January 1, 2024

7 Employee Scheduling Mistakes to Avoid in 2024


Employee scheduling brings many challenges—last-minute changes, making adjustments during busy periods, and compliance with union and legal requirements, to name a few. However, accessing modern scheduling solutions can eliminate the guesswork and manual effort associated with employee scheduling, making it easier to schedule the right mix of employees for every shift.

To be sure you’re scheduling employees in the most efficient way possible this year, avoid the following mistakes:

1. Relying on Manual Employee Scheduling Methods

Using paper schedules or a whiteboard posted in the employee break room leaves you open to scheduling errors. It will leave you scrambling for replacements if employees call in sick, go on vacation, or are late for a shift. Even spreadsheets and calendar apps, which use some basic technology, are over-reliant on time-consuming manual inputs.

Instead of sitting for hours creating a schedule every pay period, you can use employee scheduling software to automate the whole process, including creating schedules, making automatic adjustments according to your policies, and sending notifications of any scheduling exceptions. Additionally, because the software is cloud-based, employees and managers can stay informed and view live schedules both in and outside work.

2. Not Having a Way to Track Employee Availability

To maximize your organization’s productivity, it’s critical to have a reliable way to track employee availability. Otherwise, you can accidentally schedule them to work when they’re out on leave or otherwise unable to work.

Employee scheduling software allows you to avoid this mistake by enabling employees to share when they’re unavailable for work. If you desire, you can also empower employees to take other actions, such as selecting preferred shifts and trading shifts with coworkers. The software incorporates individual preferences and availability, and schedules employees only for hours they’re available to work. For example, TCP’s Humanity scheduling solution for higher education enables student employees to enter their availability so they aren’t scheduled to work when they have class.

3. “Guesstimating” Shift Coverage Needs

Even if you have a general understanding of your busy and quiet periods, it can be challenging to schedule employees so you have the correct number working at the right times. Using guesswork to create schedules only increases the likelihood of having either too many or not enough employees working, which can increase labor costs and contribute to employee burnout.

Alternatively, an employee scheduling solution like TCP’s Humanity Demand-Driven Scheduling simplifies shift scheduling and removes the guesswork. It uses data inputs to help you create schedules that flex to meet demand. For example, the solution can use check-in rates and procedure frequency data to help a healthcare facility schedule the correct number of clinicians, administrative staff, and custodial staff. Using this data-driven approach, it’s possible to schedule shifts to match the activity level in areas such as the emergency room and diagnostic procedure areas.

4. Allowing Employees to Work Excessive Overtime

Empowering employees to have more control over when they work makes a lot of sense, but that empowerment shouldn’t result in excessive overtime. When employees pick up too many overtime shifts, payroll expenses rise and employees can become stressed and burned out. In fact, a meta-analysis of over 200 studies found a causal link between excessive working hours and several adverse outcomes, including increased risk of fatigue, sleep disruption, and occupational injury.

Employee scheduling software helps you manage employee overtime by limiting the number of overtime hours employees can pick up during a defined period. You can also configure the software to send notifications when employees approach overtime and working hour limits.

5. Not Having a Reliable Way to Comply with Labor Laws

No matter the type of workforce you manage, labor laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and local predictive scheduling laws can impact your shift scheduling activities. Additionally, if you manage unionized employees, you must also comply with applicable collective bargaining agreements.

Managing labor law compliance informally or with spreadsheets can lead to errors and hefty non-compliance penalties. But with employee scheduling technology, you can configure the software to help you stay in compliance with applicable scheduling requirements. TCP’s scheduling solutions make it easy to assign overtime, notify employees of schedule changes, and track required meal and break times.

6. Not Scheduling the Optimal Mix of Rank and Skills in a Shift

In some industries, employee scheduling is more complex because of the mix of employee skills required on each shift. For example, a municipal fire department may require a combination of firefighters, lieutenants, and a fire chief on every shift. Relying on manual scheduling methods can result in miscalculating the number of ranks on each shift, and can also make it harder to fill scheduling gaps. Alternatively, a solution like TCP’s Aladtec Scheduling for Public Safety automates complex shift scheduling and can be configured to build schedules with the required mix of employee skill sets and ranks.

7. Managing Scheduling in a Vacuum

Employee scheduling is just one part of workforce management, and if you manage it in a silo, you can miss out on all the benefits of integration. Instead, you can reduce double-entry and calculation errors by integrating employee scheduling with other workforce management activities, including time tracking, leave management, and payroll.

TCP offers hundreds of integrations with payroll platforms, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and human capital management (HCM) systems, all designed to help you incorporate your automated time, attendance and employee scheduling platform with the technology your organization already uses.

This year, avoid scheduling mistakes that can waste your time and send your labor costs soaring. To learn more about TCP’s suite of scheduling solutions, contact us for a demo.