How To Create The Perfect Work Schedule For Your Team: A Complete Guide

Expert Tips
Denis Yankovsky September 29, 2021 11 min read

Learn the reasons why scheduling is more important than you think. Find out how to create a schedule that will fit everyone’s needs and can increase revenue in the long run.

How To Create A Perfect Work Schedule

Quick Guide

    If you think scheduling involves just creating a “simple” timetable, think again! 

    And if you’re really agonizing on how to make a perfect schedule? Well, it requires a lot more than just scribbling down your employee’s name with set hours and dates. 

    Research shows only 39% of 80 renowned retailers actually have consistent schedules. (The same can be said for even more industries!) 

    That figure is shocking, considering that digital solutions are out there and are so easy to use. In fact, using the right tools and knowing how to create a schedule results in employees being 19% more effective on their tasks.

    So, if you’re still using Excel, or the old-fashioned pen and paper, we have a lot in store to show you. We dive deep on how to create the perfect schedule so that you can be the manager employees rave about

    Below are nine easy tips on how to make a work schedule….work.

    What Does a Poor Schedule Look Like?

    Gone are the days of the 9-5 and traditional office hours and shift work. The world of work has changed and scheduling is no longer a doddle. This is because of extended working hours, shift work, flexible working hours, part-time hours, etc. 

    However, with so many new scheduling options to juggle, the balance of what makes a schedule can get thrown off course. And when that happens… 

    Bottom line – if your workforce is stressed and customers are involved, you end up with unhappy customers, reduced profits, a poor company culture, and the list goes on. 

    However, with fair scheduling, you can achieve a schedule that suits everyone’s needs. In turn, you can reach company goals and happier employees can result in financial benefits. 

    The following tips demonstrate how to create a work schedule that eliminates unhappiness and all of the above-mentioned issues.

    How Can I Avoid Common Scheduling Errors?

    Before you can even begin asking yourself, how to create a work schedule or even how to set up a work schedule? You need to understand if you are making the same mistakes most managers make. 

    Now’s the time to put yourself in your employees’ shoes. 

    This includes: 

    • Last-minute scheduling: not leaving enough time for you and your employees to make changes. Employees require the flexibility to schedule personal plans outside of their work lives. 
    • Double-scheduling an employee: if one of your employees works in different roles or at multiple locations (usually store managers), it’s your duty to ensure they aren’t scheduled twice for the same slot. Doing so will cause a lot of confusion and makes employees feel that their position isn’t valued. 
    • The wrong person for the job: for example, Driver John should not be scheduled to drive a forklift truck. Even if John is a good driver, it definitely doesn’t mean he is qualified to drive a forklift. 
    • Unfair scheduling: be sure you’re not giving a part-time employee too many shifts. These team members might have other commitments outside of work that they can’t miss. Furthermore, full-time staff should have adequate shifts to meet their financial obligations. 
    • Unnecessary overtime: avoid giving a single employee too many shifts in any given week. This helps keep labor costs down, as you won’t have to pay out more money for overtime.

    When you can recognize the most common scheduling problems, you are now better prepared to correct the issues at hand to ensure a fair and efficient schedule. 

    Go Digital Moving Forward

    When asking yourself how to set up a perfect work schedule, you need to ask yourself, am I using the right tools? 

    If you are still using pen and paper, you’ve probably brought out the whiteout several times. That’s because you end up having to call or text your employees when they make last-minute changes. 

    You find yourself working on the schedule quite often, and you can’t manage the rest of your tasks. However, it doesn’t need to stay that way! 

    Going digital with apps such as Connecteam can help you effortlessly and efficiently schedule in minutes instead of hours. 

    Not only that, you can move your company into the 21st century with an app that is similar to most social apps your team is already using, so you can wave goodbye to the learning curve. 

    Connecteam’s app is so versatile that you can do the following:

    • Quick schedule planning and distribution 
    • Drag and drop shifts
    • Leave open shifts for employees to claim
    • Templates to make schedules quick and easy
    • Accessible via desktop and mobile 
    • Add as much information as needed to each shift, like the location, attach files, notes, customer details, statuses, and tasks
    • Full visibility with real-time status updates and notifications
    • Import schedules from Excel 
    • Avoid unwanted overtime or double-scheduling with built-in time tracking, limitations, and alerts to save money
    • View the full picture easily and see all shifts by teams or jobs
    • See how many shifts and hours each employee has planned to avoid unnecessary overtime
    • Use filters, color code tags, and smart groups to assign tasks to the right people
    • Employees can update their availability
    • Receive alerts and dynamic status updates in real-time (shift without user, started the shift, clocked-in and out, left work zone, reached daily/weekly limit, etc.)

    Connecteam – No.1 Scheduling App

    Say goodbye to hours of scheduling! Drag and drop, repeat shifts, add notes, approve absence and sick days, and so much more!

    Involve Your Employees

    Don’t just let yourself wonder how to create a schedule? It’s time you asked your employees. 

    It’s all very well scheduling everyone to your heart’s content. But, just by asking your team their preferences or asking them to review what’s currently on the docket, you can increase productivity by 20%. 

    Additionally, if your business involves customers, your sales could improve by 37%, so ensuring you have the perfect schedule is paramount. 

    So, how can you involve your employees in the scheduling process? 

    • Hold a group discussion (either in person or a company group chat) to learn what everyone’s preferences are – this encourages engagement as well as meets their needs. 
    • Send a survey or poll to learn when is the best time of day and weekday to share the schedule. 
    • Ask them when the cut-off date should be set for when requesting time off? 
    • Allow them to claim open shifts and swap shifts themselves. (This could be useful around peak season where your staff would like to do overtime)

    It’s important to note that your employee’s lives revolve around their schedules, and therefore it’s imperative that they feel they can input into the scheduling process.

    Schedule Affect On Turnover

    Additionally, it is crucial that you have guidelines in place for requesting time off. The following can be covered in your employee handbook, or wherever you house all such information. 

    • How far in advance employees can request time off
    • How to submit the request
    • How to swap shifts (if necessary)
    • Time that you need extra help., like busy periods such as Christmas
    • Any other requirement

    “Two-thirds of workers said they received less than two weeks’ notice of their schedules, and 15 percent had less than 72 hours of notice. Eighty percent said they had little or no input into their schedules. A third said they wanted more hours than they were assigned.”

    Even if you feel you’ve mastered scheduling, there’s always room to grow. Your employees need to be heard so that you schedule your employees to where everyone is happy.

    Furthermore, make it your business to know upcoming events. For example, if you own a grocery or clothing store, sales are most likely to increase around Christmas time. By scheduling early you can know if you need to hire extra staff for that period of time or ask your team to work overtime. You can easily be ready for those peak seasons. 

    Have A Backup Plan

    Sometimes you have to be ready to make scheduling changes because, well, life happens! 

    Maybe an employee has a sick child or has a car that won’t start, whatever the reason, you now have a shift that isn’t covered

    So, as a quick backup, you can let employees find their own substitutes. 

    Instead of wasting hours to find a replacement yourself, this process can now take a few minutes. You’re reducing the load off your shoulders but also encouraging accountability. (Employees who are keen on taking more shifts can quickly take up the chance to get more hours in). 

    However, make sure that every employee knows that all shift trades, replacements, and substitutions should be approved by you, the manager. Nothing will be final until the change has been cleared by you, this is to ensure that all shifts are equally and appropriately staffed. (Remember the driver John example? Yeah, this is exactly why you need processes in place.) 

    Know Your Local Regulations

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    This might sound simple, but many businesses fail to check and often run into fines or worse being sued! So if you’re considering how to set up a foolproof work schedule, you need to comply with the local bylaws, it’s not a question, it’s a must! 

    If you are unsure how to do so, check with your accountant or bookkeeper to ensure you are paying your staff according to your type of business and state. Once you understand the rules, you can comply with the legal requirements when building your schedule

    Certain states require employers to pay workers for last-minute scheduling changes (“predictability pay”) and on-call shifts. This affects businesses such as restaurants or cafes since their staffing needs may change according to the weather.

    Other local regulations, such as New York, go even further and ban the on-call shifts and “clopen” shifts altogether by requiring a minimum rest period between shifts. 

    The Schedules That Work Act allows employees to make changes to their schedules without fear and ensures that employees are provided a more secure schedule. Currently, the bill passed covers the retail, food, cleaning, hospitality, and warehousing industries. Knowing this information is crucial as any changes made to the schedule in less than 14 days require employers to pay their workers. Under The Schedules That Work Act, employers are additionally required to give a valid reason for denying a request to change their schedule. 

    It’s clear that knowing your state laws are mandatory as you wouldn’t want to pay a fine for something so easily avoided. 

    Be Predictable

    Here’s the thing, if you are throwing schedules around whenever you want and planning your schedule in advance, there is no way that your employees can create a healthy work-life balance. And that only leaves you with disgruntled, unhappy team members which lead to so many negative effects that we don’t have time to list them all.  

    No, we don’t mean small or occasional schedule changes here and there. We mean constantly changing shift schedules or inconsistent schedules being created. When that happens, studies show it leads to lower cognition and worsening physical health.

    This is precisely why in point four we said to involve your employees so you can create a scheduling process that works for all.

    Summary On How To Create A Perfect Work Schedule

    Creating the perfect schedule doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Based on the tips we shared on how to create a work schedule, the task should be a little easier now. 

    To ensure you don’t run into any bumps and hurdles, always schedule ahead of time so you can manage unexpected surprises, and you can make changes before it’s too late. Remember to provide your team with the right tools so that they can approach you with any time off!

    Now’s the time to move into the 21st century and leave the pen and paper behind. Opt for a digital tool that’s efficient and makes scheduling a breeze. Once you’ve nailed your schedule, you will notice how your business runs more efficiently. You won’t be questioning how to create a work schedule, you will be asking yourself what took us so long to get here?

    Simply Employee Scheduling

    Take the difficultly out of scheduling and choose an all in one app! Connecteam lets you distribute shifts, add notes, assign shifts in minutes, and so much more!

    Learn More!
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