January 22, 2018

6 Key Employee Scheduling Trends to Watch in 2018


Year after year, the workforce continues to evolve and change with the times. If your workforce management tactics and processes are not evolving with the coming trends, you are bound to fall behind.

Keeping up with the changing face of today’s workforce is important for any employer or manager that wants to retain his or her best employees and continue building a happy and loyal staff around themselves.

As always, one of the most crucial processes you need to get right when it comes to both keeping staff happy and improving your bottom line is optimizing your employee scheduling process.

Here are some top workforce management trends that you should be looking out for this year when it comes to better, easier and more effective employee scheduling.

workforce management

Better Communication

Speaking in general terms, better communication is something that every business owner should be trying to achieve this year. A recently published study found that simple conversations between coworkers about their tasks can improve performance by 20 percent, which is why you should be promoting conversations and communication in your workplace and encouraging employees to talk about their work with each other instead of insisting on “quiet work.”

Better communication can improve just about every workforce management process and employee scheduling is one that surely benefits from open and available lines of communication between employees and managers.

Communication is especially important for businesses that have hourly workers and shifts that are constantly changing or can call for spur of the moment changes. Being able to contact employees from anywhere and at any time becomes imperative in these situations.

Anyone who has worked as a small business manager knows how hard it can be to coordinate with employees via phone or email. Using an online scheduling solution that has integrated and secure real-time messaging options is obviously a trend that many business owners are going to want to seek out in 2018 if they aren’t already using one.

By using online scheduling and workforce management software, you can not only get all of your schedules and shift changes out to your staff immediately and notify them of their work schedules easily, you can also communicate and collaborate from anywhere via mobile app.

The easier it is to talk to your staff, the better your team communication will undoubtedly be.


Today’s work environment is an increasingly mobile one – one in which employees don’t want to have to go through any unnecessary hassles to get their work schedules. If you’re still posting your schedules at your place of work and asking your employees to come in and photograph their shifts, you’re not going to have happy employees.

Your employees do their shopping online, they pay their bills using online banking, they chat with their friends online, how can they expect anything less from their scheduling?

It’s all about self-service these days, that’s why it’s very important for you to find a way to get your schedules online and allow your employees to access their schedules from anywhere. Your staff members will also want to be able to manage their schedules in the same fashion. They should be able to request to work open shifts, ask to trade shifts and request vacations online and from anywhere.

What’s great about self-service capabilities is that they not only empower your employees to be more independent, they also help you to streamline your workload and processes so that you can spend less time managing your business and more time growing it.

online employee scheduler


While “simple and convenient” have been the buzzwords that you may have been hearing for workforce scheduling trends over the last several years, 2018 will no doubt be more about “smart” scheduling.

Scheduling software has already made it easier and more convenient for you to put together and distribute your staff schedules. The next logical step is to make the process smarter and more data-driven. In comes schedule forecasting as one of the next big trends to look out for this year.

The premise for forecasting is to make your entire scheduling process more data-driven in order to take the guesswork out of the process. This entails being able to integrate business data that is vital to your organization and the way you schedule for staff (call volume, foot traffic, point-of-sale, etc) and being able to create schedules against this information.

By utilizing key business drivers in the workforce scheduling process, you will be able to create more accurate schedules to avoid being under or overstaffed, which should lead to a decrease in costs and an increase in revenue.

Schedule forecasting is not only great for managers and business owners, it’s great for staff as well. How? For one, you’ll no longer have to schedule on-call employees who should be ready to work in case of an unprecedented need for workers.

Forecasting should allow you to avoid being surprised by client behavior and allow you to schedule the perfect amount of staff for every time of the day/day of the week so that no one needs to be on-call.

On top of that, schedule forecasting should make the need for having to alter schedules or add people to shifts last minute all but unnecessary, which your employees will no doubt appreciate as well.


Workforce scheduling this year will no doubt be more about customization and enabling both managers and employees to tailor every single detail that they can about the scheduling experience to their needs and preferences.

The scheduling software and tools that take the time to offer customization options are going to come out ahead in 2018. Think about it, every business is different, right? There might be core similarities within industries, but offering the same exact employee scheduling options for every retail company, for example, does not ensure a perfect fit for every single retail company that uses your product.

Not every company has the same time-off policies, which means it’s better to offer customizable leave types that businesses can create according to their specific needs. Some businesses might not use positions or roles as their key factors when it comes to assigning work schedules, they might want to schedule according to skills, for example.

This need for customization extends to employees as well. For example, some of your employees might not have smartphones, so you’ll have to inform them that they have new shifts via SMS or email. If you’re employing hourly staff, there’s a good chance that many of them are students or even working multiple jobs, which means that their availability might always be changing. Great scheduling solutions should enable employees to input their availability as well so that managers can know when they will and won’t be available to work.

Simply put, the more options you can give managers and employees to tailor their experiences to their specific needs, the happier your everyone will be in 2018 and beyond.


“Oh, there’s an app for that.”

You’ve probably heard someone say that for just about any topic or task that comes up in conversation. And it’s not far from the truth, especially when it comes to business tasks. There’s an app or tool for just about every business management process you can think of – from employee scheduling to HR management, payroll, point-of-sale, and the list goes on.

Being able to integrate all of your business and workforce management tools to work seamlessly together is going to be a big trend for 2018 and the future.

Businesses are going to demand applications that can be added to their ecosystem of tools and synced effortlessly among themselves. Business owners are going to demand interfaces that can work together and applications that can easily and consistently be integrated and used to compliment each other.

That’s something that businesses who offer employee scheduling tools are going to have on their minds this year. It’s not just about making your product great, it’s going to be about making sure that your product can easily be integrated with other complementary tools. To take the example of employee scheduling software, business owners are going to be more and more interested in tools that can be quickly and efficiently integrated with their HR and payroll solutions so that they can manage their rosters, schedules and wages within one, easy-to-use ecosystem of tools.

workforce management


Studies show that one of the biggest trends in business for 2018 will be doing everything possible to upskill and develop your best workers in order to retain them and allow them to grow with your company instead of looking for growth opportunities elsewhere.

One great example of upskilling comes from AT&T. The company created a program called the Workforce 2020 Initiative, which is a $1 billion program that aims to develop their employees’ skills in order to make sure that they don’t become redundant over time. So it’s not surprising that there are employee scheduling applications that including training and development tools within their solutions.

According to a survey by the Manpower Group, 40 percent of recruiters believe that there is a shortage of talent available. Businesses are beginning to realize that developing their employees in order to retain them is well worth the money that they are investing in the process because the cost of recruitment and onboarding regularly turns out to be much higher.

Furthermore, studies have shown that employee development and training programs really do work. According to an IBM study, 84 percent of high performing employees are the ones who are continuously receiving the training they require. That’s why including onboarding and training options along with your scheduling tools looks to be a very exciting trend that should further streamline the process of keeping your staff happy and constantly growing and developing their skills within your company.