Shift Bidding: How It Works and Best Practices for 2024

Shift bidding is an employee-first approach to scheduling your business. It can empower your team, improve productivity, and even better: save you money. When done correctly, shift bidding allows you to efficiently assign shifts while maintaining fairness and giving your employees a voice. 

Read on to learn about shift bidding—the pros and cons, best practices, and if it’s the right scheduling practice for your business.

What is shift bidding?

Shift bidding is a scheduling technique that allows your employees to show you which shifts they’re interested in working. Shift bidding enables you to control the schedule and leave space for employees to share their shift preferences.

How does shift bidding work?

The shifting bidding process starts with whoever is responsible for scheduling in your workplace. The first step involves the employer creating a shift pool with open days, times, and positions.

Once your shift pool is established, the bidding period starts. During this period, employees can place their bids for shifts—a bid on a shift is an employee saying, “I can work this shift.”

When the bidding period ends, employers review the bids and decide who will work which shifts. Employers should consider factors like:

  • Employee seniority
  • Skill level
  • Previous shift assignments
  • Wages

In the case of a shift that two or more employees request, consider factors like:

  • Who put the bid in first
  • Potential double booking with other shifts they’ve bid on
  • Possibility of overtime pay

After accepting all bids and finalizing the schedule, the employer should publish it and ensure all employees have access to it. 

Who can use shift bidding?

While any business can choose to use shift bidding, some companies can benefit from this system:

  • Restaurants and hospitality businesses
  • Retail businesses
  • Hospitals and healthcare facilities
  • Educational institutions
  • Call centers
  • Security 
  • Cleaning services

If your business runs on a schedule with multiple shifts per day, this type of scheduling may work for you, giving your employees autonomy, flexibility, and many more benefits.

The benefits of shift bidding for employers

While shift bidding is loved by a lot of employees, it also has some great benefits for employers.

Improve employee engagement and retention

Who doesn’t like having a bit of control over their time? By switching to shift bidding, you give your employees that control, which helps them feel empowered in the workplace. This can help employees become more proactive and invested in their jobs. Employees who feel engaged in their work are more likely to stay with your company, and high retention greats are better for business overall.

Cut down on labor costs

Shift bidding is an effective way to cut down on your labor costs. You can reduce your need for expensive overtime shifts by pairing employees preferences with available shifts. 

When you use shift bidding, fill each shift with employees whose skill set fits that shift. You can avoid overstaffing and save on labor costs by only employing the right number of employees per shift.

Increased productivity

Employees who are happy in their jobs are more likely to deliver excellent work and be more productive throughout their shifts. Having a scheduling system that your team likes creates a positive work environment, which leads to increased productivity and an overall improvement in work performance. 

Stay compliant with labor regulations 

Shift bidding can help you stay compliant with local, state, and federal labor laws and regulations. Maintaining fair scheduling shows your employees you’re committed to ethical employment practices. The best way to do this? Make sure you’re using a scheduling app that integrates compliancy regulations and sends you notifications so you’re following the rules.

The benefits of shift bidding for employees

We love a way of scheduling that offers benefits and perks to employees. This method gives them greater control over their schedules, giving them greater control over their time. Not only that, but it can create a positive work environment and a more rewarding work experience. 

More flexibility

Shift bidding gives employees greater flexibility over their schedules. They can ask for shifts that align with their commitments, improving their work-life balance. Flexibility in scheduling lets employees plan their lives and reduce the stress of balancing their personal and professional lives.  

Flexibility in scheduling is also a big factor in attracting and retaining top talent. A survey conducted by the International Workplace Group found that 83% of workers would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexibility.  

More opportunities for skills development 

Because shift bidding matches employees with shifts best suited to their abilities, this opens up opportunities to further develop their skills. It also gives employees transparency into what shifts may be available if they improve their skills in other areas. This can help them invest in their own career growth and contribute to your business in new and exciting ways.

More employee engagement 

As mentioned above, shift bidding can help employees feel more invested in their work. By giving them autonomy and ownership over their schedules, they’ll develop ownership and autonomy in their roles at work. This leads to higher levels of employee happiness and engagement, and hey, who doesn’t love that?

The risks of shift bidding in the workplace

There are a lot of benefits that make shift bidding worthwhile. Of course, as with most things, there are also potential downsides. These risks can impact the success of shift bidding in your workplace, so they should be carefully considered. 

  • Competition: Shift bidding can cause competition among employees for desirable shifts. This competition can cause tension between employees, resulting in a toxic workplace if it’s not managed.
  • Impact on employee relationships: Because employees may choose the same shifts repeatedly, there may be limits to who is interacting with whom. This could ultimately limit communication within the workplace because employees don’t have the opportunity to interact with each other.
  • Favoritism: Certain employees may be seen to get special treatment due to their relationship with employers and managers. This can lead to feelings of resentment from other employees. It’s important to note that favoritism can happen with any scheduling system.

Get the ultimate scheduling app

Look no further than Homebase. Whether you’re allowing shift bidding, shift swaps, or have an uncomplicated set schedule (lucky you!), Homebase can help keep your team’s scheduling and finances on track. Get started for free today.

Shift bidding FAQs

What's the difference between shift bidding and self scheduling?

Shift bidding is when employees bid to show interest in working a shift, and the employer uses the bids to create a schedule. Self scheduling is when employees can claim shifts without any input from their employer directly.

Can you allow shift swapping while doing shift bidding?

Yes, you can have shift swapping in your workplace while also having shift bidding. For best practices to be maintained, it’s best to put the newly open shifts back up for bids—this avoids any claims of favoritism.

What are the best tools to help implement shift bidding in your business?

The best tool to help your business implement shift bidding is a scheduling tool with a built-in communication app. Homebase has everything you need to streamline your shift bidding and scheduling process. 

Related posts

8 Time Management Statistics Every Business Should Know in 2024

Time management—it’s something that we hear all the time. And if we’re being honest, it’s something we could all probably…

Read article

Time Logs: Definition, Benefits, and Steps to Keep One in Your Business

It can be wasted, spent, lost, even killed, but never stopped. Time is a priceless, limited resource and, like other…

Read article

Shift Swapping: Make It Easy On Your Small Business (and Your Employees)

Scheduling your employees can cause headaches—even on a good day. Taking a bunch of employees’ differing schedules and fitting them…

Read article

Streamlining Your Small Business With Job Evaluation

As a small business owner, you want to keep your employees happy so they can perform at their peak and…

Read article

7 Ways to Create an Effective Seasonal Hiring Strategy for Your Small Business

Discover key insights in our guide on seasonal hiring for small businesses. Learn to streamline recruitment, onboard efficiently, and set clear terms, transforming seasonal staff into a valuable asset for your business.

Read article

How to Cultivate an Empowered Team to Drive Performance in Small Businesses

Explore 8 powerful strategies to empower your small business team, driving innovation and accelerating business growth. From fostering accountability to embracing continuous learning, these tactics will transform your team’s performance

Read article
Effortlessly schedule and track your team's time with Homebase.
Try our basic plan free, forever.
Try Homebase for free