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April 13, 2021 | Time and Attendance | Posted by Ascentis Thought Leadership

7 Tips for Efficient Employee Scheduling

Creating a consistent and effective schedule can be a real challenge no matter what industry you’re working in. In fields that require around-the-clock workforces with a diverse range of skill sets and training, that challenge can often be an expensive one. Time and attendance systems that allow for efficient employee scheduling that can accommodate many kinds of workers while keeping compliant with all applicable regulations are a must for employers in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, and construction. Let’s look at some of the ways improving your scheduling practices can help you create the most efficient work schedule and boost your bottom line.

How to improve scheduling efficiency

Efficient employee scheduling is an essential part of running a successful business. Both small businesses and enterprise-level companies rely on efficient scheduling to save money and improve business operations. If you want to know more about how to improve scheduling efficiency and how talent management software can help, here’s a quick breakdown.

Tips for Efficient Employee Scheduling

1. Schedule the right workers for the right shifts

The importance of effective labor scheduling can’t be overstated in some industries. In industries that require specific training and certification for individual roles, ineffective scheduling practices can easily lead to unfinished jobs, delays in production, or compliance violations. For example, a manufacturing project might require employees to complete a training and safety course before operating a specific piece of machinery. If that machinery is essential to completing a project, a shift where no properly trained workers are scheduled essentially becomes a wasted shift. That is obviously an undesirable outcome from a cost-effectiveness perspective. The risks become even more evident in the healthcare field, where a lack of certified workers on a certain shift can jeopardize patients’ health and put a facility in danger of lawsuits and license revocations.

The other side of that coin poses less physical danger but can be expensive in its own right. In a system where employee pay is tied to training or tenure, scheduling overqualified workers in roles that could be filled by someone with less experience or fewer certifications can run up needless costs for an employer. To put it simply, paying a highly trained worker $35 an hour to perform a job that an entry-level worker could do for $18 an hour is poor cost management. On average, companies with consistent scheduling are 174% more likely to have a more engaged workforce.

Companies with consistent scheduling are 174% more likely to have a more engaged workforce

Those cost overruns can be avoided with an automated scheduling system that allows rules-based scheduling. Your scheduling software can be customized to recognize specific skill sets and certifications required for each shift and ensure that a schedule is not approved until those requirements are met, which leads to more efficient employee scheduling. An automated scheduling system can also check each shift to make sure that the scheduled workforce meets all the criteria for compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. By eliminating the potential for human error, automating your scheduling can help you cut labor costs, prevent work delays, and avoid fines.

2. Accommodate nontraditional schedules

The so-called traditional 9-to-5 schedule is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, but for many industries, it was never even a thing of the present. In fact, roughly 10.1% of the workforce, or 16 million workers, worked nontraditional work schedules in 2017. Manufacturers, healthcare facilities, hospitality and service industry establishments, and many other employers have long required an around-the-clock workforce to keep operations functioning smoothly. Accommodating the kinds of unorthodox schedules necessary to those businesses requires flexible and adaptable scheduling solutions in order to prevent cost overruns and interruptions in productivity.

10.1% of the workforce, or 16 million workers, worked nontraditional

In most cases, round-the-clock scheduling involves too many variables to be managed by manual processes. For instance, many employers offer pay-based incentives for working evening or weekend shifts. Scheduling too many workers for those shifts quickly runs up unnecessary expenses while scheduling too few can raise safety concerns, delay the completion of important projects, and contribute to higher employee burnout and turnover rates.

Rules-based scheduling tools can also be a big help with nontraditional schedules. Your efficient employee scheduling dashboard can be customized to ensure that each shift is staffed with properly qualified and credentialed workers while also setting limits on costly factors like overtime hours and weekend pay. Real-time scheduling data analytics can also help save money in the long term by providing insights into skills gaps, productivity levels, and rates of absenteeism and turnover.

3. Combine scheduling with payroll

Keeping on top of scheduling can be a full-time job for a large organization with a complex workforce. That can make it all too easy to silo your scheduling processes, which in turn makes it all too easy to lose sight of their true financial costs. Using an automated scheduling system to tie schedules directly to payroll can help with payroll efficiency and make it easier to ensure that you’re keeping a close eye on the associated labor costs.

By automatically calculating the costs per shift of workers with different salary ranges, task-based rates of pay, and projected overtime payments, your financial team can make more accurate budget forecasts. Those numbers not only inform future hiring and purchasing decisions but also help to identify potential compliance issues and other problem areas before they impact your bottom line.

4. Remain compliant

Whether you run a small business or a massive corporation, compliance should be a main focus of efficient employee scheduling. There are federal regulations in place regarding how employers are allowed to write employee schedules. For example, most scheduling laws require employers to provide employees with a schedule in advance, so that employees have time to make accommodations in order to work their shifts. There may also be limits regarding how many hours you can schedule an employee for in a day and how much time you must leave between scheduled shifts.

One of the benefits of scheduling software is the fact that you don’t have to worry so much about compliance. Scheduling software helps improve scheduling efficiency by helping you remain compliant with less effort, so you can focus on creating the best schedule for your business and your employees.

5. Publish your schedule in advance

As we mentioned before, you need to make sure you’re publishing your schedule in advance to make sure your employees can work their shifts. The earlier you publish your schedule and let your employees know about it, the more time they’ll have to free up time around that schedule. This is especially important if your company schedule fluctuates a lot as you move from project to project.

Publishing your schedule early also helps reduce employee absences and improve workplace satisfaction. You should work with employees when creating a schedule, not against them.

6. Be flexible

Flexible scheduling is one of the most important parts of efficient employee scheduling and keeping employees engaged. According to Harvard University’s The Shift Project, roughly 80% of workers have little to no input in their work schedules, and 69% of workers are required to keep their schedules “open and available” to work whenever asked by their employer. This lack of flexibility and input can be a deal-breaker for some employees.

80% of workers have little to no input in their work schedules By creating a flexible schedule and giving employees more control over their work schedule, you can boost employee engagement and get better work out of your crew. Increasing flexibility also helps improve workplace satisfaction, which is essential if you want to reduce employee turnover and find the best employees for the long term.

7. Make schedules accessible

If you’re looking for tips on how to ease workforce scheduling, make schedules easily accessible for employees. Automated scheduling systems typically make it easy to upload employee schedules to a portal where employees can log in and view their schedules. This saves you time and leads to more efficient employee scheduling, and also gives your employees a heads-up about their schedule.

A simple website or web-based app where your employees can view their schedule for the next two weeks is enough, but you can go even further with scheduling and HR software that allows employees to request time off through your website. Small changes like this make it more convenient for your employees to stay on top of their work schedule, plus it helps improve workplace satisfaction. If you’re using automated scheduling software, make sure those schedules are easily accessible for your employees.

Wrapping up: Creating efficient employee scheduling

In the modern employment landscape, it’s clear that employee scheduling is no longer the sole domain of your human resources department. With all of the ways effective workforce scheduling can positively impact your budgetary decisions, it is vital to have your finance experts and CFO involved from the outset. Learn more about how workforce management software from Ascentis can transform your scheduling process, boost your profitability, and keep your workplace safe and compliant.


With more than 35 years of experience in providing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Ascentis thought leaders have become a respected source for insights, tips, and innovations in the Human Capital Management (HCM) space.