Scheduling is hard. I used to work in a grocery store — and it didn’t matter if you were the employee or the manager — scheduling and communicating with hourly employees and coworkers was always a huge hassle.
Managers spend hours preparing the work schedule — figuring out who’s available and who’s not. Flipping through post-it notes and emails to make sure you don’t schedule your Shift Lead, Sally, on a day that conflicts with her classes or second job. Not to mention when someone calls in sick or doesn’t show up.
Fortunately it’s 2014 and we have the cloud, smartphones, text messaging and social media to help coordinate and communicate with hourly employees more efficiently.
Below I will review 3 really cool ways technology and devices can be used to more effectively schedule and communicate with our hourly employees.
Full disclaimer: I’m the CEO of When I Work, a mobile employee scheduling software — so the bulk of my enthusiasm is going to be around the tech I live everyday, but I’ll also touch on a couple other tools that I’ve heard work well too.
Text, Email and Tweet Your Employees Their Work Schedule
There are dozens of online scheduling tools that can help you communicate and distribute the work schedule to your employees. Most support email, few support text messaging — and I don’t know of any (except ours) that leverage social media and 2-way text messaging.
The goal is to put the work schedule in each employees pocket by whatever means necessary. These days, pretty much ALL text messages get read, and getting the work schedule in front of an employees eyeballs is paramount. Also, employees typically love it because it makes life easier for them — managers like it because it makes them more accountable.
A text message or tweet reminder sent to an employee 2 hours before their shifts begins helps too. You can also use free tools like Google Calendar and/or WhatsApp to keep everyone in-the-know, but these tools require a bit of an ad-hoc setup and communication is more manual.
Another fantastic way to save yourself time and keep employees accountable is integrated 2-way text messaging. For example, if employees can text things like “Do I work on Friday?”, your online scheduling tool should instantly reply with an appropriate response.
Know Who’s Available and Who’s Not
Centralize communication about availability and time off requests into an online system. It’s an efficient and reliable way to determine who can work and who can’t.
Most systems allow employees to input their availability preferences through the schedule tool. This streamlines things for managers because they can instantly see (in one view) who’s available.
This can be taken a step further with mobile. With our mobile scheduling system, employees can update and input their availability right from the iPhone.
No Shows and ‘Sick’ Calls
The worst is when you get caught off guard. You get a call or text in the morning that someone’s not going to make it in today for their shift.
A good employee scheduling software will make it easy to see who’s available and qualified to work the shift — but a fantastic scheduling software will automate the process for you — from your computer or mobile phone.
One click and you’re done. Get back to business.
Scheduling hourly employees is a daunting task. It has been for decades. Fortunately, we now have a lot of great tools at our fingertips to help us ease the pain.
Finding those tools can be almost as daunting, but if you understand your problem well, the right solution should find you.
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- 3 Reasons to Schedule Your Hourly Employees in the Cloud - January 13, 2014