by Karen McCandless
Published on 10 November 2015
As holiday season approaches, your employees' thoughts will often start to turn to vacations, time off, shopping, and anything but work. Conversely, for many companies, this is the busiest time of the year, when extra staff are needed to handle the crazy demand that the season brings. As the mayhem kicks in, scheduling employees to make sure you're not understaffed and losing business is crucial.
How do you schedule your employees shifts during the holiday period? According to a recent study, more than half of service organizations manually schedule hourly employees. Not only is this extra time and effort, it's also a lot less effective and more error prone. The good news is that there are cloud-based employee scheduling apps out there that can take the headache out of this process and allow you to concentrate your efforts elsewhere.
WorkJam is a cloud-based, mobile and web-accessible employee relationship management platform that allows organizations in the service industry to manage and optimize the entire employee-employer relationship life cycle. This ranges from sourcing, qualifying, hiring, and onboarding to scheduling and evaluating hourly workers.
"As holiday mayhem kicks into gear, employers can use WorkJam to tremendously reduce the time and effort they spend on scheduling, and concentrate their efforts elsewhere in the organization," says Steven Kramer, CEO and co-founder of WorkJam.
With When I Work, business owners don't have to waste time tracking down employees, reminding them about their upcoming shifts, or trying to find replacements for people who want to take time off. The software makes it easy for employees to set their own availability, get automatic reminders about when they work next, and they can even swap shifts with coworkers and request time off-all the manager or business owner needs to do is approve the request. The mobile apps allow business owners to get away from their desks and manage everything on-the-go and they mean that employees never have to call in or come in to check when they work next.
"It saves a lot of headaches and allows business owners to focus their time on the business-whether that means spending time on the sales floor, fulfilling sales orders, managing fulfillment, or helping customers," says Rob Wormley, head of Content Marketing at When I Work.
This list wouldn't be complete without ShiftPlanner, which took first place for both employee scheduling and workforce management in GetRank, GetApp's quarterly independent ranking of business apps. ShiftPlanner is popular on our site, with reviewer Eric Blomberg, logistics coordinator at Alchemy Audio/Visual Concert Systems, saying: "ShiftPlanning has completely changed the way we do business. As a logistics coordinator for a small business that operates in many different locations over any given day, ShiftPlanning allows all of our employees to say up to date when any schedule changes and gives them exact directions to any remote work sites. Complete game changer for a small business. Would definitely recommend it."
NimbleSchedule is another app that featured in the GetRank employee scheduling category, being narrowly pipped to the post by ShiftPlanner and When I Work. NimbleSchedule scored well here in integrations, meaning that it will work well with the rest of the business software you have in place, and installation won't result in massive company disruption. As well as a whole host of useful features, it comes with free setup and support so you'll be up and running in no time.
Deputy was well placed inside the top ten in employee scheduling in our rankings thanks both to its integrations and its mobile apps, which allow you to schedule shifts from your Android or iOS device. Once you've completed the scheduling, you can send your staff notifications via email, SMS or push notification, and allow them to confirm their shifts directly from there. Deputy's mobile apps also feature geo-tagging, meaning employees can clock in from their device, while the Deputy Kiosk iPad app comes with face detection for an even more secure option!
One of Humanity's most useful features that helps with employee scheduling during peak times is Forecast, which brings together data from inside your business and from third-party apps and displays it in easy-to-understand graphs. You can also perform analysis by creating comparisons between different data points (for example, time of year) and perform calculations based on that. Forecast integrates with Humanity's Scheduler feature to allow you to create an efficient schedule for the future. Every time a change is made to this schedule, all affected employees receive notifications on their mobile devices.
Planday is an app aimed at simplifying scheduling for both business owners and employees. Employees can log in to the system anywhere, from any device to view and swap shifts. Managers can do the same, as well as approve requests to swap or take open shifts. Its geo-tagging feature means that your workers can clock in to shifts from the mobile app and, to make sure it is the right employee that is clocking in, you can set up the system to only allow this action to be carried out via certain IP addresses.
If you think we've missed anything, let us know what you use to ensure effective and efficient employee scheduling at peak periods in the comments below. If you still need some more information check out which app other businesses are using in via our independent reviews, or see our latest report into the trends and challenges faced by businesses in this area.