June 1, 2021

5 Must-Haves for Managing Complex Student Employee Schedules

Students and other part-time employees need flexible and dynamic schedules for the irregular work hours they fit in around classes or other obligations. The upside? Their flexibility can often save the day, as many are eager to pick up shifts on short notice. 

The downside? Scheduling the complex and fluid availability of a largely student workforce isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the biggest challenges in retail, food service, higher education or seasonal employee management.

5 Ways to Make Shift Scheduling a Breeze

Managing all the moving parts of your business is hard enough without the juggling act of shift scheduling. It’s like a not-so-fun game of musical chairs. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With these mindset shifts and the right tools, scheduling around your part-time employees’ ever-changing calendars can be easier than you ever imagined.

1. Be Flexible
The part-time employee pool consists primarily of Gen Z students. As we learned with Millennials, an entire generation’s expectations can significantly affect workplace practices. Gen Zeers (age 6 to 24) who are eligible to work expect real-time communications along with remote options and flexible schedules where possible. Unlike fulltime or salaried employees, their job isn’t their biggest or their only obligation. Their work schedule is a juggling act for them, too.

With nearly 68 million Gen Zeers in the US, sticking to rigid scheduling traditions could leave you at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting part-time talent. Taking the leap to a more flexible work schedule is complicated if you try to manage it manually. But the right workforce management (WFM) software allows student workers to share their school schedules so their availability can be dynamically factored in when schedules are being built. When your platform includes dynamic scheduling, employees do the inputting and the platform integrates their information into a conflict-free schedule, so you can focus on your business.

Presto! Schedules are filled and employees are retained because you are willing to work around their busy lives.

2. Go Digital
Gen Zeers are the first fully native digital generation, having no memory of life before cell phones. They expect to use a mobile app for their work interactions so they can get reminders, update their availability and pick up shifts at their convenience. They rely heavily on digital notifications to keep themselves on time and caught up.

The challenge of constantly communicating schedules, schedule changes and sudden shift openings to part-time employees seems daunting to many, but a good WFM solution will automate notifications to workers. With flexible shifts, it’s easy for employees to forget their schedules, but the mobile app will remind them to ensure everyone shows up as scheduled.

3. Schedule Better with Demand-Based Scheduling
To better optimize your scheduling, take advantage of tools that not only take into account the full spectrum of availability, roles and limits of each employee, but also demand-based data. What does that mean? You can apply organizational data such as rush hours or service provider-to-customer ratios, to build schedules based on demand. TCP’s Humanity Scheduling offers Demand-Driven Scheduling which does just this. It helps minimize the risk of under or overstaffing, which reduces labor costs on the business side and prevents burnout or too much downtime on the employee’s side.

With optimum work schedules for individuals and fully functional shift coverage for employers, Demand-Driven Scheduling is a game changer that not all WFM solutions include.

4. Enable Self-Service
As if creating a schedule isn’t challenging enough, it rarely stays put. Someone always has a conflict, leaving you to rearrange and scramble to fill unexpected openings.

Self-service WFM platforms allow employees to find open shifts and set recurring changes (i.e., due to changing class schedule) or one-off unavailability (i.e., doctor appointments) on their own. Their updated data is automatically integrated into the scheduling process, notifying other employees of unexpected work opportunities.

Result? Fewer no-shows and happier employees.

5. Rest Easy About Compliance
Managing labor law compliance isn’t easy. Different states have different rules, and your organization may have its own set of unique policies. To add to that complexity, the Affordable Care Act mandates health care coverage for all full-time employees, defined as individuals working 30 hours per week. These rules can make finding the perfect balance of hours for student employees extra complicated.

Manually managing complicated and erratic work schedules to keep up with individual hours is another thing. It’s easy for an employee to work a few too many hours, so it’s imperative to have a solution that monitors limits and automatically prevents unnecessary overtime. Your WFM solution should notify you of an hours-worked conflict, giving you the opportunity to choose or reject a schedule that would result in overtime payment.

TCP’s TimeClock Plus software was designed to take all the chaos and confusion out of managing complex schedules for part-time and student workforce employees. Learn more about TCP’s Scheduling solutions.