What Is Staff Scheduling and Planning?
Staff scheduling and planning consumes hours of managers’ and dispatchers’ time. Staff scheduling and planning does not simply entail filling out a calendar of shifts; rather, it involves maintaining proper service levels, satisfying customers, retaining quality employees, and ensuring that the right number of resources is available at the right time and in the right place.
Staff scheduling and planning becomes a complex task because managers must assign employees to tasks and shifts while accounting for organizational and legal regulations, employees’ skills and preferences, business demands, and more. When staff scheduling and planning are done manually, it consumes a great deal of time and takes managers from other necessary tasks, such as managing employees and interacting with customers.
The goal of proper staff scheduling and planning is to assign work as effectively as possible. This leads to cost reduction, as the organization is no longer overstaffed or understaffed. Optimal staff scheduling and planning minimizes cost, complies with organizational and legal rules, and satisfies staff members and customers.
Staff Scheduling and Planning Best Practices
Staff scheduling and planning are two distinct, yet closely related processes. Following best practices for staff scheduling and planning enables HR and management professionals to get the most use of their human capital.
Staff Scheduling Best Practices
Staff scheduling becomes a little easier when managers follow scheduling best practices. While each company’s scheduling issues are specific to its staff and unique business needs, there are some common staff scheduling best practices that apply to nearly every company:
- Managers should take into account the peak hours of business and schedule staff accordingly. Overstaffing during slow times is costly, and being understaffed results in unhappy customers and employees, so schedule accordingly.
- Managers should survey employees and determine vacations, holidays, and other time off requests at least one month in advance. Scheduling staff around their requested time off makes them feel appreciated and valued, and it helps staffing managers to ensure that enough people are on the schedule to cover peak times.
- Consider staff scheduling preferences when creating schedules. This means that staffing managers need to ask employees their preferred days and hours, as well as those that should be avoided, ahead of time. Managers won’t be able to meet all employees’ scheduling demands, but evenly distributing more popular shifts is key to showing employees that scheduling is being completed as fairly as possible.
- Develop a process for giving schedules to staff in advance for approval and for getting confirmation from them. Also, save scheduling history for documentation should any staff members have an issue about previous schedules or question distribution of shifts.
Staff Planning Best Practices
Staff planning entails strategies for properly identifying and analyzing an organization’s needs for determining requirements for staffing size, type, and quality in order to achieve business goals. Staff planning should center on identifying the combination of staff experience, knowledge, and skills to optimize work and progress toward achieving business goals. Staff planning processes include plotting a strategic direction, analyzing the workforce, implementing and following the staff plan, and evaluating the results.
Specific staff planning best practices also involve…
- Standardizing the staff planning process
- Providing staff planners with analytical skills and knowledge of business strategy and operations
- Aligning financial and HR data while establishing standard, enterprise-wide data definitions
- Using staff planning and analytics software to streamline and automate the process as much as possible
- Focusing on the critical roles and skills that are necessary for executing the business and planning strategy
Final Thoughts on Staff Scheduling and Planning
Leaving staff scheduling and planning in the hands of a manger, rather than to a software solution, can be costly, both in terms of the bottom line and staff satisfaction. Manual processes are outdated, time-consuming, and often lead to human error or less-than-ideal schedules as it’s challenging to accurately identify every potential conflict and every opportunity for optimization relying solely on manual planning.
Leading workforce management software solutions automate staff scheduling and planning and optimize resources in ways that are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve manually. The right workforce management software solution practically eliminates staff scheduling and planning challenges and leads to increased efficiency, productivity, and satisfaction across the organization.