shift bidding

Shift Bidding: How It Works & Best Practices

Gone are the days of rigid scheduling where employees had little say in their work hours. Shift bidding is injecting flexibility into the workplace and shaping work schedules in a way that suits everyone’s needs.

In this article, we wanted to discuss shift bidding and how you can implement this flexible scheduling approach in your business.

What is shift bidding?

Shift bidding is a scheduling method that lets employees express interest in working specific shifts. It’s a balance between employee preferences and the scheduler’s control.

How does shift bidding work?

Shift bidding begins when the person in charge of scheduling creates shifts they need employees for. They can set specific qualifications, positions, or requirements for the shifts.

When the scheduler notifies employees of these available shifts, employees can choose the shifts they want to work in the form of a “shift bid”. The scheduler will review the employees interested in the shifts and decide who to assign the shift to.

shift bidding

Who can use shift bidding?

Shift bidding is commonly used in industries that have flexible work schedules and varying shift patterns, including:

Bidding might be more suitable for businesses with a larger workforce and a more structured system for handling bids.

Smaller businesses, with limited resources and lower competition for shifts, may find simple shift swapping more suitable. They often have enough flexibility in managing schedules without the need for a formal bidding process.

Benefits of shift bidding

Here’s why you might want to think about using shift bidding strategies in your business:

Maintain fairness

Some shifts are popular among employees because they allow better work-life balance or they allow overtime income. Some shifts are less desired as they take place at inconvenient hours, involve taxing work, or offer less income.

Self scheduling allows employees to pick shifts on a first-come first-served basis, but that isn’t always fair. For shift bidding, when the scheduler reviews who to give the shift to, they can make sure everyone has equal opportunity to work highly-desired shifts.

Improve employee engagement

Shift bidding allows workers to pick the shifts they want to work and adjust their schedules easily. This makes them feel more in control and engaged in the scheduling process.

Having flexible work schedules can make employees really happy. And when employees are happy, they’re more likely to stick around.

Reduce employee scheduling time

When employees can set their own schedules, the people in charge of scheduling only need to decide which shifts need workers and who are qualified for the shifts. As the time spent on scheduling is reduced, management can use that time to work on other aspects of the business.

employee scheduling

Reduce absenteeism

Absenteeism can harm businesses in several ways. When workers are absent, there aren’t enough staff to meet customer needs. Coworkers may have to cover for the absentees, affecting team morale and leading to dissatisfaction. Reduced productivity and customer service can harm the sales, revenue, and reputation of the business.

Although absenteeism may result from different reasons, whether it’s mental health issues, illness, or personal reasons, taking steps to prevent it is important.

When employees can choose the shifts they want to work, they’ve already considered whether they can show up, so they’re less likely to miss work.

Best practices for shift bidding

If you want to implement shift bidding in your business, here are some best practices you can apply:

Be fair

Sometimes, you might give the same employees the shifts they want because they’re competent and experienced. You might not even notice that you’re picking certain people because you like them better. Favoritism, intentionally or unintentionally, may lead to employee dissatisfaction and even claims of discrimination.

To keep it fair, try to set clear criteria for shifts, such as skills required, rotation, or seniority. Or you can use scheduling software that can alert you when you keep giving the same employees the same shifts or when you overschedule someone.

If all of the interested employees are qualified for the shift, rotate so everyone gets a fair chance to take it.

Don’t micromanage

Don’t try to make everything perfect and dwell on every detail of the schedule. Let the bidding shift procedures do some of the work for you.

If you realize certain types of shifts aren’t suitable for bidding, you can plan more carefully for next time instead of thinking bidding is not for your business. You can use bidding for shifts that are less critical, or shifts that don’t require specific skills and experience. Or you can add bidding as an extra option alongside your traditionally planned schedule.

Understand shift requirements

Be clear about the unique needs and requirements of a shift and how shift bidding fits in. If the requirements are clear and everyone has a shot at meeting them, you can avoid favoritism.

Understanding shift needs also allows you to improve your shift planning. You may realize shift bids aren’t necessary anymore, or another type of schedule fits your business better.

Get feedback

Shift bidding isn’t for everyone. Some find competing for a shift stressful. Some might suspect favoritism no matter how transparent and fair you try to be.

To understand if bidding for shifts is working, get feedback from customers and employees. How’s the quality of customer service? What do employees think about this scheduling method? You can always adjust the processes and scheduling strategies to make sure they work for your business and your team.

feedback on shift bidding

Use the right tools

Bidding requires lots of back-and-forth communication, so it can become a mess if you rely on manual emails, notes, texts, or calls. Using the right tools can help you automate a large part of the process, and keep it accurate and simple for everyone.

On Camelo, you can use the Open Shifts feature to create a shift bidding system. Open Shifts enables you to incorporate both self-scheduling and shift bidding, making your scheduling system even more flexible.

create open shifts on camelo for shift bidding
Create open shifts on Camelo app for shift bidding

Shift bidding FAQs

What is a shift bid?

A shift bid is a process where employees bid or choose their preferred work shifts. It typically occurs when there are multiple shifts available or when shifts need to be reassigned. Employees may bid based on factors like desired hours, days off, or shift premiums.

What are some potential challenges with shift bidding?

Shift bidding can come with scheduling issues such as unfair scheduling. If you don’t have specific criteria for deciding who gets the shifts, unintentionally favoring someone is very likely to happen.

Although using shift bids is a way of scheduling to optimize the workforce, not everyone enjoys the pressure of bidding for a shift.

Shift allocation bidding also adds more work for the scheduler because they need to carefully consider who gets each shift, as well as arrange the shifts to avoid scheduling conflicts.

shift bid meme

How does shift bidding differ from self scheduling?

Shift bidding is when employees show their interest in certain shifts by placing a “bid” on them. The person in charge of employee scheduling will look at all employees who are interested and choose the most qualified person for the shift.

Self scheduling is when employees pick open shifts on a first-come, first-served basis. Whoever picks the shift first can take it.

How do you conduct a shift bid?

Here are the main steps for conducting a shift bid:

  • Create shifts for bidding. Set requirements and qualifications if needed.
  • Let employees submit their bids.
  • Review the submissions and choose who will work the shifts.

Are there tools that can help implement shift bidding?

Yes, employee scheduling software like Camelo has features that help you implement shift bidding more easily. Employees can view which shifts are available for bids and place bids. Managers can review bids and choose who will work with a few clicks/taps.

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