How to make a schedule for employees

Editorial Team

5 min read
Two café workers looking at tablet

Are you curious about how to make an employee schedule that doesn’t take hours to plan and meets the needs of all your staff? Before scheduling employees for shifts, use this guide to help understand different work schedules, plus learn some tips to help you schedule the right people in the right place each day.

Different types of work schedules

Depending on your business’s needs, a certain schedule type might work best for you. Or, maybe you have employees that fall into several different scheduling types depending on their availability.

Full-time schedules

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define full-time work. This is generally determined by the employer, but depending on the state you operate in, the standard is typically set at a minimum of 32-40 hours per week, or at least 130 hours per month. Those hours might be spread evenly over a traditional five-day work week or assigned according to a non-traditional schedule, such as four 10-hour days.

Part-time schedules

Part-time schedules are those that don’t meet the standard for full-time work. Part-time work is often more flexible for those who have kids, school, or other obligations, but it may also mean a reduction in benefits and schedule stability.

Fixed schedules

A fixed schedule is one that stays the same from week to week. A traditional 9-5, Monday through Friday job is a great example of this, but fixed schedules can be made up of any days and hours as long as those days and hours don’t change.

Flexible schedules

Employees with flexible schedules must work a contracted number of hours, but those hours can be worked however the employee sees fit. Some employers even allow team members with flexible schedules to choose where they work, allowing for hybrid employment that extends beyond the office.

Rotating shift schedules

rotating schedule sees employees working different hours and/or shifts throughout a given time period. Staff members may work mornings one week or month and then nights the next. Rotating schedules may focus on equal coverage for weekends, too, ensuring the same people don’t always have to work Saturdays and Sundays.

Split-shift schedules

Just as the name suggests, split-shift schedules divide an employee’s shift in two. They’ll work a partial shift, clock out for a break, then clock back in to finish the second part of the assigned shift — think servers and bartenders working the lunch rush, clocking out, then coming back for dinner.

Seasonal schedules

Seasonal schedules allow businesses to adjust labor according to when the company and/or industry is busiest. Workers may sign up for part- or full-time schedules, and employment may last for several months (such as lifeguarding during the summer) or for a few weeks leading up to a busy holiday.

How to effectively schedule employees

Use these scheduling tips for managers to help maximize your work force and minimize labor-related issues.

Plan/prepare for schedule needs

Use reports generated by your POS system to understand business fluctuations and plan your labor accordingly. If you’re historically busier on weekends, or find you experience a surge around certain festivals, schedule ahead so that you’re staffed accordingly.

Determine staff availability/preferences

Staffing isn’t just about fulfilling the business’s needs. Staff satisfaction and investment also hinge on adhering to set availability and shift preferences as much as possible. You can use a scheduling app to allow employees to choose which days and shifts they work and update availability as it changes.

Determine employees with extra availability

Having a list of employees with open or extra availability can come in handy when you need to fill in schedule gaps or find last-minute coverage for employees who call out. It’s a win-win situation; staff members can make extra money and you and your team aren’t left in the lurch.

Release planned schedules early

Try to publish schedules a week or two in advance to allow employees time to plan around their assigned shifts. This also gives your team leeway if they need to ask for changes.

Prepare for disruptions/replacements

Everything from car issues to sick kids can mean a late start or even a no-show. Flexible scheduling can help eliminate much of the stress related to these problems, but if that isn’t possible, have a system in place to cover absences.

Provide access and transparency

Schedules shouldn’t be a secret, and swapping shifts shouldn’t be a major ordeal. Set some ground rules (24-hour notice, shift swaps need to be approved by a manager, etc.), then empower employees to access and adjust the schedule without running every tweak past supervisors.

Review schedules on a regular basis

Schedules shouldn’t be static. Review your templated schedule regularly to see how you can make things more efficient. This is especially important if you’re changing hours, launching a promotion, or searching for ways to improve customer satisfaction.

Use employee management software

Incorporate employee management software into your day-to-day operations and enjoy everything from performance reports that show which employees are selling best to assistance posting job listings. It’s a phenomenal way to streamline your workload and increase efficiency, too.

Effective scheduling of employees can help you take your business to the next level, protecting profits while boosting employee satisfaction. For more ways Clover can help you run your business more efficiently, reach out to a Clover Business Consultant today.


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