6 Tips That Make Team Scheduling Easier
Posted on September 18, 2017 by Kristin Proctor
Creating and managing a team schedule is one of the hardest parts of managing a shift-based business. If you’re new to scheduling or just need some help on how to do it, here’s what you need to know.
1. Create Schedules Ahead of Time
When possible, create a schedule for your team as far in advance as possible. This will help in case team members need to switch shifts or if team members need to adjust their schedules. The best practice is to have a schedule in place at least two weeks in advance.
Because of needing to plan ahead, this also means that team members will need to let you know far in advance of any scheduled time off that they may need. It can be hard to keep track of all the days off that each team member requests. This is where scheduling softwares such as Crew App can come in handy.
With Crew, team members can send you one-on-one messages to let you know which days and times they’re not available. Having this information in advance will allow you to work with the team to make a schedule that’s fair.
2. Overlap Shifts
This is probably common knowledge, but as you lay out schedules, make sure there are overlaps between shifts. If you have a main lunch team and a main dinner team, for example, don’t have all the lunch team shifts ending at 4 p.m. and all the dinner shifts starting at 4 p.m.
This can cause issues because the dinner team might come in having no idea where they are on orders or what needs to be done next. It also ensures that employees are not taking their breaks at the same time. By staggering start and end times throughout the day, you can ensure that team members know what is going on and that there’s always coverage. This also helps in case you have employees who are late for their shifts.
3. Get Input From Your Employees
When you interview job candidates, you should know things like the times and days that they want to work, any conflicts when they can’t work, and how many hours or shifts they want to work in a week. Maybe they’re only available at night because they’re in school or maybe they need a full 40 hours because this will be their main source of income.
If you don’t already have this information, meet with each team member individually and get these important details. This will help you as you’re scheduling, so your team is happy and are glad to be at work instead of resenting you because you scheduled them during an inconvenient time.
4. Create Rules for How You Schedule
Before you even start laying out the schedule, consider what rules you or any other managers should follow for scheduling. These could include the following:
- How many people you need per shift and how many per role. For example, in a restaurant, that may include how many hosts, servers, bartenders, and bussers are needed in the front of house and also how many chefs, line cooks, expediters, and dishwashers are needed in the back of house. This will vary depending on how busy the restaurant is on any given day and time, so having stats available (like how many customers typically come in, whether there’s a delivery scheduled, etc.) will help you make these rules.
- Number of experienced workers versus inexperienced workers. You never want too many inexperienced workers on a shift at one time. They’ll likely have a lot of questions and having others whom they can ask will be important. You also may want more experienced workers to work certain days and times. Going back to the restaurant example, scheduling experienced workers during busy shifts like Friday and Saturday nights ensures that workers can handle the increased workload without damaging relationships with customers.
- Rules for holidays, sales, promotions, and events. When you look at the schedule, make sure you note any holidays or other events that may increase business. These might include Valentine’s Day or when there’s a local event that attracts a crowd that is within walking distance of your business. If you’re planning a promotion that includes free offerings or large discounts, ensure that you schedule more employees to work during these times.
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5. Consider Offering Incentives
If you are having issues with team members showing up late, consider offering an incentive for those who show up to work on time. This could be a gift card for those who arrive on time to every scheduled shift for a month.
Maybe each gift card is for a different store and amount, and employees who earn the incentive get to pull one from the hat. Put in a really high-priced card, such as one that has $500, along with other cards with amounts that vary from $5 to $50. This will get employees really excited about showing up on time.
6. Use Scheduling Software
When it comes to scheduling, having digital schedules available on their mobile devices will keep your team informed of when they’re working. Some software might include schedule templates, so if you use similar schedules each week, you don’t have to re-create the schedule from scratch every time. One powerful team app is Crew. Team members can download this app and stay connected with you and with each other. When there are issues with schedules, employees use the app to communicate with you directly about it to get it resolved.
Team members can also use the app to communicate with other team members to find their own coverage if there are last-minute scheduling conflicts. By having access to everyone’s schedule and being able to communicate with all available team members at once, team members can save time and prevent you from having to find coverage. Using text and phone calls, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to get someone to fill in for a no-show. This is bad for business and reflects poorly on you as a manager. With Crew, you know exactly who has seen the message and who hasn’t, so there’s no guessing, and you can find a fill-in quickly. 96% of managers using Crew say the app saves them around 4 hours a week on average.
Whatever strategies you use to create your schedules, consider using a team app that helps you communicate with team members about vacation days and the upcoming schedule. Download the free Crew app today to see how this tool can help ease the burden of team scheduling.