Top tips for efficient employee scheduling

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

By Sridhar Iyengar, below, Managing Director, Europe, Zoho Corporation

Efficient employee scheduling is an essential skill for businesses of any size, and it is good practice for small and medium businesses to incorporate it into business models from the offset. They are in the unique position to be able to gather feedback quickly and frequently from their employees, helping to track changes and make their businesses more efficient. SMEs should learn how to schedule tasks that foster employee engagement while also remaining flexible to new changes, setting good standards and expectations which can be replicated as organisations grow and expand.

Research shows that only one in eight people (12 per cent) use a dedicated time management system, suggesting that individuals may not have an effective schedule in place to manage their time at work.

Learning how to organise employee schedules properly can help to boost productivity, customer service and employee morale. This is part of enabling a good employee experience, which can make a business more attractive as a employer. In addition, understanding business needs, introducing scheduling software, and using a people-first approach can elevate operations.

Creating the right balance

An employer should understand the needs and goals of their business. Scheduling should balance customer expectations, employee needs, talents, and peak times of business.

Offering open shifts and shift-swaps to increase flexibility for employees is helpful to manage employee experience. Using software to clearly communicate and streamline time-off requests can increase efficiency and avoid miscommunication. Zoho Shifts offers an easy-to-use scheduling tool that businesses can use to draft work schedules, track team hours, and communicate with employees from any device.

According to a UK survey, two-thirds of shift workers were given less than a week’s notice before a shift, limiting their flexibility. Working together with employees on business scheduling to set expectations within a reasonable timeframe develops trust and respect which can help to increase staff engagement.

Managers need to address each role to ensure it is effectively scheduled, but balance this with the needs of workers to cultivate a supportive and healthy culture. Businesses could consider holding team meetings where employees have a say in the scheduling process. Open communication helps reduce the risk of over-or under-scheduling employees, which helps to control costs, works to avoid unpleasant workplace interactions, boosts morale, and increases employee retention.

Investing in Suitable Software

Research indicates 76 per cent of employees want flexible working hours. The easiest way to manage this is to use software to help with potentially complex scheduling to enable effective flexible working arrangements.

Investing in the right tools and automating scheduling can also help track employee availability and reduce human errors, such as double booking. Flexibility for employees can be managed through software applications which can automatically reorganise schedules and find alternative shifts in case of an emergency.

The software’s generated data can also be evaluated to help businesses make better decisions. Noticing patterns and adjusting accordingly helps improve efficiency and can avoid over or under staffing mishaps.

Ongoing Evaluation

Leaders should regularly assess the effectiveness of their scheduling practices to ensure the process remains efficient. Collecting feedback from employees and monitoring key performance indicators like labour cost percentage and customer satisfaction can be crucial to help control costs in the long run.

Regular monitoring and evaluation allow areas for improvement to be identified and enables a business to adjust the scheduling process to make sure it is serving all stakeholder needs well and continues to contribute to business success. This includes gathering feedback, monitoring KPIs, and making data-driven changes.

Cost Control

Efficient employee scheduling can help control labour costs by reducing the need for temporary or additional staff and avoiding overtime expenses. By prioritising cost control in employee scheduling, SMEs can effectively manage labour expenses, enhance their profitability, and create a sustainable financial foundation for the organisation.

Closing Thoughts

Learning how to efficiently schedule employees should be recognised as an important way to improve productivity and achieve sustainable business growth. It is a vital aspect of running an SME successfully, allowing employees’ voices to be heard while using time effectively.

By combining the use of data and employee feedback from scheduling software, SMEs can transform their scheduling processes to improve operations, help drive growth and retain a motivated workforce.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024