In most companies, shift planning is a ‘necessary evil’. You need to make sure the right people are in the right place, at the right time, but coordinating staff schedules takes more effort and energy than you want – and even then, it’s not always accurate.

Instead of putting up with cumbersome processes in 2020, WhosOffice is urging businesses to see the new year as a fresh start, and an opportunity to revamp the way you manage staff shifts. To help you get started, here are 6 ways to ensure simple shift planning in the year ahead.

 1. Gain full visibility of all employee movements

One of the biggest challenges that companies face – particularly large enterprises – is gaining an accurate overview of exactly who is on shift at any point in time. While every team or department might have a well-worn scheduling system, these are often not the same, and therefore data can’t be integrated easily across your organisation.

The simplest way to get full visibility of all employee movements in 2020 is to plan shifts using digital software. Team leaders can still set up the system in their preferred manner, but all information is centrally coordinated for holistic shift planning.

 2. Set shift pattern codes for each type of contract

Shift planning takes a lot of time because, more often than not, employees aren’t on standardised contracts. You may well be balancing full-time staff with part-time workers, who are only available for a certain number of hours or days.

Rather than calculating all permutations manually, you can cut the time it takes to manage schedules in 2020 by using shift planning software to pre-set pattern codes for different shift types. Codes can be duplicated for employees on the same contract type, to ensure that every member of staff is given an appropriate timetable.

 3. Make sure each employee has the right number of hours

On the subject of contract types, with so many variables, it’s easy for people to be accidentally under-allocated or oversubscribed hours when you’re manually planning staff rotas.

A good shift planning platform will calculate how much time each employee has been given, and it will flag up errors before schedules are circulated. This will reduce the number of complaints and queries your managers receive, and ensure smooth-running shifts every day.

 4. Plan shifts based on a real picture of staff availability

Shift planning is challenging enough when staff are working their contract hours, but often, some employees will be on annual leave when you’re compiling the schedule.

Rather than cross-checking staff rotas with the holiday calendar, invest in shift planning software that can manage both tasks through one platform. This way, holiday bookings will be recorded on the same system as schedules are set, and you’ll be notified if you try to roster someone who has booked time off.

 5. Find time-saving ways to simplify shift planning

We’ve already touched on some of the ways in which online software can make it easier to plan shifts – from pre-setting pattern codes for each type of contract, to integrating valuable data such as contract limits and annual leave with your online schedule.

While these things might seem like nice ‘add-ons’, they actually save significant time across the year, when you look at how streamlined the process has become.

If you’re considering shift planning software this year, look at what extra features each platform you are reviewing offers, and choose a solution that will offer multiple shortcuts to reduce the administration demands placed on your team leaders.

 6. Share schedules online so everyone knows when they are required

Creating accurate rosters is only half the battle won; for smooth-running shifts, every team member needs to know when they are required.

Your 2020 shift planning software should ideally include communications features, so you can alert staff when a new shift has been published. This will also enable personnel to access their rota at any time, to double check when they’re needed, and who else will be working.

It’s worth looking at platforms that enable two-way communications between team leaders and general employees, as this creates new possibilities. For example, you can advertise open shift opportunities and allowing staff to respond online, giving them the chance to earn overtime – either further paid work, or extra shifts that can be used later as time off in lieu, to boost leave entitlement.

Simplify shift planning in 2020 with WhosOffice online software

The quickest, easiest way to make scheduling simpler and more accurate this year is to invest in online shift planning software like WhosOffice.

We’re already helping companies from a diverse range of industries – including retail, hospitality, education, healthcare and not-for-profit – to spend less time putting rotas together, with a much better user experience.

Try WhosOffice for free to see how much time and effort your business will save.

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov of