July 7, 2020

Four Shift Scheduling Challenges – And How to Make Them Tolerable


For organizations that operate 24/7, scheduling employees to work in shifts is essential. Effective employee shift management ensures all hours of operation are covered and helps increase productivity. However, managing weekly shift schedules is no small task. Here are four of the top challenges facing managers who schedule for shifts, and how employee scheduling software can ease the burden.

1. Building weekly schedules

Scheduling for shifts can be a painstaking process that consumes far too much of a manager’s time. Some managers even claim to spend up to 12 hours on a one-week schedule  –  that’s a full day and a half of work! Many organizations use Excel spreadsheets to create staff schedules, and some are still using pen and paper. Manually writing out the schedule and entering information is not only time intensive, it’s also costly. Each hour a manager spends on scheduling is an hour they aren’t overseeing day-to-day operations to ensure the organization runs efficiently and effectively. Rotating shift scheduling software allows managers to create scheduling templates and re-use them each week. The software also gives mangers the ability to automatically copy schedules or rotations, so they don’t waste time re-entering repeating schedule information. One of the most time-consuming aspects of shift scheduling is managing time-off and other schedule requests. With an employee scheduling app, employees can submit requests online and the request can be added to the schedule for easy reference. Managers can easily see if a request conflicts with any previously scheduled shifts.

2. Ensuring each shift is properly staffed

Some organizations, including healthcare and law enforcement, must adhere to strict staffing requirements. Others need to ensure they have enough people scheduled to meet operational goals. Although spreadsheets allow managers to enter formulas to perform certain calculations, formulas are subject to human error which can result in understaffed or overstaffed shifts or shifts that are staffed with underqualified personnel. Employee scheduling software frees managers from performing manual staffing calculations and reduces the risk of scheduling conflicts and errors. Some shift scheduling software also tracks employee attributes such as skills, certifications, and training. This helps maintain compliance and ensure every shift is accurately staffed with qualified employees. For added security, software such as ScheduleAnywhere automatically alerts managers when certifications are nearing expiration. 

3. Filling open shifts

When an employee calls in sick, or additional manpower is needed, it’s up to managers to cover the shift and communicate schedule needs. For organizations without scheduling tools, that means phone call after phone call to fill open shifts. Employee scheduling software streamlines communication, allowing managers to email or text individuals, all employees, or a select group of employees based on credentials, shift, skill, or availability. Software that lets employees instantly respond to managers’ outbound messages gives managers peace of mind knowing their message was received so they can focus on core responsibilities. Some software also allows managers to message other administrators about shared employees to further assist in covering open shifts or locating available employees.   

4. Communicating schedule information

Giving everyone access to accurate, up-to-date schedule information is critical to ensuring employees are working when and where they are scheduled. Spreadsheets and paper schedules can be emailed to employees or posted in the workplace, but what happens when the schedule changes? If the manager doesn’t contact each person whose schedule was affected, there is no way to communicate the revisions. This jeopardizes proper shift coverage. With employee scheduling software, managers can easily repost the schedule when changes occur, and affected employees are notified. Because employees can access work schedules anytime, anywhere, they always have up-to-date schedule information. Scheduling software that includes a mobile app provides added assurance that every employee knows when and where they are scheduled to work.

Shift scheduling can be a time-consuming and challenging process for organizations without scheduling tools. Learn how ScheduleAnywhere employee scheduling software ensures proper shift coverage, streamlines communication, and cuts the time managers spend on scheduling by up to 75 percent.

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