It’s nearly holiday time! Whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, or some other holiday that you have no clue about its origins (there are many of these for us at GetApp in Barcelona), it’s exciting for employees, but a nightmare for overworked managers who need to think about shift scheduling and planning.
If you’re using pen and paper or Excel for shift planning then you’ll only be creating more issues for yourself. It’s time consuming, confusing, and error prone to plan your employees’ schedule in this way. For example, the average restaurant manager spends between one and eight hours a week creating employee schedules using spreadsheets and printed ledgers, according to a survey by TimeForge.
This becomes even more of an issue as a business grows and the number of employees increase because the complexities related to shift scheduling quickly multiply. You have to take into account:
Work hour limitations
Different roles and skill sets.
Any last-minute changes can throw a major wrench in the process, which is where employee shift scheduling software comes in. We’ve put together some reasons you should invest in shift planning software for your small business.
Employee shift scheduling software automates what was previously a manual process, saving significant time. Managers input each employee’s preferences once, and cloud-based shift planning software takes those preferences into account each time new schedules are generated.
Managers don’t have to worry about remembering which cashiers can’t work on Mondays, or which part-time employees go to school during the day. As a result, they are better able to focus their attention on more innovation, and pressing management issues.
Connecting employee shift scheduling software to POS or CRM platforms makes it possible for companies to harness raw customer data and use that information to make better staffing decisions. Using POS data, managers can see when their stores or restaurants are busiest and seamlessly adjust employee shifts to account for customer demand.
For example, if a retailer is always busy on Saturday mornings, then the POS system will feed that information into the shift planning software, and an additional staffer will be assigned to an early morning shift.
Let employees deal with last-minute shift changes on their own. Rather than asking a manager to find someone else to cover a shift, or emailing the entire staff to find a replacement, cloud-based tools offer a way for employees to connect with each other to make shift swaps themselves.
Deals for shift coverage can be worked out via in-app messaging systems. Self-scheduling features allow employees to make the appropriate changes to their schedules without bogging down managers with unnecessary requests. This level of autonomy also makes staff feel like they are in control of their schedule and don’t have to go through unnecessary admin to swap shifts, which can help aid employee satisfaction and decrease turnover.
If you’re using pen and paper or Excel, one simple change to a weekly staff schedule can have a rippling effect that takes hours to sort out. By switching from spreadsheets to automated software, every member of staff has access to the most up-to-date schedule at all times, and managers can quickly generate completely new schedules at any point during the week.
Scheduling tools will still take employee preferences into account when making scheduling adjustments, and staffers can be notified automatically if any of their shifts have moved as a result of the changes.
With self-service portals and mobile apps, shift planning software allows employees to access their schedule no matter where they are or what time of day it is. For example, if an employee is on holiday and wants to quickly check their shifts for when they return, they can easily do that via a mobile app.
With automatic notifications, any changes made to the schedule will be sent via email or SMS, with push notifications for instant reminders. Staff can also receive reminders days or hours before a shift is due to start.
This eliminates the chances of an employee claiming that he or she didn’t know that a particular shift was scheduled.
If you’re running a restaurant then you’ll have different needs than if you’re running a hardware store or a bakery, especially when it comes to planning your schedule. With cloud-based shift scheduling software, you can set up different profiles for different roles so you have the right mix of staff for the shift. For example, if you only have names in front of you, then you might schedule five chefs but only one waiter, or ten employees but no manager.
You can also add skill sets to each profile. For example if you have a construction business and you need to schedule someone with electrical engineering experience, you can see at a glance which employee would fit the bill. This also applies for locations: you can make sure that you have the right mix of staff scheduled across all stores or restaurants.
If there is a particular shift planning solution that you recommend, let us know in the comments below or by leaving a review.
If you ready to look for a new piece of software, then check out the top five employee scheduling apps, all of which have been recommended by GetApp reviewers.
This post was first published in November 2013 and has been updated.