How to plan the perfect shift: a 3-minute guide

Shift planning is a major pain point for many businesses. Mistakes are common, and the consequences can be huge: under-staffing, poor productivity, even legal consequences if you’re lacking team members with the right skills and qualifications to start work.

It doesn’t have to be like this, however. With the right approach and good technology to run scheduling operations, you can transform workload planning into an easy task that empowers teams to work effectively day-in, day-out.

Sound good? Read on for some key considerations to help you plan the perfect shift...

Create a set structure for who needs to work

When you’re creating a schedule, there are two things that need to be optimised: the number of people working, and the seniority and skills of those people.

Assign too many people to a shift and you’re operating below optimal profit levels; under-staff that shift and productivity will be compromised, affecting customer service. Equally, you need to make sure the right mix of people are working to cover not only work demands, but meet compliance, regulation and health & safety requirements.

Achieving this balance is one of the biggest challenges of shift planning, but digital software is helping companies to schedule workload more effectively. Shift planning tools like WhosOffice enable you to set a minimum number of staff in order for the shift pattern to be approved. And WhosOffice even lets you customise those requirements by job type and qualifications.

Plan more than 7 days ahead

Demand-based planning is important to productivity, as your company needs to respond to activity levels. However, this shouldn’t stop you from planning ahead.

Long-range shift planning helps businesses to forecast staff availability based on commercial need, to optimise recruitment and shift allocation. Sharing forecast hours with staff can also improve the way they plan annual leave, so holiday requests don’t disrupt the schedule at the eleventh hour.

Good workforce management technology like WhosOffice allows you to plan ahead as far as you need – although the unfortunate truth is that some still operate in 7-day stints. Look for platforms that offer longer-term scheduling, but that also enable demand-based planning. This way, you can drop in an alternative pattern for one day or week as required, without interrupting the wider schedule.

Integrate annual leave into availability

Covering staff leave can be challenging at the best of times, but it becomes more complex when you’re operating in shifts. As we’ve already mentioned, short-term shift planning can throw in a late curve ball when you suddenly realise that someone is away.

The simplest way to avoid calendar clashes is to integrate annual leave with your scheduling, so you can see who’s off at any point in time. This prevents you mistakenly putting someone on the rota when they are off on holiday.

Some shift planning tools can support this process by allowing your team to manage their holiday entitlement through the same platform on which you plan their shifts. This way, all leave requests are logged in the same place, and automatically appear on the workload schedule – immediately flagging when you’ve allocated work to someone who is unavailable.

Share open opportunities as soon as they are available

Identifying a gap caused by annual leave is only solving part of the problem. To plan the perfect shift, you need to fill that gap with the right type of employee.

This is where all the shift planning elements we’ve discussed come together to create a seamless working process: you know how many staff are needed on the rota and what skills they need to possess; you’ve created shift patterns based on this knowledge and inputted them weeks or months ahead; and you can see where ‘usual’ staff availability falls short of requirements because people are on holiday; then can identify available shift opportunities quickly and accurately.

To make the call for staff even easier, some workforce management platforms have built-in messaging functions, which allow you to email a group of workers advertising open shift opportunities. They can respond quickly through the system, and when gaps are filled, details of who has been added to the rota will be automatically pulled through to your main schedule.

Plan the perfect shift every time with WhosOffice

With an organised approach and the right supporting software, it’s possible to change your attitude to shift planning from a complex, concerning part of your business to a solid, reliable foundation for success.

WhosOffice is a market-leading workforce management tool that enables businesses to plan the perfect shift every time. Every element of our platform is customisable to your needs, so you can create schedules that match your staffing requirements.

Additionally, WhosOffice integrates staff leave management tools and internal messaging features, so you can easily see where holiday is impacting schedules, and offer extra shifts to team members who still have availability. This way, you should never find yourself short staffed again.

Try WhosOffice for free to see how our shift planning technology can help your company to ease the burden of staff scheduling.

Photo by David Buchi from Pexels.com


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