Shift management: challenges and best practices
What is shift management?
Shift management is the process of rostering hourly employees and ensuring adequate staffing. It may also require knowledge of labour laws that define:
maximum daily and weekly working hours
how managers must communicate roster changes
terms of rest and meal breaks.
What are the challenges of shift management?
Accurately predicting staffing needs
Managers need to strike a balance between rostering enough employees to serve customers without over-staffing and undermining profits. However, demand can be hard to predict.
For example: A tavern manager expects a large crowd on Saturday night and rosters 2 bartenders, 6 cooks and 4 servers. But unexpected bad weather keeps many customers at home. As a result, the tavern is paying 12 employees for a full evening’s work when 6 employees would’ve been adequate.
Manual rostering can be a time-consuming process. If a business isn't using shift management software, they’re probably using Excel spreadsheets or some other calendar system to plan rosters and either emailing them or making them available for the team to view. However, rosters may need to be changed several times if the manager doesn't have visibility of the shift worker’s availability.
For example: A retail manager is creating a roster 2 weeks in advance. The employee who regularly works 5pm to close will be on holiday for 3 days that week. The manager rosters another employee for those shifts, not realising that employee takes classes at university those evenings.
Covering unplanned absences
Many businesses don’t have a process for covering a shift when an employee calls in sick. That can leave managers scrambling to find an available employee with the right skills to carry out the work. Not having the right capability or capacity rostered on can increase a business’ workplace health and safety risk, while also negatively impacting customer service.
Combining the right people
While you need staff with the right skills to work the shift, it’s also important to make sure you’re not breaching any Award or collective employment agreement around time off between shifts or other working conditions. When creating the roster manually, you may lack the visibility you need to keep track of availability and avoid any compliance breaches.
Best practices for shift management
Try to roster employees for the same shifts each week. A consistent roster helps employees plan their lives around their work, and also reduces the risk of no-shows that can occur with unpredictable schedules.
Understand employee commitments
Ask employees about their personal obligations — like education, childcare or a second job — so you don’t inadvertently roster them for shifts they can’t work.
Develop a system for swapping and covering shifts
Empowering employees to trade shifts, where necessary, can help lighten your administrative load. You may, however, want to create some rules around shift swapping so you always have people with the right skills, certifications and experience rostered on.
Use shift management software
Shift management software makes it easy to create rosters. You can plug in everyone’s role, level and availability and use the software to create and publish rosters. Some shift management platforms also enable real-time notifications via a mobile app when shifts are published, changed or someone needs to swap a shift. Workers may also be able to clock in or clock out of their shifts via their mobile app.
Review your data
If you’re using shift management software, you can get data insights that'll help you get your resourcing right to maximise profitability. For example, a workforce management solution may allow you to:
Monitor the efficiency of labour costs to sales
Compare the actual cost of the shift to the budget
View total costs across shifts or for specific employees
View the variance between budgeted and actual labour costs and hours
This type of information can help you further improve business efficiency.
An integrated solution with MYOB
With MYOB Advanced Workforce Management, you can take care of your shift management alongside your employee onboarding, timesheeting and payroll requirements. By bringing these critical workflows together, you can:
Gain visibility of your workforce for scheduling, tracking and reporting
Maintain compliance with labour laws and enterprise agreements
Improve your employee experience
Increase efficiency in core business processes
Help your business achieve its potential
Find out more. Contact a solution consultant today.