Scheduling work shifts is perhaps the toughest task for managers and business owners. This is a major concern for businesses with huge workforces and multiple shifts. However, it does not imply that effective scheduling is not possible for larger organizations. You can still avail of some smart strategies, tools, and techniques to streamline shifts and schedules. But before you adopt any of these, you need to be aware of the employee scheduling challenges that you may come across. Awareness of these challenges enables you to resolve them effectively. Here are the most common ones.
Challenge #1: Anticipating employee needs and preferences
Successful scheduling is all about knowing the needs and preferences of your workforce. Essentially, you should be aware of the work schedules that they are comfortable with and manage shifts accordingly. Making them work accordingly ensures high levels of productivity and lower absenteeism. However, anticipating the needs and preferences of individuals is rather tough for managers, particularly when they are large in numbers. Cultivating a transparent and positive culture can be a good solution. You can also conduct workforce surveys periodically to see what works for them.
Challenge #2: Allocating shifts fairly
Another major issue that managers usually face relates to allocating the shifts fairly. In fact, one of the main complaints that employees have is about a lack of fairness in their schedules. Many of them often state that they are intentionally made to work at inconvenient times or forced to do overtime. Being made to work “on-call” for sudden shifts is another thing that they complain about. A comprehensive assessment of your scheduling system will help you understand whether you are completely unbiased. Follow a rotational scheduling process so that every employee has a good work-life balance.
Challenge #3: Organizing availability
The biggest challenge that managers face is about organizing employee availability during shifts. Though both small and large organizations come across this challenge, it is tougher for the larger ones. For those who operate around the clock, there is also a problem related to managing multiple shifts. Rather than doing it manually, you should invest in a scheduling software solution. All you need to do is to input the employee availability into the tool and it will have an effective schedule ready for you in minutes.
Challenge #4: Managing employee fatigue
Employee fatigue is a concern for businesses because it can lower the performance and productivity of the employees. When people are fatigued, they are prone to making errors and even getting involved in workplace accidents. Beyond these risks, tired employees are susceptible to becoming sick as well. Additionally, it can also lead to employee dissatisfaction and high turnover rates for the business. So you need to make sure that you schedule fairly and give the workers enough rest between shifts.
Challenge #5: Managing budgets
A large number of managers report that managing budgets is one of the biggest problems they face. Even before you start scheduling the workforce, you need to determine the budget for each shift. Accordingly, you will have to come up with a mix of experienced, highly paid employees and new ones who are to be paid lesser wages for each shift. The idea is to calculate the total cost of the shift by adding up the wages of the employees and making sure that it fits your budget. A scheduling software solution can help you in this context as well.
Challenge #6: Filling shifts in case of unplanned events
Unforeseen events can come up at any time and disrupt the shifts that you have scheduled. This situation is a part and parcel of business operations and you cannot avoid them. However, filling shifts in unplanned events such as sudden absenteeism, bad weather or traffic jams can be a big problem for managers. The best way to address this challenge is by having a contingency plan in place so that the operations are not disrupted in any case.
Challenge #7: Scheduling hard-to-fill shifts
There are certain shifts that your employees would not prefer to work in, particularly when your business operates 24 by 7. After all, no one would want to work night shifts night after night. Allocating rotational shifts is the best bet to resolve this concern. Anticipate the busy periods and entice the workers who are willing to work during them with a reward system. This is a great idea because it motivates people to appear willingly, even for the toughest shifts.
Besides addressing these common challenges, you should focus on creating schedules that put the right resources in the right place and at the right time. This ensures high productivity and immense satisfaction in your workforce and makes things smoother for you as well.