behind poor employee engagement or poor communication.
6. Unfair Scheduling
It’s normal to have employees who are slightly more dedicated and skilled than others. Still, you shouldn’t play favorites, especially because you can face charges on the grounds of discrimination.
Another aspect of unfair scheduling is not giving an employee the required time off or neglecting applicable employee scheduling laws. For example, Philadelphia recently increased the advance notice period for predictive scheduling from 10 to 14 days. This means Philadelphia-based businesses are mandated to notify staff members of any scheduling change 14 days prior to the day of the work.
7. Conforming to Labor Laws
The government has passed certain local labor laws to protect the rights of shift employees, and non-compliance may lead to hefty penalties.
However, with these laws constantly changing and involving multiple rules to ensure compliance, it adds another layer of constraint and complexity to an already complicated task of creating optimal schedules.
How to Overcome Common Employee Scheduling Issues
The good news is you can take certain precautionary measures to overcome the above scheduling challenges.
Here are our top tips to resolve employee scheduling issues:
Hire Enough Employees
To run a business optimally, you need enough staff on board. It’s a prerequisite.
Additionally, by hiring more people, you can create more reliable schedules that empower both team members and the organization as a whole. However, you must keep certain pointers in mind when hiring to build a capable team.
- Ensure you have the right balance between your senior and junior staff
- Have enough employees available for different shifts—morning, evening, night, and weekend
- Anticipate how many employees you need to prevent understaffing
Set Clear Expectations Around Scheduling
Make sure your employees are clear on what’s expected of them and which policies and rules they need to follow. This will help you remove scheduling challenges and avoid conflicts due to miscommunication and mishaps.
Set up a schedule notice to go a minimum of 7-14 days in advance. Alternatively, you can implement a notification and compensation policy for accommodating last-minute scheduling changes.
Be sure to ask employees beforehand if they’ll volunteer during emergencies, and accordingly set up overtime bonuses. When handling multiple time-off requests, make sure you’re fair and consistent to avoid disgruntled employees.
Ensure Adequate Time Between Shifts
When creating employee schedules, you must ensure they have enough time to head back home and rest before joining in the next day. In fact, several jurisdictions in the United States, including Oregon, New York, Vermont, and San Francisco, have already passed scheduling rules to prevent employee exploitation and facilitate better management and breaks.
While these rules haven’t made their way across all industries and job roles, it’s wise to adopt a consistent policy that benefits both your employees and the organization. Make sure you constantly monitor shifts to prevent clopen problems.
Encourage and Maintain Transparent Communication
Many managers don’t realize how transparent and effective communication can solve common employee scheduling issues.
Create a clear and transparent communication channel for your team so that employees can send and receive messages through one preferred medium. Don’t accept messages through other channels to avoid mix-ups or delayed messages. For instance, if you want Gmail to be the official medium, don’t encourage employees to send text messages or follow up on Slack.
This is the easiest way to create consistent accountability and streamline scheduling.
Get Employee Scheduling Software
Using an efficient scheduling system is the perfect aid to tackle employee scheduling issues.
Generally, an employee scheduling software tool helps you:
- Schedule tasks and shifts
- Streamline employee workflows
- Prevent overlapping shifts, clopen, and other scheduling conflicts
- Customize scheduling options
- Track absenteeism and leave
- Analyze employee schedules using real-time metrics
To get started, check out our best employee scheduling software guide. We’ve reviewed and tested several top-rated solutions available on the market.
3 Tools to Resolve Employee Scheduling Issues
Here are three tools to simplify creating staff work schedules, track employee hours, manage shifts, and reduce labor costs, among several other tasks.
Homebase is an intuitive and cost-effective employee scheduling solution with several HR and payroll functions to manage employee schedules and resolve staffing issues—all while helping you save money. It also offers a robust free version to ensure your team is always in sync.
Connecteam is an ideal employee scheduling software solution for remote workforces. Its geofencing feature allows you to manage your team in the field, while a handy mobile app makes it easier than ever to distribute employee schedules. A host of time-saving features, such as drag-and-drop options, the ability to copy last week’s shifts, and automated reminders, keep you on top of your workload.
Deputy is another excellent employee scheduling option to inform, manage, recognize, and reward employees—all with a few clicks. A handy ‘News Feed’ feature lets you quickly distribute important information with your team, and an integrated task management feature ensures employees know what needs to be done for the day. You can also maintain detailed employee journals and documentation directly in the system.
Final Thoughts About Employee Scheduling Issues
Efficient employee scheduling creates the ultimate win-win situation for managers and employees.
By investing time in creating a fair and flexible schedule, you can instantly improve business efficiency and reduce employee stress to create a happy, thriving workplace. The fact that it also facilitates compliance with applicable regulations, reducing the risk and labor costs associated with negligence, is another significant benefit.
Interested in building a more productive and fair workplace for your employees? Give the following a read: