An Aerial View of Employee Shift Planning For Small Business

As anyone who’s ever managed people already knows, there’s more to properly staffing a small business than simply making a schedule. In fact, creating your weekly or monthly employee schedule is just the beginning. For real results, you have to take things a step or two further. That’s why you hear so much about employee shift planning these days– because it represents the next level coordination so necessary for success in today’s ultra-competitive market.

In the following sections, we’ll take a wide angle look at employee shift planning and the positive effects that doing it correctly can have on your business.  We’ll start with a few important generalities.


The Necessity of Employee Shift Planning

Let’s get right to the point– sound employee shift planning is essential to your company’s ongoing success. Done properly, it can build better customer relations, improve employee morale, and expand your client base in ways you never thought possible.

Not surprisingly, negative outcomes usually ensue for companies who don’t integrate precise shift planning into their daily operations. Here are just a few of the consequences that can occur in such cases:

  • Excessive worker stress and poor individual work performance
  • Inflated labor costs
  • Being understaffed at peak times
  • Low employee morale/high turnover
  • Redundancies and other costly inefficiencies
  • Consistent failures to follow standard operating procedures
  • Unnecessary team conflicts
  • Missed deadlines
  • Poor quality control
  • Dissatisfied and lost customers/clients

This is obviously an incomplete list, but it’s more than enough to assert the importance of effective shift planning. Taken together, these negative (and very avoidable) negative consequences can ruin a project completely or force you to shut your business’s doors for good.

Before we take a deeper dive into what employee shift planning actually is, there’s one very important thing you need to keep in mind. Strategic shift planning is very different from simple employee scheduling. Obviously, a well thought out employee schedule is necessary for every business, but it only provides a partial solution to the problems we outlined above.


Employee Shift Planning Defined

Employee shift planning is a concept that’s difficult to define in a sentence or two, but the following description makes for an excellent starting point. Strategic shift planning is a methodical attempt to staff your business in a way that strikes a balance between the following factors:

  • The nature of the tasks that need to be done during a given time frame
  • The varying abilities of your individual employees, including leadership skills
  • How well certain groups of employees work together under specific circumstances
  • Labor costs
  • Productivity needs during busy/slow seasons
  • Positive work culture and job satisfaction
  • High quality products/services
  • Timeliness of deliverables
  • Maximum profits

As you consider all these factors, the difference between mere employee scheduling and strategic shift planning starts to become a bit more clear. While an appropriate employee schedule might serve your needs for short periods of time, it’s only through truly strategic shift planning that you can maximize the productivity and profits your staff generates over the long term.

In the end, it’s all in the name. It’s the ‘plan’ that informs great shift planning that helps companies avoid the consequences of poor staffing and achieve the cost-effective balance we mentioned above.

In order to strike this cost-effective balance, a company’s shift planning techniques must stem from a design that’s based on historical sales patterns, employee skill sets, and current market conditions. With this plan in place, managers can then create an employee schedule that provides staffing that is both flexible and appropriate to the company’s current needs.



The Benefits of Effective Employee Shift Planning

There are numerous benefits to effective employee shift planning. First, it serves to reduce or eliminate the negative consequences we mentioned at the start of this post. This is because strategic shift planning blends personality types and skill sets in a way that maximizes both productivity and employee morale.

Once productivity and job satisfaction have begun to increase, it becomes that much easier to achieve the systematic benefits of a positive work culture. These benefits are the direct result of sound employee shift planning and include the following:

  • High levels of employee engagement and productivity
  • Higher overall production
  • Improvements in the quality and speed of the final deliverable
  • A better work-life balance for your employees

Last but not certainly not least, strategic shift planning creates the happy customers you need to maximize profits. With all these benefits so close at hand, why wouldn’t you want to take the time necessary for optimal employee shift planning?


The Role of Employee Scheduling Software in Strategic Shift Planning

Once you understand what you stand to gain from strategic shift planning, the only question left is how to get there. Obviously, every company will develop a staffing plan that’s based on their particular needs, but you’ll definitely need a great piece of cloud-based scheduling software to put your plan into practice.

With the right software, you can turn your long term staffing plan into something productive and concrete. Here’s just a sample of what the right cloud-based scheduling software can do to put your shift plan into action:

  • Tells everyone where everyone needs to be at all times
  • Provides accurate time tracking for more precise labor analyses and accountability
  • Is accessible anywhere there’s an internet connection
  • Integrates with payroll and other key HR functions
  • Uses options like GPS location tracking and time tracking screenshots to discourage employee time theft
  • Allows for on-the-fly adjustments when something unpredictable happens
  • Prevents excessive shift-juggling even as it allows employees to trade shifts on their own (pending manager approval)
  • Generates reports from every conceivable perspective
  • Puts all the information you need for optimal shift planning in a single place


Combine these features with a well-designed plan and there’s literally no telling what your company can achieve. The digital age has created a number of novel challenges for today’s companies to overcome. Fortunately, it’s also created solutions you never thought you needed. Make sure your company takes advantage of all the resources at its disposal by taking a piece of bleeding edge scheduling software for a spin.


Allocating Your Most Valuable Resource

Even at this late point in the digital age, it goes without saying that the people who work for you are your business’s most important asset. This holds true regardless of geographical area and across every industry sector. It doesn’t matter how large (or small) your company’s workforce is either.

With everything else being equal, it’s the ability of your employees to work as a team that will determine the fate of your business. Unfortunately, high-level teamwork isn’t something that happens all by itself. You’ll have to play an active role in getting the most out of your people, and intelligent employee shift planning is the basis for everything good that comes after it.


Further Thoughts

The teamwork you need has to be active both within and between different shifts. In fact, the most successful companies– regardless of industry– look at their employee shift planning design as an organic whole. These firms understand that what happens today has consequences that reach far into the future.

This last remark sums up the encompassing influence of strategic shift planning nicely. Hopefully, it also convinces you of the importance of sound shift planning in today’s specialized yet global market. Nothing your business does happens in a vacuum. Take control of the inevitable ripple effect today by investigating on what employee shift planning can do to help everything hang together.