woman reviewing a calendar on her phone

How to Schedule Your Employees

Scheduling your employees is difficult because you’re trying to balance the needs of your store with the needs of your team. You might have to work around school schedules, families, and other jobs. Keep reading to learn some tips for fairly scheduling your staff.

1. Gather everything you need before you begin

Before you create your schedule for the week, make sure you have everything you need within reach.

  • Your business’s peak hours – When your store is the busiest, make sure you plan to have plenty of workers, so no one becomes burnt out. If you don’t have enough staff members, you might also end up with frustrated customers.
  • Your company’s slowest hours – Your store won’t be busy all the time. During those periods, only schedule a few workers to prevent boredom and to make sure you’re not losing money.
  • Your employees’ schedule requests – Try to give your staff shifts that work best for them. Make sure you have any specific requests readily available so you can try to accommodate them. By scheduling your team members for times that work best for them, you’ll have happier workers who are less likely to quit. Read also: How to Prevent Good Employees from Leaving

2. Create your schedule

Start with the busiest hours, then go back and fill in the slower times to ensure you’ve met your company’s needs. This will also help ensure you’re not overworking anyone on your staff.

3. Share the calendar

Distribute the schedule at the same time every week. This way, each worker knows when they need to submit requests to you. Try to share the calendar as far in advance as possible, so your employees have time to plan their personal lives around their shifts.

4. Keep an eye out for employee scheduling abuse

Most of your workers will only ask for shift changes for emergencies, but some people may try to abuse the system. They’ll try to manipulate you and their coworkers to get a better shift, or they’ll look for excuses to get out of working entirely.

Watch out for staff members who

  • always ask for Friday and Monday changes
  • request to leave early throughout the week
  • switch with coworkers to work shifts with higher tip rates
  • avoid labor-intensive work, like stocking or inventory
  • ask for last-minute changes without a legitimate reason
  • always have the same emergency prevent them from working their scheduled shifts

If you notice an employee is abusing the system, discuss the issue with them in private. From that conversation, you can decide whether they’re still a good fit for your company. Learn more about how to have difficult discussions with your team.

5. Avoid employer schedule abuse

You might also be guilty of scheduling abuse. You might do this without realizing it because you’re trying to strike a balance between having enough workers and staying on budget.

There are several different types of employer scheduling abuse you should avoid:

  • On-call scheduling – This involves asking employees to leave shifts open and calling them in if you need them. Using on-call scheduling may prevent your staff from working a second job, without guaranteeing any income.
  • Canceling a shift at the last minute – If you regularly cancel shifts at the last minute, your staff members have planned their lives around their work, but you aren’t paying them for it.
  • Last-minute scheduling – If you wait until the last minute to distribute the calendar, you make it impossible for your employees to make other plans, like finding more work or scheduling doctors’ appointments.
  • Extending shifts past scheduled time – If you force or expect your team to stay past their scheduled shift, you’re being unfair. They’ve likely made plans based on their scheduled times, and your demanding them to stay can interrupt those plans. Instead of demanding, ask your employees if they’ll be able and willing to stay past their shift. If they say “no,” don’t penalize them.