Are last-minute shift cancellations getting the best of you? Shift swaps can help you run a successful business even when scheduling doesn’t go according to plan.

Table of contents
  1. Firstly, What is Shift Swapping?
  2. 4 Reasons Your Company Needs a Shift Swap Policy
  3. How to Support Your Shift Swapping Policy 
  4. Why You Should Shift Swap

As a business owner or shift manager, there are few things worse than getting that dreaded call from an employee letting you know they won’t be showing up for work and want to do a shift swap. 

Whether they’re warning you a day or just an hour before their shift, the timing is never good. Now you’re left with frantically calling your other employees to find a backup, but nobody can take the shift–now what? Are you going to force someone from your staff to show up? That’s most likely just going to leave you with burnt-out employees, low employee morale, and in turn, an unproductive business and unhappy clientele. 

This is where the beauty of a proper shift swap policy comes into play. 

Before going any further, you’ll want to know the advantages of a shift swap and how to execute the perfect shift swapping policy. Read on to learn all of that and more.  

Firstly, What is Shift Swapping?

A shift swap is when one employee swaps their current shift date or time for another employee’s scheduled shift date or time.

Employees can request a shift swap for something as common as a part-time employee/student needing more time to study, or it can be for something as serious as a family emergency and anything in between. The point is that a shift swap can be used by any employee whose personal calendar clashes with their work calendar. 

4 Reasons Your Company Needs a Shift Swap Policy

If you think shift swapping only benefits the lives of your employees, think again. Here are 4 ways your entire business can become more productive as a result of trading shifts.

Speeds Up the Shift Swap Process 

When employees know shift swaps are welcome, they can be proactive and timely about finding a replacement themselves.

Allowing employees to take charge of this frees up your time to take on other, more important tasks. This isn’t to say you won’t have the final say on shift swap requests (this is discussed further on), but it does take away the most time-consuming portion off your plate. 

Cutting “the middle man” (you) out of the equation will also:  

  • Avoid miscommunication: no more room for misinterpretations of shift instructions. 
  • Save time: it erases back and forth calls between employees and managers. 
  • Save money: no more screw-ups means no more overtime and other labor costs.

A Dependable Team of Employees

Business is never a one-way street, but many don’t realize that this includes the relationships you’ll have between you and your staff. When you value each individual’s personal schedule, they will be able to (and more importantly, want to) bring their A-game. Whether that is seen in the quality of their work or by the amount of time they’ve devoted, you’ll notice a positive difference. 

Employees are more dependable when they have the option to use a shift swap. They can stick to a schedule that makes it easy to:

  • Come to work on time
  • Stay concentrated on tasks 
  • Prepare for long shifts or heavy workloads
  • Work hard for the long haul without it leading to employee burnout   

Competitive Advantage

Due to COVID-19, the great resignation, and the search for work-life balance, it has become increasingly difficult to find good labor. Because shift swapping gives employees the room to honor both their personal and professional lives, your business will automatically have the edge over other businesses. 

Employees who have a family to take care of, schooling, count on public transportation, live far from work, or other roadblocks to consider, need more flexibility. These types of employee candidates can’t always predict the way their days, weeks, or months will pan out and need more leeway because of it. Being able to cater to this crowd will open the gates to more labor options. Closing the door on people who can only work on strict terms sets an unnecessary limitation on hiring employees who might become some of your most valuable workers.


Happy Employee, Happy Company

Employee happiness is dependent on a healthy work environment. When there isn’t a sufficient backup plan (like shift swapping), employees tend to be overworked. Shift swaps help your employee fulfill their fair share of hours without you paying for overtime.

Shift swapping eases tensions and builds teamwork, which also:

  • Boosts morale 
  • Engages employees 
  • Builds a sense of camaraderie 
  • Results in higher retention rates 

Exceed these benefits by using Connecteam’s shift swapper tool

It’s easy and intuitive to use!

How to Support Your Shift Swapping Policy 

Having a sudden change of events isn’t a crime. It’s life, and it will happen. So, if you can set clear company policies and procedures before it costs you unnecessary time and money, that would be the greatest gift to you. All you need to do is figure out a set of guidelines that employees can adhere to. Here’s how:

Make the rules clear– put them in your handbook

The employee handbook is a great place employees can reference your shift swapping policy. This is the perfect platform to take employees through step-by-step instructions on what a typical shift swap would look like. As new employees come on board, it would be wise to go over it in person or put them through a company training course

Make sure you cover the following:

  • Shift assignments: the ‘x’ amount of days notice you will provide employees 
  • Shift swap submissions: the acceptable timeframe for employees to request trading shifts
  • What the general process of a shift swap will look like on the day to day
  • The role you (or other managers) have in a shift swap (i.e., final approval) 
  • The repercussions of not following the shift swapping policy

Give Employees a Time Buffer

Although shift swaps are nothing to shy away from, it would still be best to prevent employees from getting to that point. This means that you should notify employees of their scheduled dates and times as far in advance as possible. 

On top of this, it would also help to let employees see each other’s calendars. If this is public to everyone, employees can figure out who is a possible alternate without having to guess and waste time calling people. 

Have the Final Say 

Before shift swaps are finalized, it is up to you to ensure that the new employee taking over the shift is just as qualified as the original employee. 

This should be determined based on:

  • Skill set
  • Level of expertise
  • Years of relevant experience

Other factors you may want to consider before giving your final approval are employee overtime and also checking that there are enough staff members available for the other shifts. No one knows the information on your shift types and requirements better than you or other supervisors. 

Having this pass through you is added assurance that nothing can fly under the radar. 

Provide Multiple Communication Channels 

Scheduling can be complicated and requires strong communication. For this reason, employees should have multiple ways of contacting you or other managers, such as:

  • Instant chat
  • Email 
  • Phone calls  

Communication doesn’t always take the traditional form of talking and instant chat:

  • Company-wide announcements let employees know of open claimable shifts
  • Sending a friendly reminder can ensure your employees are ready for an upcoming shift

Use Technology to Automate Scheduling  

If you feel your head spinning from how much preparation and maintenance is involved in shift swapping policy, then you’re not alone. Manually taking care of the many moving parts of scheduling is overwhelming. However, with technology, you can have all of this automated. 

A labor-management software solution has shift swap capabilities in addition to other add-ons such as communication tools, onboarding services for employee training, and of course, a full-on scheduler. 

Connecteam is an all-in-one labor management solution that automates scheduling and offers advanced shift swapping features. It also has:

  • Advanced scheduler: notes, files, and locations are detailed and attached to each shift. 
  • Admin controls: shift swaps are reviewed by admins for final approval. 
  • Claimable shifts: employees can pick and choose shifts that are applicable to their skills and availability.   
  • Preference settings: set restrictions on which employees can access/sign-up for shifts. 
  • Built-in chat: messaging is possible straight from the scheduler itself. 
  • Reminder alerts: automatically sends notifications to employees before upcoming shifts. 
  • Onboarding: training courses and quizzes to help employees learn your shift swapping policy. 
  • Documentation: employee handbook is always on file so that employees can reference your company policies. 

Why You Should Shift Swap

A shift swap is like a game of musical chairs; it can be chaotic, and sometimes it really does feel like there are a bunch of employees running around to alternate “seats.” However, the reality is that, unlike musical chairs, shift swapping is a process that lessens chaos and brings more structure.

Scheduling is no easy feat, especially when last-minute changes come into the mix. Shift swapping is a simple solution that can handle these unforeseen cancellations. With company policies and technology to automate all of the processes, you can be sure you are a fully functional workplace at all times. Connecteam is an example of a shift swapping software solution that allows any size business to effectively schedule with ease.  

The benefits of shift swaps are endless, but keeping your business running smoothly is the biggest one of all!

Don’t let life get in your way!

Connecteam helps you schedule around unforeseen scheduling conflicts!

… with your approval of course.

Learn more here

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