Make Team Scheduling Fast and Easy

Make Team Scheduling Fast and Easy

For any small business owner, creating a schedule of employees’ shifts is like working on a puzzle. It’s a task that’s more than just filling in slots of time: schedules need to be cohesive, mindful, and functional. Yet, team scheduling can take up a lot of a small business owner’s time—a headache that feels as though there’s no remedy. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Team scheduling doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. 

Let’s walk through some common team scheduling pitfalls and how Homebase can help simplify the process, making it fast and easy, freeing you up to tackle more pressing needs of the business. 

What is team scheduling and why it matters

Team scheduling is exactly what it sounds like: it’s creating a weekly, biweekly, or longer-term schedule, like monthly or quarterly, to know how often employees are working.

Keeping track of and scheduling employees matters for functional and organizational reasons. It would be awesome to ask employees how often they want to work and when and stick to that schedule, but life (and other people) don’t really work that way. Team scheduling is an important tool for understanding how many hours and wages are going toward labor; historical patterns of coverage needed year-over-year; and keeping one source of truth of business owners and employees to see when and how often they’re working.

Watch out for these team scheduling headaches and complications

In a perfect business world, scheduling employees would be a breeze—we all know the real world tends to get in the way. Luckily, there are ways to mitigate the stressors that come with adequately staffing your business, and we’ll cover those, too.

Below are a few headaches and complications to look out for and try to avoid when building out your schedule for employees. 

Balancing budget with coverage needs

Your labor costs need to fit within your budget—plain and simple. A big way to make scheduling a pain is to have more labor than allotted in the budget for that week or scheduling period.

For example, let’s say you scheduled an extra pair of folks for coverage needs but forgot to check how many hours and how much money has been allocated for that period. In addition to that, it turns out that it’s a slow period, so you don’t need that many people anyway. That means you’ve got to redo a schedule and tactfully take away shifts, working through the puzzle to end up with a schedule that has everything your business needs. In truth, this can impact employee morale. If employees feel that their shifts are being taken away because the schedule isn’t aligned with the budget, they may feel undervalued. 

Keep budget considerations top of mind when planning out a schedule to avoid making any errors of duplicate or unnecessary coverage. 

Having enough team coverage during busy periods

While ensuring labor costs align with budget concerns, there’s also cause for a headache if a schedule doesn’t take busy periods into consideration. Having to ask employees to come in when they’re not scheduled may feel like pulling teeth. 

Try to get around that by anticipating what you’ll need. For example, if you know that your busy period is just before a big holiday rush, build in costs and ensure proper coverage. Running a business with a thinly spread-out team is stressful for any business owner. There’s an art to crafting a good, functional team schedule that anticipates customer or guest demands while not running your budget over its limit. 

Time off like illness and vacation

Everyone needs a break at some point. Time off for employees can be planned, like personal or vacation days, or spur of the moment like illness or employee absenteeism. Regardless of why there may be a gap in employee availability or coverage, scheduling around it can feel exhausting. 

To avoid complications and ensure proper coverage when employees take personal or vacation days, ask employees to deliver those dates to you well in advance of the schedule. Short notice isn’t going to help, and it’s often a sore spot in team scheduling. Think of your scheduling framework. If a schedule consists of two work weeks, your employees should bring requests for personal or vacation days well in advance to you aren’t stuck trying to sort out availability at the last minute.

When it comes to illnesses or employee absenteeism, there are ways to avoid a lack of coverage, such as scheduling an overlap of an hour or two between first shift and second. That way if an employee is late or ill, there’s someone who can handle the work until someone is called in. 

Poor communication

Nothing complicates any situation more than poor communication. Employees rely on business owners and managers to schedule shifts that fit within their availability and small businesses need employees to have agency over their schedules and arrive on time for work. It sounds simple but, more often than not, miscommunications and misunderstandings are plentiful, causing unnecessary frustration. 

Keep an open line of communication with team members about their schedules. For example, use software that can alert them when they’ve been scheduled. Follow-up if you need to but simplify the process of communicating schedules so you and your team are all on the same page.

Tips to simplify scheduling your team

Now that we know which common mishaps to avoid when scheduling employees, there are a few tips that may help make scheduling fast and breezy. 

  1. Figure out exactly what you need in terms of labor. Your labor needs are an essential part of a business plan that you’ve already outlined. This shouldn’t change too much for small business owners, other than busy periods of the year.  You’ll want to map this out as much as possible to avoid any complications.
  2. Collect PTO requests and availability. Use a team scheduling tool to gather days off requests and manage them from one centralized spot.
  3. Get yourself an employee scheduling software. Gone are the days of working in a spreadsheet of manually creating and tracking employee shifts. Get an employee scheduling software that has all of your employee information, including availability, in one spot to create or copy schedules. 
  4. Let employees handle their own shift swaps. Empower your employees by letting them swap shifts with each other. Instead of fielding all of those requests in-person, you can approve them from a centralized scheduling tool. 

What to look for in an employee scheduling software

Find a tool that fits your needs, not the other way around. Look for employee scheduling software that not only works to keep team scheduling as fast and easy as possible but see if it integrates into other essential parts of the business and employee experience.

Homebase makes scheduling team members fast and easy. Use Homebase to communicate with employees by sending out notifications when a new schedule is out or if something has altered. Let employees handle their own shift swaps with Homebase and then approve it all from the same app. Homebase also has a time clock tool that makes timesheets easy to handle and payroll easy to navigate. 

Homebase is the employee scheduling software that will tend to your needs, not ask you to fit its mold. 

Simplify the complicated

Technology has helped streamline team scheduling. There are complexities, sure, in getting a team’s schedule just right but it doesn’t need to be troublesome. Working on a puzzle and getting all the pieces into the correct spots is fulfilling. Let that become your team scheduling reality. 

Get started with Homebase for free today.