This workforce management blog has been updated from it’s original version on August 12 2016

Even the most seasoned business owner struggles to keep up with the ever-changing workforce. As new generations begin their careers, employee habits, work-ethic, and expectations  are constantly changing. Owners and managers are forced to adapt to new practices and learn new skills – no one can deny the fact that overseeing employees can be a challenge, and sometimes some of us need help with workforce management. Scheduling employees is a common concern for management, as it tends to be time-consuming and full of human-error. Follow the management tips below when starting to set up your business.

Below you will find a list of 35+ tips surrounding some of the critical first steps in managing employees. We will focus on the 5 major steps needed to set up a proper workforce management technique at your business.

1. How to Set Business Hours
2. How to Set Staffing Levels
3. What are Your Federal and State Labor Laws
4. What are Employee Ground Rules
5. How to Create Your First Employee Schedule

Always keep in mind that a large aspect of workforce management is remaining labor law compliant at all times.  Managing a workforce and labor breaches can become increasingly difficult with each hourly worker on your staff. Follow the workforce management tips below to avoid facing harsh financial and legal penalties.


Step 1: Set Business Hours

The first step of workforce management is to set business hours. The kind of services a business offers or products it sells, together with the competitive landscape, should be the main factors that determine the hours of operation. Ask yourself the following questions to get started with your business hours:

  1. What time do businesses open next door to you? Don’t compare apples to oranges – if you sell coffee and they sell alcohol, you won’t have similar hours.
  2. What time do your top 5 competitors open? Hint: Early bird gets the worm!
  3. Is your service only valuable at certain times of the day? For example: Restaurants
  4. How quickly can they purchase the good at your business? Buying a car won’t happen at midnight, but a trip to the grocery store might!
  5. Consider the weather in your region – should you have shorter hours in winter?

Step 2: Set Staffing Levels

The next step to take with managing your workforce should be to determine the number of employees needed at a given period, and to identify the shifts that may need or may not need part-timers to get by. Use historical data from another business in your region to make an educated guess on your busiest or slowest times.

  1. Print two calendars from Google Calendar:
    1. Monthly View
    2. Weekly View
  2. Use the Monthly View Calendar and take one month at a time and begin marking/highlighting (Management tip: make sure to color-code)- Holidays
    – Promotional Days
    – Local Events
    – Historically Busy Weeks or Days in Your Region/For Your Market
    – Weather Patterns
    – Seasonal Changes – Is your product or business more successful in one season than the next?
  3. Use the Weekly View Calendar to begin marking the busiest days of the week as well as the busiest hours of each day. Ask yourself these questions to get started:- When is rush hour, what are the traffic patterns in your area?
    – Do your customers work full-time jobs?
    – Can your customers stop by on a work break?
    – Are the majority of your customers in school, work, or stay-at-home?
    – Would people purchase your good before or after work?
  4. From here, determine how much money you can spend on labor each month.
    – Even better? Find out how much you want to spend on a daily basis.
    – Base staffing levels on both budget and expected foot traffic.
    – Do you sell your goods online?
    – If so, consider adjusting staffing levels on location vs. staff devoted to the website – does your web store sell more goods during a certain time of year?

Step 3: Learn Federal and State Labor Laws

Understanding the law is something all managers must be able to do prior to scheduling their employees. All federal and state laws pertaining to overtime pay, employee leave, breaks, work hours and age requirements must be respected and applied at all times.

Always consider the following:
– Laws for Minors
– Overtime
– Break Laws
– Part-time Laws
– Sick Time
– Vacation
– Maternity Leave

Step 4: Set Ground Rules for Employees

After establishing the hours of operation, focus on setting ground rules for your workforce. Define yourself and your expectations as a manager to better help your workforce succeed. Below are a few examples of ground rules that need to be set before starting the actual scheduling process. Employees should be made to read and understand all ground rules during the hiring process. Provide strict guidelines to ensure that a business will be adequately staffed at all times.

  1. Are employees allowed to swap shifts?
  2. Are there any rules regarding schedule changes?
  3. How long are lunch breaks supposed to lasts?
  4. How much flexibility are they allowed about choosing their hours?
  5. What are the consequences of missing shifts negligently?

Step 5: Create an Employee Schedule

After setting business hours, setting staffing levels, understanding the law, and setting ground rules, you can start the scheduling process – one of the most dreaded tasks associated with workforce management. Fortunately, most businesses invest in scheduling software to save money, time and worry.

  1. Rank your employees by strongest and make sure to always have dependable staff on duty.
  2. Don’t play favorites, especially with tips involved – but don’t let the new guy take the busiest shift. If you have to, make sure he has confident workers to help him out.
  3. Train your employees to handle different responsibilities. This way; you will always be in a position to handle unexpected circumstances.
  4. Do some employees perform better on weekdays vs. weekends?
  5. Do some employees perform better on days vs. nights?
    – who wants longer shifts?
    – who likes closing?
    – who prefers shorter shift?
    – who has school and needs every other week off?
    – who is working more than one job?
  7. Consider employees who are on holiday, sick leave, family leave, and other emergency situations that may have reduced your staff. Advice employees to submit their time-off request ahead of time.
  8. After you have created a schedule, double check it to ensure you have covered all business needs without under-staffing or over-staffing shifts.
  9. Create a back up schedule with a group of workers or part-timers who wouldn’t mind being summoned to work unexpectedly.

Fortunately, recent advances in workforce management technology have made scheduling easier than ever through web-based employee scheduling software. When used appropriately, employees scheduling software offer a wide range of benefits for businesses across all industries.

Some of these benefits include the following:

  1. Time-SavingsWith employee scheduling software, managers can reduce the time it takes to complete scheduling tasks by more than half. A task that normally takes 20 minutes with manual scheduling, such as finding a replacement, will not take more than 5 minutes with an online scheduling platform.
  2. Cost-SavingsFor most businesses, employee salaries east up a huge portion of their expenditure. Automated employee scheduling, through employee scheduling software, can reduce employee salaries through various ways, such as minimizing over-scheduling, getting rid of unnecessary overtime and increasing work performance by reducing stress and fatigue amongst employees.
  3. Reduction of Tardiness and Absenteeism

    Tardiness and absenteeism are the main reasons most business experience low productivity. This can somehow be attributed to fatigue and dissatisfaction due to poor workforce management. Lateness and no shows can be managed by giving employees more say in their work hours and employee scheduling software provides a great platform to do so through their mobile phones. When employees are assigned shifts they actually requested, they are less likely to find excuses to miss work.This is not all, workforce management and employee scheduling software, when integrated with payroll, will automatically calculate employee pay, including overtime, taxes, benefits, and so on. It can also be integrated with time clock software to track absences, tardiness, and hourly performance. Time and attendance tracking, just like employee scheduling, is a task that can trap managers and supervisors in their offices all day eating up hours that can be used to interact with employees and customers.

    All in all, with employee scheduling software, business owners and managers can expect to manage their workforce with little or no effort. There are various versions of scheduling software out there and choosing the right fit for your business can be a bit tricky but to cut a long story short, a good solution should be able to maximize profits, minimize payroll, and keep both employees and customers happy.