This article was updated on July 26, 2018.
Traditionally, the task of scheduling employees according to set shifts, peak production cycles and business hours has fallen to management. So, the notion of employees and managers collaborating to schedule shifts may seem counterproductive. But with the advent of technology and progressively flexible work environments, managers and employees working together to set schedules may eventually become the new normal.
Self-Scheduling Has Value for Employees and Employers
Advances in cloud-based technology have given more and more employers the ability to offer employees the option to choose their hours. According to research conducted by the Families and Work Institute, when employees are given the opportunity to filter through schedule options or have flexible schedules, they experience much less stress at work. This, in turn, enables them to focus on productivity, essentially increasing engagement levels. Workers who are in more control of their schedules are absent from work less, experience greater job satisfaction and report a better work-life balance.
Although self-scheduling software gives employees the opportunity to request shifts or time off, management retains control over approving and overseeing the possible schedules.
Steps to Shift to Collaborative Scheduling
Rolling out shift sign-up and swapping features for employees involves careful evaluation of the organization's needs, followed by a series of steps to launch the effort.
Those steps could include
- Forming a committee of managers and employee leads to conduct research and meet with self-scheduling software vendors to determine the features needed for the organizational model
- Creating a small user group to evaluate and test the selected self-scheduling product's ability to meet organizational expectations — that includes cross-device testing
- Gathering feedback, making adjustments and launching the self-scheduling platform to the rest of the organization through focused employee education and training sessions; assigning a central contact person for administrative support to facilitate the process
- Providing ongoing support so that employees can review their schedules successfully and supervisors can approve schedule requests routinely
- Creating a revised, enterprise-wide scheduling policy that is widely publicized to employees, clearly stated in the employee handbook and introduced during employee onboarding processes
- Conducting regular workforce analysis to ensure that scheduled labor levels are consistent with organizational goals and growth objectives
Make the Transition a Positive Experience
It can be a significant process to move from management-driven scheduling to a collaborative self-scheduling, but with a careful strategy it's possible. It's critical to get management to buy in before launching the program, because moving to self-scheduling will affect the number of employees available in any given shift. HR leadership should work closely with management to ensure compliance standards are met and work-life balance for all employees is not negatively impacted.
Education is another large part of implementing a new time and labor management system, first starting with upper management and then filtering down through the supervisory and team leads. So when any issues arise, there will be a team of people ready to address and correct those problems quickly.
Over time, adopting a self-scheduling model can provide a bevy of enhancements for both employee and employer alike. It empowers employees to have an influence on what might be the best use of their time and helps the organization maximize productivity from its staff.