Even with great planning and foresight, it's inevitable that employees will occasionally have unexpected events that make them unable to work their scheduled shift.
Employee schedule swaps and changes have to be one of the most frustrating items for managers.
Schedule swaps and shift changes can be confusing for both staff and management . Updated schedules penciled in or needing to be remembered by those swapping and by management may not have even been aware of the change can cause issues. Obviously, this created problems for both employees and management and also for your customers, who expect a full, attentive staff for their experience.
These days, there are many ways to curb confusion and avoid frustration allowing employees to swap shifts. To make it easy for your employees to communicate with each other and with you about the latest changes to the schedule. Ideally, your employees will be able to easily get help when they need it, everyone will know about shift changes with plenty of time to spare.
Here are some ways to make sure you’re never left wondering who’s covering whose schedule when employees swap shifts.
Step 1 - Define a clear process
Setting a procedure for swapping schedules and training employees can eliminate many headaches.
First, be sure all of your employees are crystal clear about the proper process for switching shifts.
Identify the best practices that you’d like them to use, and clearly outline all of the steps involved, from updating their profile and schedule on a software program (if you use one), to sending texts or calling the people involved in the switch (including management). Having one simple, standard process in place and making sure that this process is communicated to every single employee as a part of their training means that everyone is clear about expectations around changing the schedule.
You may even consider putting a reminder of the process into any paperwork or training materials that you provide to employees’ on their first day on the job.
A standard process for employee schedule swaps along with software can improve business scheduling.
Step 2 - Keep lines of communication open
Encouraging open lines of communication between employees and management not only builds trust and rapport, it also helps you better manage schedules so you can minimize shift-swapping.
Sometimes agreed-upon availability changes because of an employee’s home life or other circumstances out of their control. While it can be challenging to manage the changing needs of many employees at once, it’s critical that your staff feel comfortable coming to you with these developments so you can effectively manage the overall schedule.
While it won’t always be possible to accommodate these requests, keeping communication open and creating an environment that encourages openness with management will help ensure that you’re managing the most crucial shift changes and also respecting your employees’ needs - resulting in a happier team.
Step 3 - Leverage technology
In many cases, technology can offer a simple, streamlined solution to scheduling woes.
If you’re already using a scheduling software system like ZoomShift, take advantage of the features like Shift Swap, which notifies qualified employees as soon shifts open up. This allows available employees to fill open spots immediately, and allows you and the rest of your staff to rest easy knowing all shifts are covered.
The centralized location, tracking and notifications built into the system mean that no one will be left scrambling, and that you’ll always know who’s working which shift.
Many software programs also have a feature like the discussion board, which allows a more open conversation between all employees about schedules, swaps, and other information. Bulletin boards can also be used to facilitate a collaborative scheduling process, turning what used to be a conversation between individual employees and managers into a more productive and open discussion amongst the whole team.
As your employees get to know your culture and processes, it’s important to foster a culture of collaboration. When every employee on your team believes that they are working toward a common goal, they’ll take pride in their work and live up to the standards set by you and by the team. No one wants to let their team down, so not only will employees stick to their word when volunteering for an available shift - they’ll also be more likely offer help in the first place. Instead of having management oversee and verify shift changes, you’ll be developing a self-sufficient team who looks out for each others’ best interests and keeps operations running smoothly.
Of course, the best way to curb confusion around shift swaps is to minimize them in the first place. Having open, honest conversations about your employees needs, and encouraging them to come to you with their concerns will mean fewer shift changes among your employees. And when the odd change does occur, the tips above will help you avoid any confusion.
Get more ideas from our guide to relational employee scheduling.
Do you have tips for how to allow shift swaps without confusion?
What has worked for your team in the past?
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