6 scheduling mistakes you’re making and how to fix them

October 23, 2017

The following article was contributed by Carol Wood, People Operations Director at Homebase

As a business owner you’ve got a lot on your plate, but that doesn’t have to mean you are prone to scheduling mistakes. No matter the amount of employees you have on your payroll, scheduling is a big part of keeping them happy and reducing turnover. If training and retraining more than you have to isn’t your idea of fun, it’s time to stop making these scheduling mistakes once and for all.

1. Forgetting employee availability

You count on your employees to be there when you need them to keep your day-to-day operations moving seamlessly. But they also count on you to remember when they can’t work. If they tell you when they need to leave each day to pick up their kids or get to another job, you need to be able to remember. We’re all human and forgetting every once in awhile is inevitable, but that’s why getting technology involved is a top way to put an end to this scheduling mistake. Business owners have overflowing email inboxes and a desk that rebels against order, so entering employee availability into a system that will keep track of it all in one place is a major time saver. Whether this is an Excel spreadsheet or state of the art software is up to you, but either way, ensuring that you get scheduling right will set your business up for success.

2. Scheduling the wrong number of employees

An incorrect forecast can cost you. Having too many employees scheduled when customers are scarce will waste money and productivity when your employees run out of tasks. The opposite is also true; you don’t want there to be a line out the door because you underestimated the staff you’d need working that day. Keeping up with demand forecasts that are rooted in historical trends mixed with common sense will help you schedule correctly every time. And if you need help, we’ve got some tips for how to hire hourly employees.

3. Not having on-call employees

In the event that someone gets sick or a holiday rush hits your business early, you need to have employees you can call on. Whether these are regular employees whose availability you can look up quickly to determine their possible ability to come in on short notice, or they’re on-call employees who have flexible schedules, you need the ability to act quickly.

4. Making it difficult to swap shifts

There should be checks and balances to make sure your employees are swapping the correct shifts with coworkers in the corresponding roles. After all, approving a chef to get overtime to cover a cashier’s shift might not make sense. Speeding up the shift swapping process so that you will always be adequately staffed is a major way to avoid scheduling mistakes. If employees are within their allotted hours for the week and are switching to do a position they are trained for, then there should be no reason why the process shouldn’t be automated. Of course, a manager should make the last call on shift swaps, but the goal is to keep your business moving without additional emails, voicemails, or sticky notes cluttering your desk.

5. Not scheduling breaks

On an unusually busy day, you will be glad you have a break schedule. On those days, it’s easy for employees to work through breaks to handle the out of the ordinary demand. However, you want to make sure your employees have time to eat and recharge to keep them from burning out. It’s also pretty important to avoid legal issues that arise when employees don’t get the breaks they are entitled to. When you and your employees know when their breaks are, your day can run more smoothly.

6. Not rethinking schedules

A major scheduling mistake that could be taking a toll on your business is not rethinking schedules. Just because something worked well in the past doesn’t mean it will always serve your needs. Say a new hospital just opened down the street, your lunch hour business might have skyrocketed, meaning you need to add another person to that shift Monday through Friday. On the other hand, having employees start in intervals might be more cost effective than having them all start at once. Little changes to your schedule can have big impacts on your bottom line and productivity. Reconsidering your schedule periodically is a great way to maximize efficiency.

In scheduling, it always comes down to communication. And in 2017, employee scheduling requires businesses to keep the channels of communication open so they can collect availability, set schedules, and manage shift swaps in real time. Your market and business are changing at the speed of light, so keeping up and getting ahead require your process to run effortlessly in the background with minimal scheduling mistakes popping up. With the help of these six tips, you can have a few less things to worry about.

If you want to put scheduling mistakes behind you and boost retention, sign up for Homebase for free here.

Carol is People Operations Director at Homebase. With free online tools and mobile apps for managers and employees, Homebase eliminates the paperwork and headaches of schedulingpayroll, and team communication for local business.

At Homebase, Carol focuses on providing thought leadership, tips and tricks, and scalable HR solutions for the 50,000 businesses that Homebase serves. Prior to Homebase, Carol focused on helping small and medium businesses navigate the tricky waters of human resources, working with companies across the retail, food service, oil and gas, and healthcare industries through her roles as HR Director at Fuddruckers and Achilles Group, a Houston Based HR consulting firm. In her free time, Carol enjoys spending time with her son Dayton, and watching Alabama football (RTR).

[image: My desk by Julian Burgess on flickr]

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