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9 Common Employee Scheduling Problems and How to Solve

Scheduling shifts for workers is a time-consuming task for mangers.

According to Inc., scheduling is one of the main reasons of staff quitting their jobs.

We all see that scheduling causes frustration for not only managers, but also for employees.

Here are 9 common employee scheduling problems, and some easy, time-saving ways that leaders can apply to prepare for these issues.

9 Common Employee Scheduling Problems

1. Shortage of Employees

If your business doesn’t have enough staff for certain shifts, it can’t be well-oiled. Things may get messy and hectic quickly.

Customers may complain because they’ve been waiting for 30 minutes without being served. And you know it: When your customers aren’t happy, you’re facing a big trouble of losing their trust and loyalty.

Many business managers solve this issue by constantly hiring new staff. However, the whole hiring process takes time and budget, which is an important factor to consider, especially for small businesses. And you don’t always get well-qualified employees.

There are two main reasons for this problem: either your business is understaffed, or you’re not making the most effective work schedule. You need to either hire more people or review your employee scheduling process.

To get a good grasp on the availability and potential of employees, you can create a shift schedule that’s not only effective for your business, but can also satisfy your staff.

2. Overscheduling

When your business is busy and understaffed, you’re likely to overschedule your employees. Some of them are willing to take more work opportunities, but this does more harm than good.

Some employees may feel dissatisfied, unproductive, and irritated if they have to work too much. You don’t want your staff to serve customers with a tired face and condescending attitude. You also don’t want the stress of overwork to take a toll on your employees.

Keeping track of your employees’ working time can be time-consuming if you’re managing shifts with papers or spreadsheets. A workforce managament software such as Camelo can be of great help as it calculates your employees’ working time automatically.

3. No-Calls, No-Shows

This is one of the most frustrating problems for managers. When employees don’t show up with no prior warnings, whether accidentally or on purpose, you have to quickly look for replacements.

It’s great if you can establish a standby team including staff that are willing to jump in anytime. And make sure that you can call or message them easily.

4. Messy Schedule

This issue is common among business owners who still use pen and paper to schedule shifts for workers. Manual shift planning is easy to implement at first, but becomes inflexible later on.

Whenever you make changes to a complex schedule, information can get disorganized if you don’t find a way to arrange them logically.

It’s best to set up a logical scheduling process with an organized system so that you can make adjustments and notify employees about changes later on.

The easiest way to avoid and solve this messy problem is to use a decent scheduling software with time clock and easy scheduling features.

5. Time-Off Requests

having a break for staff
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Staff asking for time-off requests is an unavoidable issue that supervisors have to deal with.

As a manager, you have to make sure that requests are received and responded properly. Whether you approve the requests or not, you need to clearly inform your decision to your staff.

One thing you should remember is to make it clear how far in advance you’ll be accepting requests for time-offs. It’ll be challenging if you run a busy store and some staff ask to be absent one hour prior to their shifts.

Then, there’s the problem of finding suitable substitutes for those vacant shifts. As we’ve mentioned before, you should have a standby team to help you in those situations.

6. Lack of Availability

Shift-based workers have a flexible availability. You can ask employees to fill in an availability form manually or digitally to get a grasp on who’s available when and assign shifts accordingly.

To balance out your team, you should have some staff who can work in the morning, some in the evening, and people willing to take night shifts. You can also hire college students for part-time positions for more flexibility.

7. Staying Compliant

Managers need to be aware of changes in laws and regulations to avoid legal risks and hefty fines that may come out of nowhere.

Make sure that you know about the laws, and take them into careful consideration when managing your employee’s schedule.

8. Employee Turnover

A high employee turnover rate is a big cost of time and money for any businesses. Managers shouldn’t spend most of their time hiring and training new staff, looking for shift replacements, or tweaking the schedules.

Employee turnover is an unavoidable issue, but there are a few ways you can do to keep your employees. Create a positive workplace, better your communication, give praises and rewards, offer better benefits, etc.

9. Paid Time-Offs and Vacations

Everyone needs some days to get off work and has a break for themselves. Finding staff to cover for these periods of time can be challenging. Imagine half of your team ask for days off on Christmas.

You can offer better bonuses or rates for anyone willing to work on those days. And don’t forget to mark holidays and vacations on your work calendar, as well as planning ahead for those days.

Tips to Avoid Employee Scheduling Problems

Hire enough staff

Even when you’re having a good employee scheduling process, you still need a certain number of employees for your business to operate smoothly.

Always review how many staff you need per role, shift, day, and location. Then managing absences and arranging shifts would be much easier for you.

Use a workforce management software

A decent workforce management software would help you solve most of the problems mentioned above.

It allows you to manage employee’s availability and assign shifts quickly based on restrictions that you set up.

Time-off requests are put into one place so you can see who can substitute and whether to approve the requests or not right on your phone.

workforce management software for solving employee scheduling problems
Photo by DocuSign on Unsplash

Incentivize employees

You can incentivize your staff by offering bonuses and higher pay rates, especially on special or emergency situations.

Besides giving financial incentives, you can give them mental motivation by establishing a friendlier work environment, giving them recognition, or involving them into the scheduling process.

If employees feel that they are an important part of your business and you actually care about them, you can boost their productivity and retention.


The above employee scheduling problems are something all managers of frontline workers can relate to.

By implementing effective practices when planning shifts and managing employees, you can save yourself a lot of time, money, and efforts and spend them on other important matters.

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One Comment

  1. It’s really a great and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this useful info with us.

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