shift planning cover

Shift Planning: How to Plan Shifts in an Organized Way

Have you ever wished you could throw away all those paper schedules and spreadsheets that eat up hours of your time?

When you plan shifts manually, things are messy. Sometimes, you put more workers into a deserted shift. Sometimes, you don’t schedule enough staff when your business gets crowded.

Staff get overwhelmed, exhausted, and irritated. You get drowned in paperwork. And human error is inevitable, which costs you more than you expected.

When no one is happy, you know it’s time to upgrade your shift planning. But how?

In this post, we’ll talk about everything you need to know to do so.

What is shift planning?

Shift planning means you plan schedules for employees, especially in shift-based industries such as hospitality or healthcare. 

Shift planning actually includes a huge amount of work: managing availability, handling time-off and leave requests, balancing work hours, limiting overtime, scheduling based on business demands, etc.

For most small businesses, team managers and business owners are often in charge of shift planning. They’ve already had a lot on their plate, so scheduling is usually a huge problem in terms of time and costs.

The most common types of shift planning are digital spreadsheets and paper schedules. However, thanks to advanced technology, many companies have shifted to automated, cloud-based scheduling apps. 

Scheduling apps can handle all tasks in the shift planning process, making it easier for both managers and employees. Managers can match employees with suitable shifts and have an overview of labor resources, while employees can manage their own work shifts better.

If you’re running a business that relies on shift work, effective shift planning will make business operations smooth and well-oiled.

Benefits of shift planning

Control labor costs better

One of the biggest benefits of shift planning is that you can better control labor costs.

When planning shifts properly, you’ll avoid understaffing and overstaffing.

Understaffing means there’s not enough staff in a shift. Service can get slow, which irritates customers and drives them away. The staff of that shift can be overwhelmed with too much work, making them exhausted and dissatisfied. That’s not to mention you have to pay for unplanned overtime if the shift demand is too large.

Overstaffing means you schedule more staff than needed for a shift, which equals unnecessary labor costs.

Both understaffing and overstaffing ignite problems in your business. Employees may be disengaged, resulting in a higher turnover rate. They can compare their amount of work, resulting in internal conflicts. All come with high costs.

a manager is calculating expenses and budgets

Increases employee productivity and engagement

When staff have more control over their shifts, they’re more engaged, responsible, and productive. What does it mean, having more control?

  • Employees can choose open shifts or swap shifts.
  • Employees can have shifts that match their skills, preferences, life circumstances, and more.
  • Everyone is clear about and well-prepared for their shifts. They know exactly when and where to work in advance.

When you schedule the right staff for each shift, you’ll benefit from it, too.

  • Staff are qualified enough to meet customer demand.
  • Each shift is filled with the right number of staff, boosting your business productivity and optimizing your spending.
  • When staff are engaged, they’re less likely to quit. You don’t have to constantly hire and train new people.

Increases flexibility

Businesses have to face fluctuating demand all the time. That’s why it’s vital to have a flexible shift planning process. You can quickly react to difficult situations such as no-calls, no-shows, emergencies, job abandonment, etc. Or you can call in some standby staff during peak seasons.

How to do shift planning properly

Review business demand and labor resources

Understanding these 2 aspects can help you better match your workers with the shift demand. 

Consider these factors:

  • Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, seasonally customer demand
  • Employees’ preferences
  • Roles and requirements for each shift

Talk to employees

You can look at all the data you want, but you must not neglect employees’ opinions. Shift planning isn’t only about your business demand, but it’s also about making your employees happy and stay.

You can:

  • Find out which shifts employees like and don’t like.
  • Ask them about the right number of staff for each shift.
  • Find out hidden problems in each shift, something you can’t see but your staff can.
  • Explain why they need to work shifts they don’t like. Let them know they’re important to your business.
a manager is talking to a staff

Choose a type of shift planning

Each business and each industry has different requirements in terms of shift types.

Consider these factors when choosing a shift plan for your business:

  • Opening hours (24/7 or 9-5?)
  • How many shifts your business have each day?
  • Do you need rotating shifts? Night shifts? Swing shifts? Overlapping shifts? Split shifts?

Create schedules around your best staff

This is to make sure that the best employees are always present, especially during busy times. If your business often has new hires, these senior staff can help with training and keeping the workflow well-oiled.

Plan for unexpected events

Unexpected events happen all the time if you run a shift-based business. You should have backup plans for these situations. What would you do if someone doesn’t show up without prior notice? What would you do if a staff quits without telling you?

Select the best shift planning tools

Now that you have all the information you need, it’s time to decide on the right shift planning tool. Although there are many types of tools, we recommend using the best shift planning software. 

Why? Because:

  • You can create work schedules and distribute them to staff quickly.
  • Staff don’t miss important information. They always know what they’re expected to do.
  • You can control labor data better.
  • Employee schedules, time-off requests, and team messages are organized in one place.

Spreadsheets and paper schedules have their own benefits, but most of the time, they’re messy and time-consuming. Read more about their problems here.

shift planning on the Camelo scheduling app
Shift planning on Camelo

Camelo is a scheduling app that will save your time and energy on scheduling and managing your workforce.

But how can the Camelo scheduling app help? 

You can:

  • Set requirements for shifts (overtime, locations, availability, etc.).
  • Set the right number of employees to cover each shift.
  • Gather labor data for better shift planning in the future.

Employees can:

  • Pick open shifts and swap shifts.
  • Find the work-life balance they need and have better control over their lives.

So everyone’s happy, both you and your staff. Give Camelo a try and see how your work life can be improved.

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