8 Employee Scheduling Mistakes That Hurt Your Business

by Brandon Hulme, 5 minutes read
HOME blog employee scheduling mistakes that hurt your business

Employee scheduling is a science. As a manager, you’re assigning staff to shifts based on their availability, preferences, and skill level. On top of considering your employees, you have to proactively account for last-minute changes and protect your bottom line.

How can you ensure that your business is fully staffed so you don’t lose any customers? It’s complicated.

But you don’t have to spend hours every week stressing about employee scheduling. Get ahead of common employee scheduling mistakes with tools and strategies that simplify your work life. With a little experimentation, you can create efficient schedules that save time — and money.

1. Too much time scheduling

Even the most seasoned professionals make mistakes. As a manager, you’re preoccupied with the backend operations of your business like ordering supplies, handling escalations, and keeping your employees engaged. Because your job pulls you in every direction, scheduling errors are bound to happen. But are you wasting too much time on scheduling?

You might forget to schedule an employee for a shift or double schedule two employees for the same shift. These errors will frustrate your staff or force them to work without proper support. Take the time to review your schedules and get in the habit of making them at the same time every few weeks. If you’re using Excel, consider upgrading to a reliable scheduling tool that will call out errors and store your data in one convenient place.

2. Unfair hours and distribution

If all of your shifts form a pizza, then your staff should be getting an equal slice of the pie. Don’t make the mistake of showing favoritism by giving some employees more lucrative shifts. It makes sense to give more experienced employees demanding shifts, but remember to expose all of your staff to different seasons and hours.

Rotating shifts is a great way to build employee confidence and abilities. Newer team members should be given the opportunity to shine during busier shifts as a step in their career development. By spreading your talent around, you’ll train your teams up faster and create a culture of fairness. They’ll get to work with different teammates and build stronger bonds as well.

3. Not optimizing labor cost

Scheduling within a budget is a balancing act. Don’t forget that employees make overtime and get paid at different rates. If you’re only tracking your budgets in a spreadsheet, you’re likely wasting time with dizzying numbers.

With a modern scheduling tool, you could automatically track salaries, overtime rates, and local ordinances when you schedule your team. You could even reduce potential overtime by forecasting peak periods of customer demand so you could staff accordingly. Smart scheduling tools could help keep your budget in check and your bottom line healthy.

4. Lack of visibility

In shift-based businesses, your success depends on teams showing up and providing proper coverage. If shifts are unattended, customers get frustrated as your team gets stretched beyond their limit. Clear communication and visibility is critical to scheduling because your team needs to know who they’re working with and when. How efficiently can your team access all of this information?

Texting isn’t always reliable, emails get ignored, and printed schedules or changes get lost in the shuffle.

Instead, choose a centralized hub for employees to send messages and receive team updates. They’ll receive notifications in real-time and access their team contacts in one convenient place. A communication tool eliminates the guesswork for staff to get their message across and receive the updates they need.

5. Complicated shift swapping

Life happens, and your staff will inevitably miss work. How can they swap shifts with a colleague? If they need to process paperwork or jump between different channels like phone and email, their employee experience suffers. You can save your staff time and energy by using a mobile app that lets them swap shifts on the fly. A mobile-based process helps them plan around their priorities and reduces anxiety around communicating their absence.

You or your managers don’t need to be caught in the middle every time staff want to trade shifts. Give them the freedom to work it out amongst themselves — while ensuring each swap is suitable. With a modern scheduling tool, employees are empowered to own their work and be more productive where it counts.

6. Procrastination

The best schedules give your employees enough time to plan around their personal lives. Nothing is worse than having to miss a birthday party because you’re suddenly scheduled for work. Last-minute scheduling is stressful for you and your employees and can easily be avoided.

Releasing your schedules late could also cost you more than just a headache. If your business is subject to predictive scheduling legislation, this mistake can be very costly. Some states require employers in the retail, fast food, and hospitality industry to give ample notice for their schedules. With a modern scheduling tool, you can plan ahead to knock out your weekly task within minutes.

7. Not playing to your team’s strengths

Remember that your employees have different skills and strengths. To be successful, your team needs diverse experiences and abilities to support a wide range of customer needs. For example, your customers will become frustrated if your bar is staffed with employees who don’t have adequate bartending skills. At the same time, there should be staff who can work a POS machine, service equipment, and wait on tables. You’ll need to staff every shift with a versatile, complementary team.

Keeping track of your team's skills is highly subjective. Make your job easier by assigning a value system to each employee and use training tags. With a modern scheduling tool, you can store employee skill levels and create schedules accordingly. This way, your customers can enjoy an efficiently managed bar while your team leverages their best abilities.

8. Forgetting about employees’ preferences

Your staff are the lifeline of your business. To best serve your customers, they should be respected and valued. Remember to take their requests for certain shifts into consideration. Some team members may have family obligations during the middle of the week. Others might be attending school part-time and unable to work once finals come around. Naturally, some are night owls while others prefer the day.

A formal leave process will help you manage time off. You can keep all requests in one place, manage expectations, and encourage work-life balance. By taking employees’ personal preferences and obligations into account, you’ll notice higher team engagement.

Don’t worry about it

Schedules create complicated work, but they don’t have to.

In the end, you’re looking for ways to eliminate manual labor, roundabout communications, and restrictions on employees. With a modern scheduling tool, you can save both time and money and let the software do all the work. Simplify your scheduling and sign up for a free trial of Deputy.