Shift Planner | 9 mins read

Developing a Shift Planner and How it Benefits Your Business

developing a shift planner and how it benefits your business
Mary Kate Morrow

By Mary Kate Morrow


74% of employees report that their employers do not provide them with access to the latest technology necessary to perform their jobs most efficiently and effectively. Employee shift planner software is an example of a technological investment that provides many benefits to a business and its workers.

What is a Shift Planner?

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A shift planner is an employee scheduling tool that streamlines and simplifies the process of creating an ideal shift work schedule. A shift planner, generally the store manager, is the designated employee who is responsible for shift planning.

Each employee on staff likely has their own specific scheduling preferences or needs which can be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for a shift planner to account for.

For example, some employees may be strictly available as a night shift worker due to childcare needs. Scheduling a night shift employee for a day shift could cause them to have to make stressful last-minute accommodations, or even result in them missing the shift altogether.

Shift planning requires managers to consider a large amount of information about each employee and then try to cater to their requests as much as possible. Businesses are faced with the dilemma of finding a balance between their business needs and the preferences of their employees regarding their schedules.

On the other hand, some businesses do not consider employee requests. Unsurprisingly, these businesses have lower employee retention and employee satisfaction rates. Overtime, lack of employee schedule considerations and accommodations results in low employee morale and high turnover rates, which is disastrous to long term business profitability and success.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

Why Shift Planner's Matter

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Shift planning has very real consequences on your business profitability and employee engagement rates. Ultimately, you want to create a work schedule that will make your employees as happy as possible but also keep your labor costs as low as possible.

In the short term, underscheduling will result in stressed out employees and an inability to provide exceptional customer service. In the long term underscheduling results in higher turnover rates and a loss of potential sales or client acquesition.

On the other hand, overscheduling can be detrimental to your business's profitability. Employees who do not feel properly challenged will likely feel unengaged and bored which may also result in higher turnover rates.

Proper shift planning maximizes a business's ability to build schedules around its top talent employees. A great shift planner will also keep a list of employee availability in case of an emergency, such as transportation issues or a family emergency.

What is Shift Planning Software?

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Shift planning software streamlines the employee scheduling process, focusing on easy use capabilities as well as freeing up the time and energy that managers waste on outdated scheduling practices. Planning software finds the perfect balance to keep your storefront well staffed with the highest number of employee schedule requests fulfilled.

Previously, employee scheduling was a manual task that managers had to perform using pen and paper. Not only was this manual process susceptible to costly human errors, but it was also incredibly time-consuming and stressful.

Today many managers use applications like Excel or Word for their business's scheduling needs. Unfortunately, these managers are not provided with the technology necessary to most efficiently and effectively perform their role because their employer has not yet invested in a proper shift planning software program.

Planning software simplifies a large quantity of complex information to generate the best work schedule possible for every employee on staff. Shift planning software can consider and account for a wide variety of factors simultaneously, including-

  • Employee availability
  • Unexpected call outs
  • Vacation time
  • Overtime pay
  • Under scheduling
  • Over scheduling
The best shift planning software will have compatibility with other software ranging from an employee time clock to a time tracking application. Employees can download these applications from the app store to access both real time updates and ensure easy use capabilities.

The Benefits of Using Shift Planning Software

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Shift planning software offers businesses a wide variety of benefits for increasing both profitability and efficiency. When considering investing in new software, managers should look for a program that provides both easy use and functionality. Benefits of proper shift planning software include-

1. Decreased human error- No matter how well trained or experienced your shift planner is, there is always the potential for human error. Scheduling software will automatically alert when there is a conflict or error that otherwise would have resulted in a costly mistake. Technological advancements make it easy to consider multiple variables simultaneously to create the most ideal work schedule possible.

2. Compatibility- The most effective use of technology focuses on not only easy use but also connectivity. Make sure your scheduling software is compatible with your other software programs in order to optimize your efficiency.

For example, if your shift planning software connects to your payroll software, you can save a lot of time and energy. Instead of having to manually input information, software programs can instantly and effortlessly export data between programs.

For employee scheduling, it is very helpful to have compatibility with time clock and time tracking applications. With just a few downloads from the app store employees will have access to a well connected, compatible technological base.

3. Accessibility- With remote work becoming the new normal, accessibility is important to factor in to business operations. A great shift planner software can be accessed from anywhere with internet connectivity instead of necessitating a trip to the office.

Real time updates coupled with easy use capabilities make time tracking and work scheduling possible from a remote location. Accessibility allows a shift worker to make scheduling requests, view time tracking applications, and access their time clock from their mobile device.

By downloading applications from the app store on their mobile devices, every shift worker can have real time access to important information. To avoid future accessibility issues, make sure to confirm that the app store has programs compatible with various technological devices that your business uses.

4. Lower labor costs- Managers spend vast amounts of time on employee scheduling and time tracking functions. Shift planning and time tracking software save money on labor costs when employees do not need to manually execute business functions that could be easily automated.

Additionally, labor costs are lowered with optimized employee work schedules. Both over scheduling and under scheduling can have huge financial implications on your business profitability. Ideally staffing your store will decrease the need for unnecessary overtime.

Not only will this cut down your labor costs, but it can help keep up employee morale by decreasing stress. Replacing employees is a large business cost, so keeping employees happy will also decrease that labor expense.

5. Happier employees- Your employees are your greatest asset and should therefore be your largest investment. When employees are under or overscheduled, their satisfaction and morale will likely decrease.

Unhappy employees lead to a higher employee turnover rate and issues with employee retention. Replacing employees is not only incredibly costly but can negatively impact your company culture in such a way that even top-performing employees can feel discouraged.

Being mindful about employee capabilities and accommodating employment requests to the best of your ability shows your employees that they are valued and important to the business. When employees feel valued they will perform better and stay at your business longer.

Happier employees also result in better customer service interactions and increased business profitability. The best managers and business owners constantly strive to find ways to invest in employee development and technology needs.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

How to Utilize a Shift Planner to Build Work Schedules

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1. Efficiency- Previously, employers had to find a way to deliver a work schedule copy to each individual employee as well as keep them posted on any changes. With updates or unforeseen circumstances like an employee termination or illness, it can be nearly impossible to give employees the time they need to review and plan for their shifts.

The ideal time for an employee to receive their work schedule is two weeks prior to their current schedule ending. This provides ample time for employees to-

  • Volunteer to cover additional shifts
  • Trade shifts amongst themselves
  • Raise concerns about their schedule
  • Plan for or reschedule personal errands

2. Real time access- Employees rightfully have a lot of stress around their work schedules. Most employees have to figure out how to fit their needs around their work schedule so the more time you can provide them to do so, the better.

A shift planner can provide your employees with a maximum amount of time possible for them to prepare for shifts. This could include finding rides to work, making childcare arrangements, and rescheduling their personal appointments or errands.

This is especially important when an employee is scheduled for a shift that they do not usually cover. For example, a big sporting event may require a night shift worker to cover a day shift instead. Providing that employee with as much notice as possible maximizes the likelihood that they can make that shift.

3. Employee input- Instead of having one person responsible for creating the work schedule, scheduling software lets each employee can contribute to the process.

Not only does this disperse the workload but it can also increase employee engagement levels, as employees will feel more in control of their own schedule. This increases employee responsibility as well as the likelihood of them following through with their shift commitments.

A great way to start this process is by scheduling a top talent shift worker or two and then leaving the schedule open for employees to volunteer for shifts. If you use this work scheduling method, make sure to provide adequate time for employees to schedule themselves and work around real time updates as they occur.

Employee input during scheduling can also increase their appreciation of the efforts that go into shift planning. When employees are responsible for claiming and covering one another's shifts, they gain a better understanding of how much time and energy goes into creating their work schedule.

4. Communication- A great company culture and work environment allow employees to feel confident in their ability to openly and honestly communicate with one another. Shift planning software helps increase communication and employee relationships.

Previously, if an employee was sick they would need to call their manager, and then the manager would need to make arrangements to cover their shift. With planning software, the employee can send out an alert to your entire team in just a few seconds.

The fewer contact points needed, the more effective your scheduling is. With a centralized communication platform, all employees have access to real time updates including schedule openings and shift cancellations.

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