How to Schedule and Collaborate to End the Chaos

Empowering employees to collaborate on scheduling by taking more responsibility for shift swaps, picking up extra shifts and vacation time dramatically lowers the administrative burden on managers. So how do you get to collaboration?

For generations of workers, scheduling was usually something that was done for them. Or even to them. But very rarely was it with them.

Collaboration was not even part of the conversation – much less the scheduling process.

Schedules were regularly maintained on precious pieces of paper by a closed circle of managers who would look at the shifts the company needed to fill and the skills/experience required, and then handwrite or type in the names of the workers who would fill those shifts.

Once the schedule was set, woe be to anyone who wanted to change it. If your child was the lead in the school play, a close relative fell ill or you had an old friend coming into town you hadn’t seen in years, you could fill out and submit the necessary paperwork to request a shift change. But whether it was approved was in the hands of the keepers of the schedule—not yours, and not your co-workers. Their decision to approve or reject your request was largely based on whether they could find someone else’s name to write in on the piece of paper after they scratched yours off.

The process was certainly no picnic in the park for the managers and HR staff, either. Finding a replacement was accomplished by pulling out the “call list” with all employees’ home phone numbers and dialing one number after another to see if someone—anyone—would agree to fill the shift.

The same was usually true for employees who wanted to pick up extra shifts or change their scheduled vacation time. It involved a lot of paperwork, frustration and uncertainty for employees, and a lot of time, effort and headaches for the managers and staff in HR. In addition, any complex workforce management situations involving regulatory or union rules, certification, or other unique requirements or limitations, any change could turn into an administrative nightmare.

The Fundamental Flaw

With the dawning of the computer age came Excel spreadsheets and other similar programs that allowed many companies to move to digital scheduling. It marked a major improvement in many ways but failed to address the fundamental flaw in the scheduling process: It remained a strictly collaboration-free zone.

The process still consumed much, if not most, of managers’ time who still had to make calls or send emails to facilitate shift swapping, approving additional shifts or vacation time updates.

Within the past two decades, companies have increasingly realized that scheduling and collaboration are actually two sides of the same coin. Employees should be an integral part of the solution because scheduling works best when workers are empowered to collaborate by having a say on their shifts and vacations. This benefits both the employee and the manger by freeing up time and allowing them to focus on higher priorities.

And to accomplish this silver lining, all it took was the cloud.

Ahead in the Cloud

Cloud-based technology has revolutionized scheduling by making it possible for employees to collaborate on certain aspects of scheduling without the help of a manager. Research has shown that workers with scheduling flexibility experience less work-related stress and higher levels of work-life balance—linking to higher productivity.

Far too many managers are still wasting ample time and effort handling shift swaps, requests for extra shifts and vacation changes.

There are a number of scheduling software options on the market today that are considered a huge improvement from the days of pen and paper and even digital spreadsheets. So what should you look for when deciding on a workforce management solution that’s right for your company’s needs?

Here are a few things to consider. Scheduling software should:

  • Create schedules that automatically factor in complex components, including expected labor demand, employee skills and qualifications, availabilities, turnover, location-specific needs, absence management, emergent substitution management and organizational policy;
  • Give employees the freedom to swap or trade shifts based on any set of business rules;
  • Support schedule, shift and vacation bidding, as well as any number of custom bidding capabilities to allocate work, vacations, job reassignments, promotions, vacancies and more;
  • Automatically audit all leave requests against existing schedules and ensure conflicts are resolved before a leave can be approved;
  • Be configurable to the specific needs of the client – regardless of number of employees, locations or level of workforce complexity;
  • Integrate with human resources platforms, financial or payroll systems, labor demand databases and more.

For a software solution that delivers all that and much more, check out ScheduleSource’s TeamWork. This dynamic workforce management system captures all the changes in real time as schedules, shifts, bids, employee actions and time entries occur. It enables you to handle everything with ease – from recruiting and onboarding to time clocks and leave requests—and everything in between.

Turn Chaos into Collaboration

See for yourself what ScheduleSource’s TeamWork can do for your company. Schedule a live demo today!

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