Guest post by Payman Taei

Gone are the days when you could still get by handling employee scheduling and related matters the old-fashioned when – on pen and paper. Especially during a time when more employees are working remotely than ever thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, complicated shift patterns spread out over large workforces have become the new norm.

employee scheduling softwareObviously, your number one priority is to create schedules that optimize employee resources for the benefit of your business. But you also need to take the needs of those employees into consideration as well. Whenever you’re forced to deal with scheduling conflicts, it’s so much more than just a minor inconvenience. It can easily impact the quality of the work that you’re able to do for your own clients, not to mention that it can also waste precious time when more important matters could be attended to.

Thankfully, all hope is not lost. Over the years employee scheduling software has become quite versatile and if you’re thinking about implementing this type of solution in your own organization, there are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind.

The Power of Employee Scheduling Software: Breaking Things Down

For the sake of argument, let’s go beyond the fact that employee scheduling software lets you take control of employee shifts in a way that pen and paper will never allow. Everyone knows that – but this type of software brings with it a number of other benefits that are just as important, if not more so.

Chief among them is the fact that employee scheduling software is flexible enough to allow you to quickly adapt to sudden shift changes – the kind that you’ll never be able to totally eliminate. If one person has to call off six hours before a shift, you won’t have to get on the phone to managers and supervisors to figure out who is available and who isn’t. You’ll be able to immediately see who is working and who isn’t, and get access to all relevant contact information, all without relying on strings of text messages, emails or phone calls along the way.

From the perspective of your employees, one of the major advantages of employee scheduling software is that it gives them a chance to easily request time off. Most modern day solutions have web portals that allow employees to log in and see their upcoming schedules from any computer or device with an active Internet connection. If they can request time off the exact same way, they won’t have to worry about whether their supervisor actually saw the request. Likewise, those supervisors will have a single place where they can keep track of all requests for time off so that they don’t accidentally make any mistakes and cause frustration or confusion.

Finally, from a human resources perspective, employee scheduling software lets you record accurate employee hours easier than ever before – which always lets you calculate the correct pay, too. By having a system in place that lets you easily verify the actual hours someone worked (rather than just the hours they were scheduling for), your payroll department (or related employees) can account for all variables that may not be immediately obvious. In a world of pen and paper (or worse, Excel spreadsheets) the risk of making mistakes based on incorrect information is just too great. This is a great way to eliminate one of the major pain points of any business and most organizational leaders will agree it’s a net positive.

Keys for Effective Scheduling

By far, the most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to employee scheduling involves the fact that you have to start with the people who matter most: your staff. Employee recognition is key to effective scheduling because what you’re really trying to do is go beyond simply filling shifts and furthering your business goals. You also need to know your employee’s preferences, their strengths and, most importantly their weaknesses. All of this insight gives you the ability to put together teams that really compliment and play off of one another, thus furthering the quality of the work you’re able to do across the board.

Likewise, you’ll be able to focus on creating shifts for your best employees that really play to those strengths that make them unique. Some people handle stress better than others, for example, and if you know there are periods that are particularly busy and the stakes are high you can schedule someone who is able to keep it together a bit better than someone else.

Not to say that the employee who can’t handle stress isn’t valuable – far from it. It’s just that you know you should schedule them during a time when they can use a bar graph maker like Visme (which I founded) on their own somewhere, or doing keyword research on a site like Respona, while someone else handles any outward-facing interactions with customers.

Another one of the most important tips towards effective scheduling involves your ability to communicate properly with your team. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend crafting what you think is the most objectively perfect schedule in the world – unless your employees know about it and agree to it, it won’t help you accomplish as much as you think it will.

Along the same lines, it’s important to use the same communication channel to get your schedules into the hands of your employees. Don’t send text messages to one person and emails to another. Keep everyone on the same page to avoid people who accidentally arrive late or who miss shifts entirely because they never really understood the schedule in the first place.

Finally, you need to understand that it is in your own best interest to process your schedules as quickly as possible. This is another area where employee scheduling software will be invaluable. Employees have lives outside the office, don’t forget – and those personal lives need planning, too. Getting your schedules ready as early as possible – at a bare minimum two weeks in advance – will give your employees everything they need to plan their work/life balance accordingly.

In the end, never forget that employee scheduling software isn’t JUST about furthering your business goals – although that is very much a part of it. It’s a great way to streamline one of the most menial and time-consuming tasks you’re responsible for, all so that you can focus up more of your attention on those matters that truly need you. It’s also a great way to make things more convenient for the employees at the heart of your business, which may very well be the most important benefit of all.

About the Author – Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.

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