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How to Make a Schedule for Employees: Best Practices for Busy Teams

May 12, 2021
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If you’re spending countless hours scheduling and suffering from sleepless nights because of it, you probably need to rethink your employee scheduling techniques.

Whether you’re in the transition period of hiring your very first employee or if you’re adding a few more team members to your growing team, you need to know how to make an employee work schedule that is efficient, effective, and repeatable.

The right schedule for employees will reduce the chances of double booking and employee turnover, and it will make your business look more professional to customers.

Here are the scheduling basics for how to make a schedule for employees.

How to make a work schedule

1. Determine your business needs

Before you create your employee schedule, think carefully about what your business really needs. Are you looking for someone to just do the work? Or do you need more of a partner to work alongside you in your day to day operations?

Read on for more ways to determine your business needs when you create an employee schedule.

Write down what’s working (or not) with your schedule

Cross-examine your schedule and ask yourself the following questions to help you figure out how your labor scheduling can be more efficient:

  1. What are your busiest hours?
  2. How long does it typically take you or your team to get from job to job?
  3. What’s the shortest amount of time a job can take?
  4. What’s the longest amount of time a job can take?

If you’re working with pen and paper like many home service businesses, this will be fairly tricky to cross-examine. When you use field service scheduling software like Jobber you can see at a glance what your schedule looks like and filter through the answers to these questions.

You can also see how long it takes you to get from job to job with GPS tracking and keep track of time spent on each job with the time tracking feature.

READ MORE: The Home Edit shares 22 tips for organizing your business

Predict your future sales

Another way to determine your business needs is to predict how your sales will progress in the coming months.

Sales forecasts typically depend on sales from the same time period during previous years. But, if your business is relatively new, you might not have the track record to refer to the sales generated during previous years.

If this is the case, you need to ask yourself a few questions. When you answer, consider factors like weather, the economy, your competition, etc.

  • What motivates your customers to request your services?
  • Do you experience sales swings during specific times of the year?
  • What skills do you need to address business demands?
  • Do you have enough people to cover every needed position?

Having good business insights is going to help you create an effective schedule and grow an efficient business.

2. Gauge how much labor you’ll need

Once you’ve determined your business needs, you can match that to how much labor you’ll need. Make sure to consider:

Your employees’ availability

First, you need to understand what type of employee is right for the job based on their availability.

You may have an employee that can’t work evenings or weekends because they need to be at home with their children. But, you often have evening appointments so you need to figure out if you can make that work.

Knowing when your employees can’t work, because of personal commitments outside of work like childcare, will let you schedule the right people, on the right days.

READ MORE: What is a virtual assistant and how can they help your business?

Certifications and training

Employee capacity can be any training or certifications required for certain work. If you’re a plumber and you need another licensed plumber on a certain job with you, you may need to readjust your scheduling expectations.

If this is applicable to your business, keep a list handy of your certified, licensed, or specially trained employees so you know who to turn to for certain jobs.

3. Follow labor scheduling rules and regulations

While you create your schedule, you need to be certain that you’re following local laws and regulations.

There are state, federal, and local laws that dictate employee break allowances, holiday time, and overtime restrictions. You’ll also need to keep fatigue guidelines in mind and possible union rules. If an office manager is in charge of scheduling, they should also be trained on local, applicable rules and create schedules accordingly.

4. Manage employee scheduling changes

Scheduling your employees isn’t something you set and forget — things change quickly when you run a business. While you can optimize your employee scheduling practices, it still needs to be monitored.

Prepare for availability changes

Employee schedule changes are inevitable when you run a service business. From illness to family emergencies, there are many reasons why employees might have to change their availability or cancel a shift. It’s frustrating, stressful, and it leaves you shorthanded.

But because it’s impossible to completely avoid, you have to prepare for these changes and be aware that it’s going to happen. What matters the most is how you troubleshoot those issues.

Keep a list of available employees

Keep track of employee availability so that you know when not to schedule them. Keep a list handy of what employees you can count on for certain hours of the day (early mornings, late nights, on-call employees). This will help you when you find yourself in a situation where you need a backup employee, fast.

5. Level-up staff scheduling with software

Using pen and paper to create your work schedule is less exact and relies more on a feeling. But when you use field service scheduling software like Jobber to see when you’re busiest, creating an online work schedule is more manageable.

With Jobber you can:

  • Get a quick view of when your employees are assigned to a job
  • Easily assign or reassign work with the drag and drop calendar
  • Color code your calendar and assign calendar colors to certain users, or tasks that have keywords in the title
  • Compare team members’ schedules with team view to view side-by-side availability

Staff scheduling basics and best practices

1. Clearly communicate the logic behind your employee work schedule

The best advice we can give about employee scheduling is to be upfront and transparent in your communication with your team members from the start.

If hours are long and you’re hesitant to be completely upfront about it, there’s going to be a disconnect between expectations. This will eventually lead to dreaded scheduling issues.

To avoid this, communicate clearly with your team about what you need, what the job entails, and why you’re making certain scheduling decisions. For example, if you need all hands on deck during your busiest time of year and you’ve increased employee hours, let your employees know why. Your transparency will be appreciated and it’ll relieve any concerns they may have.

2. Match the employee to the job with proper training

A strong employee schedule puts employees in jobs that match their skill levels and experience.

Scheduling training and shadowing of senior employees is an investment worth making to ensure that more of your employees are capable of a breadth of work, making future scheduling easier for you.

3. Publish the schedule 2-3 weeks in advance

Most service businesses publish the work schedule two to three weeks in advance. This gives employees time to make necessary arrangements like changing their shift if they’re unavailable.

When you publish your schedule is also dependent on your industry. Residential cleaners and commercial cleaners have recurring jobs so it would make sense if they posted their schedule weeks in advance. Pest control, on the other hand, works with more one-off jobs so labor scheduling may be handled on a week-to-week basis.

4. Give employees easy access to their schedule

Email or a shared online document such as a Google spreadsheet works, or you can use software such as Jobber to give employees access to their schedules from the mobile app. When you use scheduling software, your employees will get a push notification whenever a change is made.

Sharing your schedule digitally makes it possible for employees to get access immediately and make any necessary changes. It also means you don’t have to post it up in your office, increasing the chances of employees missing it and not showing up for a scheduled shift.

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