7 Easy Solutions to the Most Common Scheduling Problems
Scheduling problems are constantly among the top reasons employees quit. In fact, there are few things (aside from bookkeeping) that cause so many headaches for managers and company owners. But for your business to run smoothly and be prosperous, proactively managing your scheduling issues should be a top priority.
Here are seven of the most common (and aggravating!) scheduling issues managers run into regularly, and how to eliminate them:
1. Shortage of Employees
We’ve all been there – it’s an average day, until the workload suddenly explodes. Either more customers pile into your shop or your clients decide to call and book an entire month’s work. Whatever the case may be, the end result is the same – you simply don’t have enough help.
The easy solution is to call in your backups, cancel days off and consider paying overtime. However, this type of understaffing is usually a symptom of one of two chronic conditions: either you don’t have enough employees to begin with or you don’t forecast correctly.
If you’re actually understaffed, you need to hire more people. Sometimes that’s a hard thing to convince yourself of – especially if your business is small. But realistically, the amount of hassle and headaches you’ll avoid by creating an employee buffer is worth the extra payroll any day of the week.
If you have enough employees but aren’t scheduling them at the right times, the fix is a little more involved. Tracking past sales/workload and using it to predict future trends is absolutely essential. Use prediction and tracking software if you have it available. Just remember to track everything on a daily/weekly basis and include everything from sales figures to the weather (if it’s pertinent) when improving your employee forecasts.
Employees aren’t robots. They need downtime. You can’t expect them to be at 100% efficiency if they only got six hours of sleep last night. And while you can’t control what they do off the clock, you can give them adequate time to rest and recharge between shifts.
While most types of employees are covered by federal and state regulations – which typically require eight hours between shifts – some are not. And sometimes shifts are “scrunched” together accidentally.
Consider this… An employee is scheduled to close up at 10 PM and open at 8 AM. Sounds good, right – that leaves 10 hours between shifts. But by the time the 30 minute commute (each way) is over, dinner is made and wolfed down, and the necessary hygienic routine is observed (brush teeth, shower, shave and so on), your employee may only be getting five or six hours of real rest. And that doesn’t account for time with family and friends.
For this reason, it’s a better idea to try to give employees at least 12 hours between shifts. If that’s not possible, arrange things so they can get two days off together. This extended period away from work will allow them to decrease their sleep deficit, forget work for a while, and punch back in ready and refreshed.
A paper and pen just isn’t going to cut it anymore – most scheduling programs are too rigid and inflexible. This method doesn’t conform to the various sizes of businesses and isn’t customizable for each industry. Ultimately, the end result is usually just a printout that gets tacked up on a corkboard.
The solution to this issue is finding a full-featured time clock software that gives you the flexibility and resources you need to create an organized schedule that works for everyone.
In addition to traditional scheduling duties, a good time clock app will help you send digital schedules and text updates to employees, and help managers quickly find shift replacements.
4. Last-Minute Absences
Real life has a tendency to get in the way of work. Sick kids, automobile mishaps, illnesses and other unforeseen obstacles can all keep your employees from showing up last-minute. In a case like this, the worst thing you can do is panic.
The simplest solution is to find somebody else to fill that shift. Ask employees who are already on the clock if they would like to stay and cover the open shift. Offer incentives like overtime (if applicable) or suggest they switch days off or shorten shifts for the remainder of the week.
If no one in-house can help out, time to hit the phone tree. Calling off duty employees is a bit of a chore, but if you have an adequate number of staff members with open availability, the opportunity to grab some extra hours is probably going to be attractive to someone.
5. Employee Turnover
Employee turnover is one of the fastest ways to lose precious time and resources. When your business deals with high turnover rates, scheduling turns from an organized process to chasing down employees for shift replacements.
If this is an issue for your business, check out these tips to reduce employee turnover. By implementing changes like better benefits, positive recognition and open communication, you keep employees happy… and onboard for scheduling.
6. Not Planning for Vacations (and Other Paid Time Off)
Everybody deserves a little break, but plotting coverage for these scheduled periods can be a bit difficult. Consider cross-training the employees you already have. Instead of adding to the payroll, you’re adding to the value of individual employees.
You can incentivize employees by offering bonuses, increased rates of pay or scheduling preference. That way, you’re increasing your pool of available workers without increasing your workforce.
7. Lack of Availability
Workers want to work around their lives. Some prefer day shifts, others night shifts. Some want to work weekends, others refuse to. As a result, it can be a challenge to accommodate everybody.
The solution to this problem is to hire a well-balanced crew. Have a few early birds, a few night owls and a couple of part-timers (maybe high school or college students) who can only work weekends. That way, you keep everyone happy – including your customers.