How to schedule staff to reduce costs

Darryl Bachmeier
Mar 20, 2019

Scheduling staff can be difficult and time consuming. There is just so much to think about. Labor laws, absences, vacation time and seniority to name a few. Employee wages can account for a majority of the costs to run a business so it is important to optimize it as best as possible.

It is important to get scheduling done right so it reduces stress for not only management but also the employees. Job satisfaction increases if you allow employees a variety of shifts to pick from and allow them to swap shifts with others. Schedules should be as consistent as possible and any changes should be communicated to the staff. Do not forget to ask for their input.

The requirements of the business is to ensure there is enough staff available to handle customers but at the same time not to be overstaffed and wasting money.

Thankfully, there is scheduling software available to help elevate some of the pain. They track businesses hours, employee preferences for hours as well as their skills set and seniority. They track employee request to changes whether its vacation, sick, leave of absence or shift swaps. Factoring all of this it will generate a schedule and make it available for management and staff.

Absenteeism happens so it is a good idea to have someone extra staff on call to fill these spots. Look for patterns that can be planned for. If your team has been working extra hard expect illness. Absenteeism can also increase if it is near holidays, big events or near weekend Mondays and Fridays.

When it comes to staff vacation have you can ask staff to submit vacation requests well in advance. This will allow management to see how year is shaping up. Staff can still change their minds but it blocks off those popular summer vacations. You can also limit the number of staff that can be off at any given time. If there is, something important to the business coming up you can have a blackout period where no vacation is allowed.

For management it is important to track sales and customer traffic. This will allow you know the busiest hours and seasonal sales periods where extra staff will be required. Also, need to ensure there are enough staff to handle customer inquiries as there is almost nothing more infuriating as a customer than when there is no one to ask a question.

Employees need to make aware of policies for vacations, illness and leave of absences. For vacation how many days’ notice are required prior to requesting time off? If an employee is late, whom do they call? If they are sick, are they required to call or is text message sufficient.

To help prevent issues in scheduling try stagger different shifts. Not everyone needs to start at 8am try 830, 845 and 900. Include part-time shifts to cover peak times. Also, think about when scheduling events like meetings, breaks and lunches.

Do not forget to think of scheduling from your employees point of view. You should try to accommodate the changing needs of your employees like life situations. Your staff are might be made up of part-time workers, students, people who have multiple jobs and single parents. They may have a religion that does not allow them to work certain days. They may have other obligations of their personal life like hobbies and team sports.

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