Employee Scheduler | 4 mins read

How to Schedule Employees Effectively and Strategically

how to schedule employees effectively and strategically
Michelle Jaco

By Michelle Jaco

Employee work schedules affect every aspect of your business. Use these best practices to strategically create employee work schedules that will benefit both your business and your staff.

As the employee scheduler for your company, you must learn how to schedule your hourly employees effectively and strategically. Employee work schedules affect every aspect of your business, from labor costs and legal compliance to employee satisfaction and retaining a skilled labor force.

There are many things to consider when creating an effective schedule, including how many employees you need to cover each shift, availability of skilled labor, and fluctuations in demand for your goods and services. In this guide, you'll learn the best practices for strategically creating hourly employee work schedules that will benefit both your business and your workers.

Best Practices for Creating a Schedule

To be an effective employee scheduler, you will need to start by determining the number of employees needed, which shifts you'll need them for, and where they should be stationed. Proper planning is key for keeping labor costs as low as possible while still meeting demand.

Here are the three steps you should follow to schedule employees effectively and strategically

1. Determine How Many Employees You Need

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The first step is determining how many employees you need to meet the operational demands of your company. Getting this step right is crucial because future schedules will be based on your findings.

  • How many employees are required to meet demand during each shift, and where are they needed? Use a spreadsheet, whiteboard, or online scheduling software to help you keep track throughout the process.
  • Use data/trends from previous scheduling periods to help you predict future needs.
  • Take future events into account, such as increased demand around certain holidays or seasons.
  • Determine any special qualifications needed for each shift/location.
  • For efficiency, consider using employee scheduling software to track time and attendance.

2. Assess Your Labor Pool

Now that you know which resources are required, assess your current labor pool to see if you have the right employees to meet your needs. Be sure to consider any upcoming events that may affect your labor pool, such as an upcoming holiday or a long weekend.

If you foresee an upcoming increase in demand, it's a good idea to have a few extra employees on the schedule to ensure you can meet demand. Don't forget to consider other resources as well, such as vehicles or other equipment needed for specific jobs.

Getting this step right is crucial. Accounting for hourly employees, non-personnel resources, and fluctuating needs can be confusing. The employee scheduler will find that scheduling software is a huge help in keeping track of demand and forecasting future needs based on historical data.

3. Define Scheduling Policies

Your company's policies, processes, and regulations all affect how employees are scheduled. Don't forget to consider overtime and seniority status as well as certifications and location when creating your hourly schedule. Set clear guidelines that are specific to your company and ensure that your managers understand how the shifts are assigned.

Assigning Shifts

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Once your master schedule is planned out, you've determined that your labor force meets your needs, and scheduling guidelines are set, the employee scheduler is ready to begin selecting the right employees for each shift and location.

Remember the following key points when deciding how to assign shifts

Approach
Will shift managers be assigning shifts, will you allow qualified staff members to select from available shifts, or will you use a combined approach? If it's practical for your company, allowing employees to choose their own shifts can be a real timesaver and it will improve employee satisfaction and reduce turnover.

Qualifications
Be sure to consider the qualification criteria for each shift and choose employees with the necessary skills for each shift. Ensure that each team member is up to date with their certifications or credentials as required to avoid fines and legal issues.

Scheduling Guidelines
Be sure to consider overtime status, seniority, and any other guidelines that are unique to your company.

Employee Availability
You will need to choose from employees that are available to work during each shift. For example, you may have employees on vacation or some other type of leave. You'll need an effective way to keep track of employee availability to avoid errors.

Employee Preference
Taking employee preferences into account when creating the schedule will save you time by reducing change requests. It will also reduce turnover and last-minute call-outs, while improving employee satisfaction.

The Role of Technology in the Process

Employee scheduling software can simplify and streamline the scheduling process in a variety of ways. It can also save your company money by ensuring that guidelines and regulations are met.



Scheduling software comes with a variety of features, including future forecasting, which can be incredibly helpful for determining resource needs throughout the year.

If your labor pool is large, utilizing scheduling software will reduce mistakes. Scheduling software will help you keep track of employee profiles, such as pay rates, availability, seniority, and more for each team member. It can also be used to automate shift assignments, saving the employee scheduler time and reducing errors that can lead to reduced productivity, higher labor costs, and employee dissatisfaction.

Final Thoughts

Improper scheduling can lead to wasted labor costs, reduced productivity, and lost profits. Failing to comply with labor laws can also lead to fines and lawsuits. Employee schedulers should follow these best practices for scheduling employees effectively and strategically to reduce mistakes and keep labor costs low.

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