More companies are adopting shift working to manage their round-the-clock workload. Such roles are especially helpful if you need an active employee on the job at all hours of the day. In this role, employees have a work schedule that may be rotating across the hours— the first 3 days would be 10am to 7pm and the next 3 days would be 7pm to 3am. However, shift planning is no small feat.
HRs often make small mistakes when planning shift schedules which cause lower productivity for their shift employees. We’re highlighting the 18 mistakes you must avoid when shift planning to help you create efficient shift schedules.
Further Reading: This guide to shift management is all you need when planning shifts.
8 Mistakes to Avoid When Shift Planning to Create Productive Schedules
1. Long shifts
Long shifts may sound like they are more efficient. You’d assume that employees would perform their best since they are in the momentum. However, this may be causing more trouble. Long shorts may make your employee zone out and lower the quality of work they do.
A good tip when shift planning to break your employees’ shifts into two 4-hour shifts. This break can help your employee energize and come back to the desk with more energy.
2. No advanced planning
In many companies, shift schedules are sent out a day in advance, making it hard for employees to plan ahead. Your shift schedules must be created 2 weeks in advance so that your shift employees have enough time to prepare for their shifts and manage their future commitments better. Your employees have a life outside of work and you need to respect that by giving them a detailed understanding of their work schedule beforehand and not springing it on them a day prior.
Advanced planning can also help you tweak the schedule you’ve created, based on any blockers in your employees’ schedules. This way, you can ensure your shifts are running smoothly.
3. Using spreadsheets to track shifts
Many shift schedules are often tracked within spreadsheets. This system doesn’t make customization easy and makes it harder to change shifts on the go. A spreadsheet doesn’t provide a visual view of shifts.
This is why we strongly suggest enabling a visual shift planning dashboard, like AttendanceBot. With this dashboard, you can plan shifts with the drag-and-drop feature, moving around shift blocks with ease. Shifts can be replicated across different days. The bot works within Slack as well so that you can make changes to shifts as you need.
4. Not measuring schedule efficiency
A large part of shift management is monitoring how employees are performing during their shift hours. This is especially important if your employees work on rotating shifts. You can look at how they perform during different shift sets to pinpoint which shift hours they are most productive.
Measuring schedule efficiency can be done by comparing their shift schedule dashboard to their work dashboard. For instance, if your shift workers do customer support, you could compare how their customer support ratings and chats were in comparison to their shift hours. You’ll find that they perform better at certain hours. This may also be because of the quality of traffic on your website. Use this historical data to plan your future shift schedules better.
5. Failing to double up during peak hours
Many HRs fail to increase their shift employees during their peak hours. For customer support, this means that few of your customers get delayed responses and you are likely to lose out on good business due to this oversight.
Identify peak hours during your shift schedules and check in with employees during those hours to see if they need an extra hand to manage the workload. You can either provide overtime for the second shift employee or set up the second shift as a norm for your shift employees without needing them to work overtime.
6. Manually checking in with shift workers
Manually checking in with your shift workers is just not a scalable solution. While it does keep them accountable, you can’t be available during every shift employee’s work hours to message them, reminding them about their shift and asking if they are working.
You need to automate this shift tracking. Set up AttendanceBot to make reminders and shift check-ins seamless. The bot runs within Slack so that your employees can look up their shift schedules without referring to an external dashboard. It reminds your shift employees about their upcoming shift.
When they do start their shift, the employee just needs to send a message “in” and the bot records their actual working hours. As HR, you can then compare this to their shift schedule to ensure they are starting work on time.
7. Lack of backup shift workers
When shift planning, you must have backup shift employees who can pick up the workload if the assigned employee drops out. A backup shift employee allows you to keep the work moving and avoid hours of inactivity on your end.
You can’t avoid your employee having an emergency but you can prepare yourself for it with a backup shift employee to spring into work if the worst does happen.
8. No review system for shift workers
Constantly reviewing your shift workers is crucial to ensure they are satisfied and at the top of their performance. Set up monthly reviews with your shift employees to understand their challenges, needs, and expectations. You can learn whether their shift hours are working for them, what problems they face with their hours, what’s causing any issues they have, etc.
This monthly check-in can help you plan shifts keeping in mind the employee’s preferences and provide them support as required. Knowing your company cares is sure to boost employee morale and make them want to perform better for the company.
Is Your Shift Planning Smarter?
We hope highlighting these 8 common mistakes helps you plan shift schedules in a manner that takes into account your employee’s needs and their historical performance. Shift planning is a crucial foundation for better output by your shift employees.