Remember when creating an employee schedule was your favorite task? Of course not.

Between organizing availability, doling out lucrative shifts, and ensuring employees don’t burn out, creating a schedule can end up being a time-consuming activity. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make scheduling less of a dreaded chore, avoid manager and employee burnout, and keep your employees as happy (as reasonably possible).

1. Organizing Availability

One of the most difficult tasks of scheduling is organizing employee availability. Depending on the size of your organization, you’ll need to coordinate different types of employee availability. Both large and small companies experience their own challenges.

Smaller companies often need to work around the limited availability of a few employees. Larger companies need to offer enough shifts for a bigger variety of employees while juggling multiple availability schedules.

Solution: use scheduling software

Scheduling software can reduce manager and employee fatigue by removing some of the heaving lifting. You simply need to input employee availability into the software — or have your employees do it themselves–  and the software will create the bones of the schedule for you.

2. Divvying Out Shifts

At companies where your employees want to work more shifts than you have available, any shift could be considered a “desirable” shift. Not only do you need to create a fair schedule, but you also need to deal with employee letdown when some employees are inevitably disappointed in their shifts. In a restaurant, for example a Saturday night might be preferable for tipped staff than, say, a Tuesday night.

Solution: reward  great work with favorable shifts

The best way to deal with this is to reward positive behavior with favorable shifts. Employees who go out of their way to help fill undesirable shifts, fill in when other employees call out sick, offer excellent customer service, or assist in other ways will be rewarded with desirable shifts.

3. Scheduling Hard-to-Fill Shifts

Let’s face it: some shifts are more desirable than others. Employees rarely want the crack-of-dawn or late-at-night shifts. The least desirable shifts are the back-to-back late-at-night and early-in-the-morning ones.

Solution: anticipate busy times and reward employees who take on-call shifts

Try to schedule employees either early in the morning or late at night—never both. Encourage employees to take on-call shifts by rewarding them with more desirable shifts. Anticipate busy times by looking at previous years for forecasting purposes.

On Homebase, you can see estimated sales (and weather forecasts) while you’re building the schedule — based on prior weeks’ sales data — so you can be sure you’re always staffed at the right level.

4. Budgeting for Scheduled Shifts

Before you can even begin to start scheduling your employees, you need to determine your budget. In addition to doling out shifts to high-performing employees, you’ll need to allocate employees who make a lower hourly rate to fit your budget.

Solution: use scheduling software to manage budgets

Scheduling software can help you manage your budget by allowing you to schedule employees who make different hourly rates. With Homebase, it’s really easy to build a schedule to match a target labor-cost-as-a-percentage-of-sales ratio.

5. Avoiding Manager and Employee Burnout

One of the biggest problems managers face is burnout. It’s not uncommon to find yourself feeling as though you can’t manage your other tasks because you’re spending the majority of your time creating a schedule.

Employees can also feel the burn when you’re not using efficient scheduling techniques. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up scheduling some employees way more than others—or scheduling employees for back-to-back shifts.

Solution: use a combination of techniques to avoid burnout

Use a combination of scheduling techniques, coupled with scheduling software, to help you solve most of your scheduling problems. You might also want to cross-train your best employees. It’ll provide them with some career growth and variety while also making sure you don’t have to worry about being short staffed in a pinch.

Luckily, you don’t need to go over budget to purchase scheduling software. Homebase offers free shift scheduling software that can help you organize your employees’ availability, manage your budget, and minimize burnout.

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