3 Ways to Make Shift Swapping Easier

by Katie Sawyer, 3 minutes read
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It’s almost a rite of passage that all managers go through and nobody wants. Getting that phone call early in the morning (or maybe just before a shift) that you employee can’t make it in. You’re stuck tracking down a replacement and then looking at your marked up schedule and timesheet to make sure that replacement is eligible to work.=

The pain of managing shift swap requests is a part of the past. Now you have technology on your side. Approving and re-scheduling swapped shifts has never been easier. You can make this work without overcomplicating things on your end.

Read on for three ways to make shift swapping easier — and make your employees happier along the way.

1. Use a shift swapping application

It’s Saturday, the busiest day at your restaurant, and one of your servers called in sick. You were just about to call your vendor to order a new supply of napkins but now you have to find a replacement. And when you’re not sure who wants to come in for additional hours, it takes longer than it should.

To speed things up, put the power into the hands of your staff. Use a workforce management system that includes a shift swap feature so your employees can offer up shifts — and other employees can accept them.

Here are a few tips to using a shift swapping application.

  • Note required skills. Use tags so staff can note what skills are required for the shift and qualified employees can pick up the shift.
  • Push notifications. Enable push notifications so you and your staff know when shifts open up and are filled.
  • Manager approval. Only allow swaps that you, as the manager, approve.

2. Establish your shift swapping policy

Your staff should not have any confusion over their shift swapping options. Your best bet is to introduce a shift swapping policy. Administer rules and protocols to follow that apply for everyone.

Managers struggle with managing shift switches for many reasons. One reason is because of how much each person differs in experience and skill. They might not be able to get the output they desire from the fill-in employee. Here are some rules to consider for your shift swapping policy.

  • Same experience level. If the workload is demanding, the replacement should be someone with similar experience. A “grading system” could help.
  • State a deadline. You don’t want morale to drop among your managers. Give them some time to plan for the roster change by closing the swap period a certain time before the shift ends.
  • Be aware of overtime. You’ll likely want to keep workers from going into overtime hours if possible. If so, set parameters in your workforce management system to alert you if someone is going to hit overtime hours.

3. Customize a live schedule

When you only have a manual spreadsheet for tracking schedules, shift swapping gets tedious. Ever tried tracking changes that you get from text messages, voice mails, and sticky notes? It’s a nightmare.

Use the right tools that let you create — and update — schedules easily. Your workforce management system should let you:

  • Create new shift structures instantly. To help you, look for tools that have drag and drop features and allow you to build custom schedule templates.
  • Schedule employees according to their skills and qualifications. Whether it’s first aid, food preparation, or heavy machinery, track staff skillsets and schedule accordingly.
  • Make it mobile. You’re on the go, so look for technology that lets you create schedules, manage shift swaps, and find replacements from any device.

The new world of shift swapping isn’t so bad

You no longer have to fear the complications that come with handling shift swap requests. You can give your employees the opportunity to swap out when something comes up and they need to get out of work. And bonus? It can improve employee morale.

Boost your team’s efficiency when you sign up for a free trial of Deputy. See exactly how easy your business can manage shift swapping requests.