Staff scheduling is more difficult than you think. Managing time-off requests, working out availability, anticipating staff demand — it’s enough to give you a serious headache. What if there was an easier way to schedule your employees? Here are five employee scheduling ideas that you need to know about.

1. Spreadsheets

This is one of the oldest employee scheduling methods, and it’s one that many businesses still use today. Using work schedule templates on programs like Microsoft Excel will help you assign work shifts, manage absences and track employees.

Although there are more effective employee scheduling methods, spreadsheets will still do the job. You can enter the name of an employee on your document and schedule hours efficiently. You might need a calendar and calculator to help you, though!

2. Paper-based schedules

Yes, some companies still use paper-based schedules to assign working hours. This employee scheduling method has been used for centuries — it’s cheap, convenient and doesn’t require any software.

There are a number of drawbacks to paper-based schedules, however. It can take a long time to schedule workers with the pen and paper method — half of all employers say they spend at least two hours every week compiling schedules — and you could easily lose your schedule or make mistakes.

Paper-based schedules also make it difficult to comply with federal and local legislation. The proposed Seattle “secured scheduling” law, for example, will require employers in the retail and food and beverages industries to keep schedules for three years and notify employees of schedule changes two weeks in advance.

3. Social media

Some employers are using social media to schedule work shifts. Employees can post their availability and preferred shifts in a private Facebook group, for example. While this method provides more flexibility for employees — especially those who work from home — it can be difficult for employers to track work schedules effectively.

Social media can be beneficial when it comes to sharing work schedule information, however. Employers can post work shift changes on Facebook or Twitter, and employees can access this information on their smartphone or tablet.

4. Intranet

Intranet pages provide your staff with a communication hub. Use this platform to keep employees updated with the latest news and developments in your company. You can also use your intranet pages for work schedules. Employees can manage time-off requests and post their availability, while your HR team can post work schedules in one place.

5. Staff scheduling software

Employee scheduling software combines several planning tools that make it easier to assign shifts, manage time-off requests and post work schedule updates. Programs like Homebase eliminate many of the errors associated with conventional scheduling methods like spreadsheets and paper-based schedules.

Trusted by over 100,000 businesses, Homebase lets you compile a schedule in just minutes. You can share your schedule with your team, manage changes quickly and view information about your employees on one dashboard.

These five shift scheduling methods help you create schedules and shift patterns. While some employers still use traditional methods like pen and paper, new technologies like employee scheduling software have streamlined attendance tracking and workforce management.

Our work scheduling app makes it easy for you to build schedules and forecast labor costs. You can even manage shifts, time-off requests and schedule changes from your smartphone or tablet. Click here to learn more about Homebase’s free work scheduling software.