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Open shifts: Solutions for the common challenge

  • Open shifts are upcoming shifts that have not been assigned to an employee due to a confusion of availability. 
  • Organizing availability and reducing employee burnout make creating a schedule a challenge. 
  • Homebase scheduling helps you simplify open shift management while keeping an eye on your costs.
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What is an open shift?

An open shift is a scheduled shift that is not assigned to an employee. Managers create an open shift on their employee schedule template with a shift app like Homebase, and then qualified employees can request to pick up the shift. If using other open shift apps, employees might be in the practice of bidding on the shift. From there, the manager would approve or deny the request. 

Open shifts typically occur when a manager or business owner is planning the schedule and finds that they don’t have a specific employee who is available to work the shift. This is why it’s important to organize the availability of your team, or even streamline your staff scheduling process. 

With the Homebase schedule planner mobile app, it’s much easier to avoid open shifts with weekly schedule templates that allow you to create shift policies predictive scheduling, auto scheduling, rotating schedules, and more. This way open shifts, shift swapping, and shift trades aren’t as common because everyone is comfortable with their normal work schedule routine. 

Below you’ll find more solutions Homebase offers that can help you avoid open shifts and streamline your scheduling process.  

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Organize availability and divvy out shifts

One of the most difficult tasks of scheduling is organizing employee availability. Depending on the size of your team, 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.

The solution to organizing your employee availability is to let Homebase handle it for you. Scheduling software like Homebase can reduce manager and employee fatigue by removing some of the heavy lifting. You or your team can input employee availability into Homebase, and we’ll start creating the schedule for you.

When you have a lot of employees, any shift can be considered a “desirable” shift. The challenge is not only creating a fair schedule. You also need to deal with employees being disappointed with their shifts. In a restaurant, for example, open shifts on Saturday night might be preferable for tipped staff than those on Tuesday night.

The best way to deal with this is to reward positive behavior with favorable shifts. Give your desirable shifts to employees who help fill unwanted shifts, fill in when needed, or offer excellent customer service. Use Homebase to reward great work with favorable shifts. Get started for free today! 

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Hard-to-fill shifts and budgeting

Let’s face it: some shifts are more desirable than others. No one wants to handle night-shift scheduling. Plus employees rarely want the crack-of-dawn or late-at-night shifts. The least desirable shifts are the back-to-back late night and early morning shifts.

Luckily, Homebase can help. Use Homebase to anticipate busy times and reward employees who take on-call shifts or open shifts. 

Before you can even begin to start scheduling your employees, you need to determine your budget. The challenge is not just doling out shifts to top employees. You also have to schedule employees who make a lower hourly rate to fit your budget. The solution to this is another great feature that Homebase offers. You can use Homebase to manage your budget and track your labor costs.

Homebase lets you see estimated sales forecasts while making the schedule so you’re always staffed at the right level. 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.

Homebase 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 costs-to-sales ratio.

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Avoiding manager and employee burnout

One of the biggest problems managers face is burnout. Managers can spend the majority of their time creating a schedule, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Employees can also feel the burn when you’re not using efficient scheduling techniques. And keeping shift workers engaged has become an even bigger challenge in recent years. Without knowing, you can create a work schedule that has some employees always working nights and some just the day shift.

The solution is to use a combination of techniques to avoid burnout and fill open shifts. Use a combination of scheduling techniques, coupled with Homebase, to help you solve most of your scheduling problems. 

You might also want to cross-train your best employees. This will provide career growth and variety while also making sure you’re not short-staffed. Also, you can use our free team communication app to make sure your employees are engaged and ready to work.

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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