Employee Scheduling | 9 mins read

Guide to Employee Scheduling

guide to employee scheduling
Michelle Jaco

By Michelle Jaco

Whether in the market to upgrade or interested in gaining insight into the full capabilities of scheduling software, here is everything you need to know about employee scheduling.

Managing your business's workforce whether it small or grand isn't easy, namely when it comes to getting the timing of employee scheduling right.

Of all the resources to monitor, time can prove to be the most complex and challenging to take command of in any industry. However, when executed properly, a well-crafted work schedule allows for a boost in productivity and profitability. In order to achieve this, the use of best practices and scheduling software is key.

Through the technological landscapes, employee scheduling software provides, it's now easier to create and track your employees' schedules, which is cost-effective and ultimately better for your brand.

Whether in the market to upgrade scheduling applications or interested in gaining insight into the full capabilities of scheduling software, here is a detailed brief of everything you need to know when it comes to employee scheduling.

What is Employee Scheduling Software?

Employee scheduling software goes beyond the assistance of schedule creation.

In its most standard form, it is an application that lets managers create schedules and share those schedules with employees.

However, most software solutions offer capabilities that exceed the use of spreadsheets or the dated pen and paper methods.

Features often available in employee scheduling software solutions include-

Create and Share Schedules - The software allows managers to create schedules and share them with employees across multiple channels, like email, mobile push notifications, and through the hardware itself.

Create Shift Templates Managers can create reusable shift templates to save time when creating weekly schedules, or they can copy and paste relevant schedules form previous weeks.

Time-off Request Management Employees can use the tool to request time off, and these requests can be accepted or rejected by managers. If the time-off is accepted, it will automatically be recorded in the tool and reflected in employee availability.

Labor Law Reminders This feature helps managers stay compliant with the latest labor laws by alerting them if they are in breach of a regulation. This allows management to take the necessary steps to amend any questionable situation.

Shift Swap Requests Allow staff to take control of shift swaps by processing requests through the app. The employee looking to swap shifts can request to swap with another employee who can accept or reject the change. This makes life easier for the manager as their only job is to approve the change once the employees have arranged the swap.

Budgeting Tools Set a daily, weekly, or monthly labor budget and keep track of how close you are to it from within the app. If you notice you are going over, you can take steps to reduce spend.

Staffing Alerts Alerts tell you if the tool thinks a shift is under or overstaffed. This lets you add or remove employees from the shifts.

Communication Tools Some scheduling tools contain communication features so managers can update their team about news related to the business.

Knowing the Laws

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When scheduling, you need to do so in a way that complies with the labor laws in your area. These laws can vary on a national, state, or even city level. Here are some critical factors to be aware of.

Minimum Wage - The minimum hourly wage will affect how much you spend on labor, and that hourly rate will vary from region to region. And in some cases, specific types of work, like jobs where workers receive tips, can be paid at a rate that is lower than the minimum wage.

Predictable Scheduling - Predictable scheduling laws are those that aim to make work more reliable for employees. There are several different predictable scheduling requirements and the exact ones you have to adhere to will depend on the state you are based in. Some things these laws may require you to do are providing work schedules to employees in advance (often two weeks), paying for on-call shifts and shift changes, and providing new hires with good faith estimates about the shifts you will give them.

Breaks - Some states require employers to provide employees who work over a certain number of hours with a meal break. You may also be required to provide shorter rest breaks. If you hire people under 18 years old, you may have to follow different rules for these employees.

Overtime - The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay overtime at a rate of 1.5 times the regular pay for any hours worked over a 40-hour limit.

Days of Rest - Some states have laws that ensure employees receive at least one 24-hour period of rest each week. On some occasions, this can be averaged over a monthlong period. Different sectors may also have different laws.

Annual Leave - No state or federal laws require employers to provide paid or unpaid vacation time. Employers must provide unpaid sick leave in some situations according to federal law. Some states and localities have laws in place that require employers to provide paid sick leave.

How to Choose the Right Scheduling Software

With all the options out there, choosing an employee scheduling software isn't easy. However, there are questions you should ask yourself when narrowing down your options.

What Features Do You Need?
Employee scheduling software has many features and benefits. When choosing software, really think about which features you and your team need.

For example, if you want help adhering to labor laws, a software solution with a labor law reminder could be a good idea. Or if you want to allow your team to request time off or shift swaps within the app, then think about looking for a tool that provides these functions.


Does the Software Integrate with Other Tools?
If you already use tools for things like POS and payroll, it makes sense to choose scheduling software that will integrate with these tools.

If you don't already use other tools, think about whether you are likely to in the future as your business grows.

How Many Employees Does Your Business Have?
While one solution is suitable for one employer, another may be more suitable for another. It all comes down to numbers and the number of employees on staff.

Some software is more equipped for larger enterprises (approximately 200 or more locations) and utilized to the fullest degree, whereas smaller mom and pop operations may not require all the bells and whistles.

Is Your Business Likely to Grow?
If you expect your business to grow, you should ensure your scheduling software could grow with you. With this thinking, you will reduce the chances of having to change software providers later down the line. Consider whether the tool has support for more employees, as well as if it supports multiple locations.

How Much Can You Afford to Spend?
This is an important point for many businesses and quite possibly the most obvious question, however, many struggle to truly determine if the cost is worth the spend.

Make sure the cost of the software fits within your budget and will not be nullified by the price of the tool.

Does the Solution Offer Customer Support?
When choosing a software provider, you want to know that you will not be left to fend for yourself should anything go awry, like technical service issues. Consider the level of support you are likely to need.

Benefits of Employee Scheduling Software

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Scheduling software has several benefits. The exact ones you get will depend on the features of the software you choose. These benefits include-

Budget Visibility Employee scheduling software provides a clear overview of your weekly labor costs. This makes it easier for you to see how much you are going to spend on labor and if you are on course to spend more than the allotted amount adjust your schedule.

It can also help you save money by showing where you may be overstaffed.

Save Time When Creating Schedules Scheduling software saves time by allowing you to create templates or copy previous weeks' schedules and then making edits where needed.

All the information you need to quickly create a schedule is available within the app for example, which employees are available or what your budget is for that particular shift.

If you choose a tool with an app, you can make or adjust schedules on the go from your phone.

Reduce Scheduling Mistakes If you manually create schedules, you run the risk of making errors; in fact, you are more prone to doing so.

Employee scheduling software prevents this from happening by alerting you if you are overstaffed or understaffed on a particular day.

The software also allows you to track employee availability, so an individual cannot be scheduled to work during a shift that they did not previously agree to.

Check the Schedule Anywhere If you choose a cloud-based solution, your schedule will be available anytime and essentially from anywhere. By downloading the app to a mobile device, your employees can view their schedules while on the go, or they can access it from a desktop.

Real-time updates ensure the schedule will be the same wherever you access it.

Adhere to Employee Availability Employee scheduling software tracks vacation and time-off requests so you always make schedules based on who is available at the time.

Increased Employee Accountability Having your schedule in a single place that is accessible anywhere, on any device boosts employee accountability.

It also enables employees to take responsibility when it comes to requesting shift swaps or days off. Instead of management taking on the role of finding a replacement, that is left to the employees.

More accountability and clearer schedules also reduce absenteeism.

Avoid Labor Law Violations There are a myriad of labor laws that companies must adhere to. One slip-up, and you could land a large fine, filled with lasting effects that may harm your business indefinitely.

Employee scheduling software can aid in preventing such outcomes by alerting management of potential or approaching labor law violations.

Avoiding Scheduling Conflicts Employee scheduling tools help you avoid scheduling conflicts by providing visibility into the status of each team member, showing who is currently working, scheduled to work, and their availability.

These are some of the latest technological advancements and trends to look out for in employee scheduling software.

Cloud-Based Tools Cloud-based tools are those in which the schedule information is stored online. Anyone with access to the app or program can access the schedule, and updates are reflected across all devices immediately. These tools also make real-time communication possible.

Smartphone Apps Cloud technology has enabled scheduling software providers to create mobile apps for their products.

Employees can download the application to view their schedules, along with request days off. Notifications can also be sent in real-time to inform if there is a change in the schedule or if another employee is looking to get a shift covered.

Managers also benefit from the app, as they can make scheduling changes while on the go. You can set app permissions so the management team can change the schedule, while employees can only view it.

Predictive Technology Forecasting technology predicts the workforce that will be needed for each shift. With this predictive technology, you will avoid overscheduling and/or under scheduling, saving you tons in labor costs.

Tool Integration Employee scheduling tools are more effective when they work seamlessly within the rest of your business. Scheduling tools that can integrate with the POS system, payroll software, and time tracking software means you don't have to move data from one platform to another manually.