As the number of deskless employees continues to grow, organisations need employee management solutions that can cope with the demands of rostering a largely shift-based (or “deskless”) workforce. Unlike outdated systems which required significant manual input, modern employee scheduling software makes tasks like managing employee schedules, processing time off requests and dealing with shift swapping a breeze. While making life easier for roster managers, it can also benefit your business by reducing labour costs.
These seven employee scheduling hacks will help you easily create a work schedule ideally suited to your deskless workforce.
1. Ascertain your labour needs
Before you can schedule shifts, you need a clear, thorough picture of your staffing requirements. This might sound obvious, but overlooking this vital step can land you in difficult situations, such as understaffing an important event or failing to meet legislated staffing levels.
Your employee scheduling needs to ensure every shift is covered, which can be complex when you need multiple people doing the right jobs at the right times and places. For example, you might need one support worker to cover a night shift and three during the day. Ensuring your shift scheduling is accurate and error free can save a lot of time and hassle, such as the need for last minute shift swapping or having to call in costly agency staff.
2. Analyse seasonal, industry-wide and historical trends
The shift-based workforce is typically subject to the biggest demand fluctuations, which can pose a major challenge to employee scheduling. The COVID-19 pandemic and Great Resignation have emphasised the importance of understanding factors like industry-wide workforce trends, while highlighting pre-existing seasonal fluctuations such as the need for more casual workers during school holidays or flu season.
Knowing when your busy and quiet periods are likely to occur helps you create a work schedule accordingly. You can look back at your historical data to determine, map and forecast expected staff requirements, but remember to also factor in anything new, such as changes to legislation or the return of events cancelled during COVID-19.
3. Use your pool of workers to their full potential
When conducting your employee scheduling, a good place to start is to look at your team and analyse their strengths and weaknesses. This will enable you to design your employee shift schedule to benefit your business as well as your staff. For example, if you have an employee with exceptional customer service skills, you can build their work schedule to capitalise on this trait.
Optimising your employee scheduling allows you to allocate resources efficiently, helping to reduce labour costs. It can also ensure you don’t fall foul of issues like having multiple staff members asking for the same dates off work.
It’s also vital to determine the qualifications required of team members on any given shift. For example, do you need a registered nurse or someone with an RSA on shift? This not only supports award and legislative compliance but also helps you discover any skills gaps and plan targeted training.
Employee scheduling software makes this process fast and efficient. Humanforce, for example, has drag and drop functionality that streamlines shift scheduling, with automation to notify you of any qualification requirements for each shift.
4. Develop a communication process that’s fit for your team
Good communication is key to the success of any business. As well as information about their work schedule, deskless workers need to know who’s in charge, which duties they need to perform each shift, and how to input their shift preferences and submit time off requests.
Effective communication can be difficult to achieve when most of your staff are deskless, hourly employees. In fact, research has shown that 84% of deskless workers say they don’t get enough communication from their managers and business leaders.
Employee scheduling software can assist by making it easy for staff to see their rosters and input their availability. Some scheduling software, like Humanforce, has inbuilt tools to facilitate team communication. Using the chat function of our mobile employee scheduling app, your staff can interact with other team members and engage with their managers – all from the convenience of their mobile device.
Managers can also broadcast important information to the entire team, such as updates to vaccine or mask wearing requirements.
5. Understand how employee availability and time off requests influence scheduling
When it comes time to schedule shifts, be sure to consider employee availability factors such as leave or holiday requests. Honouring your staff’s work preferences can boost morale and employee engagement, helping you to retain your best people. However, it can also be time consuming and challenging to track, especially if you have a large pool of workers covering various shifts at different locations.
Be sure to record your employees’ work preferences so you can refer to them when you’re scheduling. Cloud-based employee scheduling software can streamline this process significantly. For example, you could set up shift templates covering employee availability. Give your staff access to these templates through their employee scheduling app, so everyone can file their work preferences and time off requests in one location.
Employee scheduling software also allows you to set up rules around employee availability and leave requests, such as lock out periods when leave can’t be taken, the amount of notice needed to process leave requests, and how overlapping or conflicting leave requests are managed.
With availability sorted, you can quickly assign employee shifts. Aim to get your work schedule out as soon as it’s ready to give your staff ample notice. Cloud-based employee scheduling software makes this easy.
Another way to aid employee scheduling efficiency is to get your staff involved. Employee scheduling software allows staff to do some of the hard work for you. With Humanforce, staff can manage their shifts and bid for available shifts from an intuitive user interface on their desktop or mobile device, while you remain in control of final scheduling.
6. Track, analyse and adjust
Employee scheduling is obviously an ongoing task rather than a set and forget activity. You’ll need to monitor how your employee shift management strategy is working and update it accordingly. For example, did demand swings or schedule changes occur as expected? Did you allocate resources optimally or is there room for improvement? How did actual employee performance compare with your predictions?
Employee scheduling software with people analytics capability can make this process easy by presenting key data in a user-friendly format, giving you excellent visibility over your employee scheduling. Humanforce’s workforce analytics tool transforms your workforce data into actionable insights that assist you to make informed business decisions supported by evidence.
7. Use the right tool for your workplace
Finally, having the right tools can make or break your employee scheduling strategy. While some businesses still get by with paper-based solutions or software built for other purposes (such as word processing software and spreadsheets), many employers find these cumbersome and inadequate for employee management in the digital age. If you’re running a business where staff work shifts across different times and locations, for example, it can be impossible to manually track employee availability and assign shifts.
Modern shift scheduling software and employee scheduling apps solve this problem by applying cutting edge technology to shift scheduling.
Employee scheduling software built for the contemporary workforce
Humanforce has been purpose-built for the needs of today’s shift-based deskless workforce. Our intelligent shift scheduling software allows managers and HR teams to create cost-effective rosters in minutes. Designed to make building demand-based rosters easy, Humanforce takes all your staff requirements, leave, availability and qualifications into consideration automatically, saving you hours of time and effort. Plus, capacity and demand-based warnings alert you to possible issues, while shift templates streamline manual processes.
In addition to analytics and reporting capabilities, Humanforce also facilitates compliance with safety, employment, and labour laws. Our Award Interpretation Engine, for example, helps ensure you pay your staff correctly for each and every shift, while secure record storage and a clear chain of authorisation foster compliance with global privacy acts.
Humanforce is a leading provider of shift-based workforce management solutions that simplifies onboarding, scheduling, time and attendance, employee engagement, and communication. Customers in more than 23 countries use Humanforce to optimise costs, realise compliance confidence, empower their team, and drive growth. Humanforce was founded in Sydney in 2002, and today has offices across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK. www.humanforce.com