Everyone has 24 hours in a day, but sometimes as a manager or business owner, you feel like your time is like putting socks in washing machine. You know you started with 24, but somehow, two or three disappeared right before your eyes.
Scheduling your employees, even if you only have a couple, can be a difficult task that is time-consuming and not pleasant. Optimizing your time is important, because, let’s be honest, you have better things to do than struggle with putting together the monthly schedule and figuring out who is available and who isn’t. The following tips can help you along when you’re at your wit’s end with scheduling.
1. Create a Process
Everything works better when everyone is on the same page. When you establish a set way of creating and distributing your schedule, any employee, regardless of whether they are a ten-year veteran or a new hire, will be able to understand the scheduling process.
Consider creating a set way to accept vacation submissions, paid time off and family leave, as well as developing an easy way to assign work to your employees. It can be as simple as asking your employees to use the same subject line in an email so their requests don’t get buried in the shuffle.
To create a process that works for you, set specific times every week vacation requests have to be turned in. In a perfect world, being proactive would be all you would need, but emergencies occur. Make sure you have a set process in place for when an employee has an emergency and can’t come into work, and inform your employees of what they should do should their co-worker not be able to come in.
2. Play to Strengths and Weaknesses
We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, and one of the best things you can do is learn to play to them. Some employees will excel at certain tasks while others struggle. If your business has busy seasons, try to schedule your employees in the positions where they do the best.
You don’t need to experiment with having Joe learn how to operate the iced coffee machine on the hottest day of the year and you have a line of caffeine-hungry zombies out the door. However, during your slow season, you should allow employees to try something they want to learn, even if they don’t naturally excel at it.
By giving your employees the time to dabble in something outside of their normal work day, they’ll learn new tasks, which is good for the employee AND your business. Keeping employees driven, engaged and invested in their work can be hard when they do the same thing every day, even if they are amazing at what they normally do. By scheduling them a few hours a week to learn something new, you keep them engaged and present.
Your business will actually benefit, too. Here’s why: Say Susan who runs your iced coffee machine breaks her leg and can’t come to work. She might be the best iced coffee maker you’ve got, but that doesn’t help you if she isn’t able to come to work. If you let Joe learn the basics before a crisis occurs, he’ll be able to keep your business afloat even with zombies at the door, all while feeling great he mastered something new.
3. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Depending on the size of your company, using technology to keep your scheduling process organized might just mean using a shared calendar, or it could mean investing in workforce management software. You can make the most detailed and beautiful schedule ever seen by mankind, but if you can’t share it with your workforce, it becomes utterly useless.
Sometimes you can kill two birds with one stone. Some workforce management software offers the ability to not just schedule work time but actual tasks. This is helpful because you can track the things that need to get done daily but might be forgotten, such as mopping underneath the coffee machine, not just cleaning it after a shift.
4. Know the Facts
Here’s a breakdown of facts in a very simple way: Poor Scheduling = Unhappy Employees and High Turnover. According to a recent CAP study, it costs about $3,328 to find, hire and train an employee paid $10 an hour for a retail position.
After investing that money into an employee, most companies would want to keep them for a little while to maximize their profit. However, the Hay Group, which performed another study, found the average turnover rate for part-time retail employees was 67 percent. Ouch. One of the big reasons retail industries have such a high turnover is because of scheduling.
Now, most people who work in retail know they’ll have to work weekends, and guess what. Most are okay with that. The reason people leave is because they are bored, and that’s in any industry, not just retail. There are various reasons for why you could experience high turnover, but chances are, if you’re hiring the right people, there’s something you could do better as an employer to keep employees happy and coming to work.
5. Bring Incentives on Board
Who doesn’t love a good incentive? Even if you’re the boss at your company or in your department, you still probably love incentives. Want to know who else loves incentives? Employees. Positive reinforcements do wonders for a workplace. Creating a happy atmosphere or a positive culture in your workplace doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, for that matter.
When it comes to scheduling and attendance, some companies struggle with employees being late to work, especially if it’s an early shift. When people are late, even by five minutes, it impacts the productivity of the company. To incentivize people to not hit snooze and to arrive at work on time, give everyone $25 monopoly money at the beginning of the month.
For every two minutes they are late in the morning, they have to give you one dollar in monopoly money back. At the end of the month, if they kept all of their money, they receive a $25 bonus on their check. And while that may not seem like much, that’s basically a Planet Fitness gym membership AND Spotify for free. It’s the little things in life, really.
Scheduling isn’t only about making sure you have warm bodies present. It’s about really honing in on what your employees can do, keeping them engaged, and letting them learn new things without getting burnt out.