Sometimes the traditional nine-to-five just isn’t cutting it. Shift work can allow businesses to expand the hours they are open in order to gain more business and increase profits. According to a 2004 study, almost 15 million Americans already work on shift schedules. While shifts are often determined by the demands of the industry rather than employee preferences, a good shift management system will incorporate the needs of both employee and employer.
Whether you’re looking to switch to a shift work system or simply looking for ways to streamline the one you have in place, here we’ll cover everything you need to know about shift management.
- Benefits of a Shift System
- Considerations for Implementing Shifts
- Tips for Improving Shift Management
- Tools to Manage Shifts
- Free Shift Management Software
Good employee shift management helps employers to take advantage of all the benefits of shift work. Keeping track of employee hours with an employee calendar or shift scheduler can save both time and headache. Here are some ways that using tools to manage shifts can work for you:
Shifts Support Employee Flexibility
These days, employees value flexibility. Working shifts may allow employees to better manage their time. If an employee has childcare responsibilities, they may want to work early shifts so that they can be available for their kids after school. University students might prefer an evening shift so that they can be in class in the mornings. Well-managed shifts can give employees with irregular schedules the ability to work full-time.
Shift Work May Lead to Company Growth
Having employees work in shifts means the business can stay open for longer and be well-staffed during peak hours. This means more time for productivity and can help growing businesses thrive.
Tailored Shifts Keep All Hours Covered
Shifts help businesses tailor staff numbers to their needs. For example, in one New York City bookstore, two employees come in for the opening shift at 10 am. Two more employees come in for each of the following three shifts: at 11 am, at 1 pm, and at 3 pm. This means that during the afternoon rush when the bookstore makes most of its sales for the day, there are eight employees on the floor ready to help customers. At 6 pm, the early-shift booksellers head home with the rest leaving at 7 pm and at 9 pm. In the last hour, when business is slow, there are only two employees left. This shift system maximizes efficiency and allows the bookstore to make the most of the peak hours while cutting costs when things are slow.
What shifts will support the business as it evolves? What works best for your employees? Creating a shift management system is a balancing act that requires careful thought.
When designing a shift schedule, employers must consider the shift timing. Will there be a fixed schedule, where employees come in at the same time every day? Or will an employee begin work at different hours on different days, but keep the same schedule week-to-week (i.e. working 10-6 Mondays and Wednesdays and 11-7 Tuesdays and Thursdays). Will employees need to rotate shifts? That might mean that employees may take the early shift for a few weeks and then the later shift for a few weeks. It’s important to remember that most employees prefer some kind of consistency. The key is to make the schedule as regular as possible even when the hours are irregular.
Clocking in & Out
How will employees clock in and out? If your business is still doing things the old-fashioned way with a punch-card system, it may be time for an update. With a shift management app, employees will be able to clock in and out directly from their phones. This is more convenient for employees and helps ensure that they are fairly paid for their time. The record automatically generated by the digital time clock can also help to protect employers from disputes down the line.
Backup Plan for Unexpected Absences
Always expect the unexpected! Smart employers managing shifts will make sure they have a plan for unplanned absences. Employees may need last-minute time-off for sick days, heavy traffic, etc. In addition to having guidelines about how employees can swap shifts and request time-off in advance, businesses also need plans for last-minute replacements. In industries where it is vital to always have a full staff, employers may ask employees to be on-call one day a week, ready to come in if something should come up. They can offer bonus pay to workers called in at the last minute.
If you already have a shift management system up and running, we have some tips to make it even better.
Avoid Rotating Shifts
As we already mentioned, most employees value schedule consistency. It makes it easier for them to plan the rest of their lives and is better for their circadian rhythms. If you can avoid rotating shifts, you should. If there is no way around it, try to make the rotations as gradual as possible. That means it’s a bad idea to switch someone from the morning shift to the night shift. Instead, move them from the morning shift to the afternoon shift. Tired workers aren’t effective. It will also help to have longer rotations so that employees spend a few weeks on one shift rather than a few days.
Use Visual Shift Management Tools for Scheduling
Having a visual representation of the schedule is helpful to both employees and employers. Managers can see any unnecessary overlaps or holes, and employees can see clearly how their week will look. Some professionals may opt for a downloadable shift schedule template to stay on top of employee hours. Others may choose to cut time and hassle with shift management software. Shift management software can help create a calendar everyone enjoys using. Unlike the pesky paper scheduled in the back room, it also updates automatically so that everyone is aware of changes.
Identify Trends & Plan for the Future
Whether using an employee schedule template or software, proactive managers can keep track of trends in the schedule and use the information to plan for the future. Got an employee who always comes in late to the morning shift? Maybe it’s time to move them to the afternoon or have a serious discussion. Do all your employees scramble to swap shifts during the holidays? Come up with a clear system for swaps and trades. Maybe even consider getting seasonal employees to avoid being short-staffed with the business boom! Take advantage of software to gain valuable insight into how your business works and how it can be improved.
Shift management software can provide an elegant solution to any of your shift-related problems. Simplify and streamline your shift management to maximize efficiency.
Easily Manage and Assign Employee Shifts
Make employee scheduling easy with a highly visual calendar as part of your shift management tool. Shifts can be repeated daily, weekly, or over a longer time period. The software will make it easy to spot holes and will also automatically notify managers of any scheduling conflicts. Employees can check their schedule at any time with a shift management application and make any necessary requests directly through the software.
Integration with Time Off Systems
Efficiently handle employee absences with automated time-off requests. Employers can manage who is on vacation, on sick or medical leave, and who is available for scheduling on one portal.
Run Reports to See Trends
With software, employers can take advantage of the data accumulated to do custom HR reporting. They can create visual representations of hours scheduled versus hours worked and other information.
If you are looking for a shift management solution, Factorial may be just what you are looking for. This shift management software is free with a subscription to Factorial’s comprehensive HR software. With shift management software, you will be able to balance shifts and have happier, more productive employees.
Written by Valerie Slaughter