3 Ways To Schedule Your Employees (+ Google Calendar Shift Schedule)
If you run or manage a business that employs hourly workers, you no doubt are using something for scheduling and coordination. For many, the answer is either pen and paper or a spreadsheet. That said, there are some great ways you can leverage free apps and schedule maker services to step up your scheduling game and graduate from pen and paper or spreadsheets. While they all have their pros and cons, here are three ways to schedule employees that you may find helpful.
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1. Shared Google Calendar
You can use Google Calendar to schedule and coordinate the work schedule for your employees. Here are the steps:
- Open Google Calendar and click on the arrow next to “Other Calendars.” Then, select the plus sign and “Create New Calendar.”
- Name your new calendar and enter a brief description if you’d like. Now you’re ready to start adding events, which will serve as your shifts.
- Be sure to set your time zone and select the times that apply to your working hours.
- Click on “Create Calendar.”
- Double check that this new calendar appears under your “My Calendar” list. Once it is, you’re ready to use it as your scheduler.
This method works best if you only have a handful of employees. They’ll always see the most current schedule when they check the calendar. And maybe it’s best selling point, it’s free.
It can be a bit tedious to navigate Google Calendar if you have several people to schedule every week. Plus, it lacks a reliable communication functionality if you make schedule changes regularly. You’re going to have to remember to send out a reminder to check the schedule every time it changes.
Google Calendar is best suited for very small businesses with a few employees and extremely simple schedules.
2. WhatApp with group chat
This one is interesting and is more of a communication app than an actual scheduling tool. WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. So before we get into using WhatApp, first pick your favorite employee scheduling tool—pen and paper, spreadsheet, When I Work, Google Calendar, etc.
WhatsApp works across platforms, so it doesn’t matter if your employees have an Android or Apple device. You can quickly and easily message schedule-related links, photos, and messages, regardless of platform. The communication is instant, no phone calls or emails.
The biggest challenge with this method is that all your employees need a smart phone to run WhatsApp. It’s not a scheduling tool, so you have to find something separate and incorporate it into your system. If you use a spreadsheet, you might put the file on Dropbox and then send the link to your staff. If you use pen and paper, you might take a picture of the schedule and send the pic using WhatsApp. This may sound a little ad-hoc, but when you’re looking for free scheduling and communication tools, you need to get creative.
WhatsApp is best for businesses who already have a scheduling solution in place that they like, but just need a communication add-on. As long as the entire staff has smart phones, it’s a great way to communicate with your employees.
3. Online employee scheduling tools
Google “employee scheduling software” and you’ll be 90% of the way there. If you’re a developer savvy individual, there are some free open source scheduling tools that you could install and configure.
These would be self-hosted solutions that might be more than you want to tackle, but they’re out there. Do a search on GitHub or SourceForge for “employee scheduler” and you’ll find a couple. There are also some employee scheduling apps in the app stores that are free to download and have free trials to get started. Just do a search in the Play Store or App Store for ’employee scheduling’ or ‘work schedule maker’ and you’ll find a few.
You can get a more advanced solution for free if you have the extra time and know-how to finesse the software to make it work for you.
You need to be tech-savvy and have some software skills to make the solution right for your business.
Online employee scheduling software is great for every business. It’s the easiest way to schedule your team and make sure they’ll always aware of the latest changes. If you’re looking for a turnkey solution, you may need to spend a few dollars every month, but the time savings will easily pay for itself.
The good news is that there are several options available for improving your employee scheduling beyond pen and paper or spreadsheets. Using a shared Google Calendar, a group chat feature like WhatsApp, or online employee scheduling tools are all viable choices. As long as you take into account the needs of your business and the preferences of your employees—you should be able a method that suits your workplace. Ultimately, the right solution will depend on the size of your business, your budget, and the level of communication your team needs. The right method will streamline your employee scheduling and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your business.