Organisations without fair and balanced employee schedules risk over-working staff and reducing productivity. A well-considered workforce scheduling strategy can help to improve employee satisfaction engagement, and ultimately retention.

Organisations that succeed in fostering an employee-friendly scheduling system can help workers feel more valued. Satisfied workers tend to stay more engaged and loyal to the business.

There are four things organisations should consider to create an effective employee schedule:

1. Time off requests
Employees need to be able to request time off for a vacation, a sick day, or any other relevant reason, directly to a centralised system. Once approved, those should be reflected on timesheets and taken into account by the scheduling software.

Self-service tools let employees lodge their preferred working hours and unavailability. This gives organisations a clear oversight of availabilities and helps to inform leave request reviews.

2. Shift swaps
Scheduling systems that let workers trade shifts with qualified peers give them more control over their schedule without compromising business results.  

You never know when at short notice you’ll need a revised number of bar staff, or maybe one of your key sous chefs will fall sick. Businesses rely on the effective deployment of these staff. Shift-swap and multi-shift swapping not only allows you to make new shifts available on the go, but also lets available staff respond to you via any web-enabled mobile smartphone.

3. Adding and dropping shifts
Scheduling tools can let workers indicate if they want to pick up additional work or reduce hours. System safeguards can look at the total work hours and allow for shift additions and subtractions when it’s beneficial for the employee and employer.  

In most hospitality environments there are workers who want to work more shifts – and others who wish to work less. Having the ability to add or drop shifts within your time and attendance system allows you to offer varied hour commitments, without compromising operational compliance.

4. Shift and vacation bidding
Letting workers bid for future holiday periods and high-demand shifts well in advance can give them greater control over their schedule and lets them plan personal obligations.  

In bars, hotels and restaurants, holiday periods can be a headache in terms of planning. Businesses need to keep operating but staff also want to share holidays with their families. Giving employees more flexibility in choosing their shifts and time off shouldn’t be a burden for organisations.

Workforce management software gives your staff the opportunity to apply for leave during busy periods well in advance. This enhances planning and maximises productivity whilst delivering staff a better experience for their personal plans.

Leslie Tarnacki is VP and GM at WFS: A WorkForce Software Company (WFS Australia).

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