These days, work schedules are as diverse as they come. And for shift workers, knowing their schedules ahead of time can quite literally make or break a business. Enter: shift work scheduling software.
Shift teams are particularly common for businesses that operate around the clock, like manufacturing, hospitality, transportation, and hospitals. So, if you don’t get the shift schedule quite right, you risk being understaffed or running into some operational bottlenecks.
To stay as organized as possible, these businesses set up their employee work schedules around shifts. For example, the first shift may run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. And, the night shift would cover 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
The benefit to shift work is there is always someone on hand to ensure things are running smoothly. However, a major pitfall to this particular schedule is that employees don’t always know ahead of time when they’re expected into work. Or, they need to find someone to cover their shift in a pinch if something personal comes up.
These situations are particularly painful when the business is still physically posting schedules on a break room bulletin board somewhere. You can imagine how time-consuming it can be to update a physical schedule when one employee changes shifts – much less five employees.
This is why more and more businesses are using shift scheduling apps for online shift scheduling capabilities. It gives managers a seamless way to create, communicate, and update schedules on a regular basis. And employees have a reliable way to check in on when they need to be at work next.
Curious to learn more? You’ve come to the right place! Here’s everything you need to know about shift scheduling software and your next must-have employee app feature.
Shift Management: What is Shift Scheduling Software?
Let’s start at the beginning. What is shift scheduling software?
Shift scheduling software is an online tool to help businesses create, organize, and manage employee schedules. The tool is usually in the form of a mobile platform where employees can access the shift schedules without a company email address.
This technology is essential for planning shifts quickly and efficiently, especially for frontline workers. Employee scheduling software is also helpful for communicating shift changes instantly to the employees that need to know.
Beekeeper’s Shift Schedule feature makes it easier for frontline employees to swap shifts and update their availability. Members of shift teams can simply contact their managers directly through the app to request approval for shift coverage or last-minute schedule changes.
Why Shift Scheduling Software for Workforce Management?
When it comes to shift work scheduling, you may wonder what the advantage is to using a digital tool. To start, it enables more efficient workforce management practices.
The purpose of shift work scheduling technology is to make the lives of your shift managers and employees easier. Picture this: a manager that’s just completed their shift just now sits down to make the shift schedule for next week. It’s Sunday night, and the first shift starts at 5 AM Monday morning.
Can you see why this would be frustrating? The employees expected to come in the next morning are hanging in the lurch until the very last minute.
Unfortunately, this situation happens all too often. But with a shift scheduling app, shift teams can adopt better workforce management practices. Like, planning ahead.
Companies benefit from reduced absenteeism, as managers are now able to ensure coverage for every shift. Also, these tools enable clear communication and a streamlined scheduling process. So, what was once a time-consuming process of creating, printing, and updating schedules in the break room is now done in mere minutes. And, it’s available right on employees’ mobile devices.
Here are a few other reasons why shift schedule software benefits workforce management:
- Save time updating frontline workers about shift changes or answering schedule questions
- Distribute shift schedules and updates more efficiently
- Minimize confusion over schedule changes
- Increase productivity
Last-minute schedule changes happen on a daily basis (especially in the service industry). Employees get sick, swap shifts at the last minute without approval, write down the wrong start times, etc. The list of possible complications that come with printed schedules is endless.
Frontline employees often have to call their workplace the night before their shift to ask the person working on the floor to go back and check the printed schedule for them, so they know what time to come in the next day. This is because weekly employee shift schedules change so often that it’s difficult to know which is the correct version. Extra steps like these are extremely time-consuming and frustrating for staff.
There has to be a better way! Fortunately, with Shift Schedules, now there is.
Your Solution: Beekeeper Shift Schedules
As the go-to mobile communications tool for frontline employees, Beekeeper’s Shift Schedules tool allows shift managers to share employees’ schedules with every member of their team no matter where they are via the Beekeeper app. This will allow hourly shift workers to easily check the most updated schedules whenever and wherever they want and stay informed about their upcoming shifts or changes to shifts.
Shift managers can upload an Excel shift schedule to Beekeeper. Or you can connect Beekeeper to your existing online Shift Scheduling tool via our Shifts API to make sure your frontline workforce is always up-to-date on their schedule. It’s the ultimate tool for scheduling shift teams!
Now, frontline workers can have instant access to their work schedules right at their fingertips. No more standing in front of dusty bulletin boards desperately searching for a faded, printed schedule that’s probably already outdated anyways.
With Beekeeper’s new Shift Schedules feature, frontline workers can enjoy greater autonomy with instant access to a user-friendly, personalized work schedule right from their mobile device. Frontline workers will have access to all the information they need without having to sort through rows of hard-to-read data on a company-wide printed schedule.
What Are the User Benefits of Beekeeper’s Shift Schedules?
With Beekeeper’s Shift Schedules feature, everything happens in real-time – right in the employee scheduling app. Managers can quickly approve shift changes, and employees can trust they’re viewing the correct version of their schedule.
But that’s not all. Here are a few other user benefits.
Frontline employees can:
- Instantly check their schedules directly on their mobile device
- See when they’re working either through a calendar view or list view
- Receive push notifications for when new shifts are added and when changes to existing shifts are made
- See important shift details like the shift title/code, color, date, start time, and end time of their shift
- View the duration of their shift
- Request a shift change directly in the mobile app
Shift managers can:
- Centralize all shift communication in one easy-to-use platform. No more desperate, last-minute emails from employees trying to get their shift covered!
- Save hours of time each week by streamlining shift communication
- Increase efficiency by bulk uploading shift schedules in Excel directly into Beekeeper
Why Shift Schedules Matter More Than You Think
Not only does Beekeeper’s new Shift Schedules feature make life easier for shift managers, but it can actually improve the quality of life for your hourly (often frontline) workers.
According to a Fast Company study, a lack of stability in an employee’s work schedule can negatively impact their sleep and even their overall happiness.
- 16% of respondents reported that they receive their work schedules with less than a few days notice. Imagine it’s 8:00 on a Sunday night, and all of a sudden, you get an email saying you have to open at 5:30 the next morning. Finding out at the last minute that you have to work in a few hours is incredibly stressful — yet this is a reality for many hourly workers.
- 12% of respondents reported that they’ve had shifts unexpectedly canceled at the last minute. For someone who may live paycheck to paycheck, this unwelcome day off could seriously impact their financial stability.
- 45% of respondents reported feeling distressed. I mean, can you blame them?!
The study also found that even small improvements in schedule stability can alleviate many of these problems. Simply sharing employee schedules two weeks in advance was strongly associated with the chance that more workers would feel happy in their jobs.
The good news is that with a little planning and preparation, managing shift schedules for hourly employees doesn’t have to be so painful. And your organization as a whole will benefit.
When employees have more flexible access to their schedules, they are more likely to feel empowered, satisfied, and engaged in their roles. They also feel valued because their business is adopting tools that create a better workplace experience for them.
So, not only does employee scheduling software save time, energy, and frustration. It also inspires staff to show up ready to add value. Who doesn’t want that?
Shift Scheduling Example and Template: See Beekeeper in Action
If you’re new to employee shift scheduling, there are plenty of best practices and examples to help you get started. Here are a few we’ve found to be extremely helpful.
Set Your Schedule’s Schedule
When you’re ready to make your first shift schedule, remember these two things: plan ahead and stay consistent.
When deciding how far in advance to make your schedule, it’s important to check in with your local regulations. Some require a minimum of 14 days advance notice, while others call for 21 days.
Once you know how far in advance you need to share your shift schedule, you can set your schedule’s schedule.
Confused? Let’s say you’re creating a shift schedule for the last two weeks of the month, and you need to post it a week in advance. That means you probably need to have your schedule ready by the end of the first week of the month.
And, don’t forget the value of consistency. If employees are used to checking for their new schedules on the last Monday of the month, stick to that. It builds really great workforce management practices that aren’t always easy to come by.
Double-Check Your Employees’ Availability
Nothing’s worse than spending an hour scheduling shifts and realizing you forgot to check your staff’s availability. If no one put in time off or had schedule changes, then no harm was done. But if so, you’ll have to start over from scratch.
When sitting down to do your shift schedule, carve out time to review any schedule changes you need to keep in mind. That way, you save yourself time and frustration – and you show employees you’re listening to their scheduling needs.
Use Colors To Designate Specific Shifts
In Beekeeper, admins can easily set up shifts for their specific location or groups. When scheduling these shifts, don’t be afraid to use colors designations.
For example, you can assign the first shift to blue, second shift to green, and night shift to orange. That way, when an employee views their schedule – either in calendar or list mode – they can instantly see which shifts they’ve been assigned.
Don’t Forget Your Employee Shift Scheduling Template!
In your Beekeeper app, you can easily download our Excel template. Or, you can replicate your new schedule from a previously used file.
Either way, starting with an employee shift scheduling template will speed up the process because you’ll have everything formatted exactly the way you want it.
Share The New Schedule With Your Team
You’ve created your first shift schedule using Beekeeper – congrats! Now, it’s time to tell your employees.
Remember, the sooner you let them know about the new schedule, the sooner they can start planning out their weeks. According to a recent survey, almost two-thirds of shift workers said getting advanced notice of the new schedules was a top priority.
Which makes sense. Whether you’re a shift worker, full-time employee, or seasonal staff – work/life balance is important for everyone.
With Beekeeper, your shift team can receive push notifications as soon as the new schedule is available. And managers can go one step further by posting in the group’s Stream to ensure everyone’s seen the update.
It doesn’t get much easier than that – and easier is what we’re going for.
See Beekeeper In Action: SIXTY Hotels
SIXTY Hotels has luxury properties in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles and has been using Beekeeper’s Shift Schedules for a while. The hospitality company uses the scheduling functionality to deliver a personalized shift work schedule to the team members that need them most.
In turn, SIXTY Hotel employees are more empowered with their interactive work schedule. They also have greater autonomy over their work schedules and are generally more engaged – leading to better guest interactions.
Let Beekeeper help you schedule shifts without the stress and ensure every shift is always covered. With better shift communication comes increased productivity and reduced absenteeism, saving companies time and money in the long run.