How to Make a Work Schedule for Your Company


Are you tasked with creating a work schedule for your team? Then you are one of the most important people in your company. “Why?” you might ask.

You directly impact employee productivity and efficiency. This might sound terrifying, but you are responsible for helping workers juggle competing priorities, as they try to balance their wellbeing, family life, hobbies, and additional work.

If you’re agonizing over how to create an excellent work schedule, you’re not alone. New research shows that only 39 percent of employees at the 80 largest retail firms have consistent schedules.

Luckily for you, we’ve created a complete guide on how to make a work schedule for your employees. We also share why employee scheduling is important and the several types of work arrangements to pick from.

What Is a Work Schedule?

A work schedule, also known as a rooster or rota, refers to a list that contains the days and times an employee should be on the job. It can also consist of work locations and responsibilities during the period covered by the schedule.

Depending on the type of job, an employee’s work schedule target may be the standard, 40-hours-per-week, Monday through Friday. Or, it could vary on a daily, weekly, or seasonal basis. For certain businesses, it may require working on weekends, odd hours, or early mornings (think gyms and hospitals).

A poor work plan can destroy your worker’s satisfaction and turn their dream job into a nightmare. An effective work plan, on the other hand, will drive efficiency and result in happy employees, who, studies have shown, are 13 percent more productive.

Types of Work Schedules

Before you start creating a work schedule, it’s essential to know the different types that exist. This way, you’ll be in a better position to choose the best fit for your business.

If you’re facing challenges with your current work schedule, you could switch to a different one.

Some of the most common types of work schedules include:

  • Full-time. It involves working 40 hours per week. The time could be divided into five 8-hour days, four 10-hour days, or six 6.5-hour days. Ideally, you’ll be focusing on total time worked, not which days. This type of work schedule can be challenging when overtime is necessary.
  • Part-time. It involves working less than full-time hours. Unlike full-time, it’s less regular, and work hours can be inconsistent. This type gives employers and employees flexibility.
  • Fixed work. It involves an employee working a set of a specific and consistent number of hours each week. For example, working Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The point is for employees to stick to a regular set schedule.
  • Flexible work. It requires an employee to work a specific amount of time every week. The employer defines set hours they need the worker present but allows them to adjust the hours around according to how they see fit. This type of work regimen is ideal for businesses that don’t require employees to work together at the same time.
  • Rotating shift. Generally, shifts are common in businesses that operate more than 10 hours a day. In a rotating shift, workers cycle through day and night shifts weekly and sometimes even daily. The shift changes and not one employee is stuck on the same shift. This allows them to spend more time with family or on personal endeavors. The downside is that this work schedule can be hard on employees’ mental and physical well-being.

Other types of work schedules include:

  • Seasonal 
  • Overtime 
  • Compressed 
  • Shift-based 
  • Split 
  • On-call 

Why Is Employee Work Scheduling Important?

Research by TSheets shows that over 50 percent of employers said they spend at least two hours per week building their employee’s schedules. Clearly, getting the employee work schedule correct is a fundamental piece that holds together the entire business operations.

Let’s get right into the importance of work schedules:

Work scheduling ensures work efficiency

When you outline each team member’s expectations throughout a workday, they understand their work hours and responsibilities better. This reduces employee confusion and places them in a suitable position to maximize their productivity.

Work scheduling improves work planning

Creating a work plan makes you more organized. It means you can plan as best as possible for the unexpected, like when an employee misses a shift. A plan helps you be more prepared by staying on top of employee attendance and requests for PTO.

Good scheduling boosts time management practices

Time is money and every minute lost translates to money lost. When you create the perfect work schedule, you can maintain proper time management and increase the efficiency of operations.

Moreover, a work agenda helps you organize your employee workload better, hence, preventing burnout and boosting productivity.

In addition, proper scheduling promotes shift transparency. Often, cases of favoritism in the workplace can reduce workers’ morale. When you create a work regimen, shifts become visible to everyone on the team. Team members can see how tasks are assigned and feel satisfied that no one is getting the best shifts or tasks time and time again.

Work scheduling helps improve employees’ work-life balance

When everyone knows what their workday or week looks like, they will be able to plan their personal time more conveniently. They get more control over their time, a fact that can help boost a healthy work-life balance and lower the workers’ stress levels.

Work scheduling increases the quality of service

A company that relies on an organized work schedule enjoys a smooth workflow and better customer/client satisfaction. The quality of service will not only be consistent, but clients can also always know when to expect results.

Proper scheduling ensures legal compliance

The right work schedule helps you comply with legal requirements. Whether you have full-time or hourly employees, scheduling ensures that each worker gets the appropriate number of hours every week.

How to Make a Work Schedule for Employees

Clearly, scheduling your employees’ workday is valuable to your business. So, you’d want to get it right the first time. Here’s a strategy to help you create a work schedule that will drive your employees toward getting the most done.

Determine Your Scheduling Needs

Planning is everything when creating an employee work schedule. You first need to determine and specify the requirements of your business. Some of the questions to ask yourself include:

  • What labor resources do you need to meet your operation goals?
  • How many hours can you afford to pay employees each week?
  • How many hours do you operate?
  • What are the limitations of your team, i.e., the maximum number of shifts, days they aren’t available to work, etc.?
  • What responsibilities need to be performed during each shift?

Ideally, you want to create a framework that you’ll use to build your work agenda. Once you’ve figured out your staffing needs, only then can you start filling in your shifts.

Create an Availability Chart

Availability charts indicate the work assignment of each employee, as well as the hours in a working day they are occupied and free. Such charts make it easy to track who is available for work.

This can prove valuable when trying to quickly find a substitute in case of any unexpected changes to the work regimen, such as family emergencies. Knowing the availability (or unavailability) of specific workers enables you to instantly know who to call to keep operations running.

An availability chart allows you to create a stand-by list of dependable part-time workers willing to take on overtime deals. This helps minimize disruption to the work process.

Just be sure to have prior agreements with these employees. No one wants to have their evening plans ruined by a sudden demand to come to work – plus, it may not be legal to do so.

Understand Local, State, and Federal Labor Laws

Keep in mind that the local, state, and federal employment laws will affect your employee schedule. It’s, therefore, crucial to create a work regimen that follows the rules and regulations.

There are certain laws covering required breaks, overtime scheduling and pay, time clock, and holidays. In addition, Predictive Scheduling Laws in some states require employers to pay a predictive scheduling penalty when they change an employee’s schedule without the required amount of advance notice.

Researching these laws can save you from expensive fines and legal action.

Understand Your Employees Needs

An employee regimen serves two purposes: to keep the business running smoothly and your employees happy. One way to ensure your worker’s happiness is to understand what type of schedule is the best fit for them.

The success of your business isn’t just about having enough people during a shift. It’s also about having the right people. So, the more you know about your employees’ strengths and experience, the greater your ability to pick one work schedule over another.

Each team member has unique skills, and as a manager, you need to be aware of where each person will excel. In addition, knowing how your team functions allows you to set up a well-rounded schedule.

To simplify this process, consider including the following items on your list:

  • The worker’s name
  • Their relevant skills and certifications
  • Personality type (introvert, extrovert, friendly, talkative, etc.)
  • Full-time or part-time basis
  • Work hours limitations
  • Additional notes that you find useful (for example, knows how to handle customers/clients, works efficiently, etc.)

Allocate Tasks to the Most Appropriate Team Members

Once you’ve profiled all your employees, it becomes easier to find the right person for each task or project. You won’t have to guess or rely on your gut feeling but rather use facts to assign tasks.

With this information, you can schedule your most experienced and reliable team members first, and build shifts around their availability. Starting with your star employees has its advantages. For starters, these are people other employees go to when they need guidance or have a question.

If you put less-experienced employees first, they won’t be able to keep things under control, and it can lead to confusion and work inefficiencies.

Involve Employees in the Process

According to a study published by Scientific American, diversity can promote better decision-making. Additionally, research published by ResearchGate concluded that employee involvement in decision-making impacts positively on the workers’ performance and commitment.

On top of that, involving teams in decision-making increases employee engagement and improves collaboration. It also gives you buy-in from the people who need to implement the process.

You can involve your teams in the work scheduling process by:

  • Holding one-on-ones to understand everyone’s preferences. Doing so ensures you meet their demands.
  • Sending out surveys or polls to learn about things like the best time of day and weekday to share work schedules.
  • Allowing them to swap shifts themselves.

Keep in mind that your team members’ lives revolve around their schedules. Therefore, they will appreciate being allowed to share their input regarding their work arrangements.

Establish an Effective Communication Method

A report by CMSWire indicates that 97 percent of employees believe communication positively impacts task efficacy. Another research by McKinsey found that effective communication and collaboration boost productivity by 20-25 percent.

Regardless of your industry, good communication can mean all the difference between having enough personnel to cover a shift and being short-staffed. The best practice is to establish team-wide and company-wide communication channels that make it easy for you and your employees to access the work schedule.

If you’re using email, the work schedule risks getting lost among the many emails employees receive daily. Not to mention time wasted combing through dozens of emails searching for the schedule. The same goes for instant messaging apps.

Choose your communication channel carefully and ensure everyone uses the same tool for internal company communications.

Evaluate and Review the Performance of Your Scheduling Regularly

It’s good practice to audit the performance of your employee’s work schedule regularly. We live in a rapidly evolving world, and the staff schedule that worked last week might not work this week.

Scheduling is the kind of job that’s always ongoing. So, you’ll need to review your work regimen often to ensure it reflects the latest information affecting your business operations.

For example, if your work hours are extended because there’s a big holiday sale coming up, you need to account for that in the schedule.

Analyze Data and Previous Schedules

Past data can help you formulate a better schedule, besides revealing what works and what doesn’t. But where do you get such data? By using technology to track time and attendance.

Over time, a time tracking app will provide insightful data about your employees’ attendance and work patterns. This will draw a clearer picture of certain things like:

  • How often do employees have to switch shifts?
  • Who likes working in the mornings, and who prefers evening shifts?
  • Who always takes up extra shifts?

You can then create a better, more accurate work regimen. Additionally, when you record an employee’s time, you can easily track overtime hours and make the necessary adjustments to stay within your wage budget.

Simplify the Process Using Scheduling Software

Nowadays, technology offers a much more efficient way for managers to organize their employees. Staff scheduling software comes in handy since they are easily adaptable to your business model. They also make the process more streamlined, given the constant changes caused by unforeseen events.

And now with cloud computing becoming widely available, services like Google Docs make the process even simpler. Just be sure to do proper research before investing in employee scheduling software.

What Makes a Perfect Employee Work Schedule?

Use these tips to create work arrangements that fit you and your teams:

  • Post the work schedule in advance. Nothing disrupts an employee’s time like last-minute scheduling. This not only causes inconvenience on the team member’s part but also affects their performance.
  • Keep scheduling predictable. Setting unpredictable or irregular work schedules won’t work in your favor. You’ll be making it extremely difficult for your employees to maintain any semblance of order in their personal lives.
  • Use only one version of the work schedule. To avoid confusion, create and stick to only one version of the work schedule. Sending multiple versions (accidentally or not) can cause inconvenience and a drop in performance.
  • Avoid double-scheduling employees. Ensure no employee is scheduled twice for the same slot. Otherwise, it will lead to confusion, time waste, and reduced morale.
  • Avoid schedule micromanagement. The sole reason for creating a work regimen is so that employees can control how they work and get work done within a specific time frame. Let them take ownership over how they manage their own time. Allow co-workers to trade shifts within themselves and save yourself countless hours adjusting and updating the regimen. Just monitor such trades carefully so that you don’t end up with an unqualified person in one of the positions.
  • Create a policy. Outline, clearly, what employees can, should, and cannot do. This includes expectations and requirements on how to handle special scheduling requests, shift swaps, holidays, excessive overtime, and so on.

Wrapping Up How to Create Work Schedule for Your Company

Creating an employee work schedule doesn’t have to be an uphill task. Consider leveraging technology to make the process simple and seamless.

Remember to encourage your teams to track their work hours so you can collect data about their work habits. Doing so will enable you to build a more precise work schedule that everyone will love.

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