Shift Calendar | 4 mins read

How to Utilize a Shift Calendar When Scheduling Employees

how to utilize a shift calendar when scheduling employees
Mary Kate Morrow

By Mary Kate Morrow

What is a Shift Calendar?

A shift calendar is a scheduling tool used by businesses to keep employee work schedules organized and accessible. Employee schedules are usually created through a spreadsheet or calendar applications.

Previously, employee schedules had to be created using pen and paper. Currently, many managers use Excel or Word for shift planning. Shift planning software technology has further simplified and streamlined employee scheduling procedures.

A calendar schedule provides easy use and accessibility for all of your employees who interact with your shift calendar application. A digital work calendar can provide a visual and organized aid to a traditional employee work schedule print out.

Benefits of a calendar schedule include-

  • Decreased labor costs
  • Higher employee retention
  • More satisfied employees
  • Legal compliance
  • Talent and skill optimization

How to Manage Work Schedules with a Shift Calendar

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A shift calendar is incredibly helpful for shift work schedule planning. Best practice tips to most effectively use a work calendar include-

1. Research- Work compliance violations can be costly to both your business's profitability and reputation. Make sure to research your federal and state shift work labor laws and create your work calendar schedule based on compliance.

Additionally, provide your employees with this information so that they are informed about their own rights and can alert you if they see any potential violations in their schedules. Scheduling software can be very helpful for alerting employees and employers of potential labor violations before they are committed.

2. Evaluate- Understand your business unique needs before you create any work calendar or shift schedule for your employees. Without understanding what your business actually needs, you are at a much higher risk of understaffing or overstaffing for any specific shift.

During this evaluation period, it is helpful to consider the following questions-

1. What will the protocol be for employee time off requests? Make sure to consider details and specifics like how much time in advance you need employees to submit requests.

Additionally, provide employees with transparency around how requests are considered. Understanding the guidelines used when receiving and processing an employee time off request will lead to less unnecessary tension between employers and employees.

For example, a factor you consider when granting or rejecting time off requests may be employee seniority at the company. Instead of assuming there was favoritism at play, each employee will know exactly how their time off request was processed.

2. Can employees swap shifts?
Allowing employees to have control over their ability to swap or volunteer for shifts can increase employee engagement levels and free up valuable time for your managers. Make sure that employees understand how much control they have over their own schedules and the proper protocol expected.

An added benefit of allowing employees to directly influence their work calendar is that workplace communication and teamwork are also improved. By working together as a team, employees can cover each others shifts and will likely feel a higher sense of responsibility towards committing to shifts they've volunteered for.

3. What type of schedule will work best for your specific business needs?
There are many different types of employee schedules to consider. These range from the traditional 9-5 full time worker to freelance workers.

4. Will your business have shift work flexibility? Shift work is a term often used to describe labor performed during non-traditional work hours. A shift work employee may have a rotating schedule and more flexibility.

Shift work is a great alternative for employees with childcare responsibilities or more than one job. With more remote workers than ever, shift work can also provide your employees with the flexibility to work when they feel the most productive and creative instead of limiting them to the traditional 9-5 work schedule.

3. Quantify- Estimate labor requirements needed in order to create a work calendar with the right staff. Record patterns and mistakes so that you can use them in the future to generate a better shift schedule in the future.

Shift planning software helps to project and record data in order to create the best calendar schedule possible. Scheduling software focuses on easy use for employees, so your work calendar can be accessed anywhere an employee has internet access.

4. Update- A shift calendar is useless if it is not updated in real time. Employees who are not given up to date scheduling information may miss a rescheduled shift or show up for a shift that has been delegated to another employee.

Managers should shift work calendar entries based on adjustments that employees have made to their work calendar as quickly as possible. Keeping employees informed about their shift schedule will keep employee morale and satisfaction high while making sure your business is properly staffed.