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The Beginner’s Guide to Making Shift Planning Simple

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managing shifts with staff

When you’re first starting out, shift planning can seem like a daunting task! Check out this beginner’s guide and make your scheduling woes go away.

Sociological studies and human resource experts agree that better scheduling increases job satisfaction. When employees and managers feel like they have control over their time and have a schedule balanced to their lives, they are happier and work more efficiently. When you’re starting a business, shift planning can be a headache if you don’t prepare.

Your staff can be one of the biggest expenditures for a small business. Training and onboarding staff can cost thousands in labor, lost revenue, and slowed productivity. That puts a lot of pressure on finding good staff and planning your days out.

If your small business is taking on some of your first employees or if you’ve grown to the point where you need to take shift planning seriously, you need to prepare. Follow these 6 tips to ensure that you make schedules that accommodate employees and make good business sense with costs.

1. Pay Attention To The Seasons

There are very few industries that don’t change seasonally. The oil industry changes during the winter for heating and during the summer for travel. The light bulb industry changes to accommodate longer and shorter days throughout the year.

No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll have fatter and leaner days especially in hospitality like a restuarant. Make sure that you’ve got the right amount of staff for each season. Shift planning requires you to know how sales fluctuate in your own industry.

You can do online research, ask other business owners, or look at past trends if you’ve been in business for more than a year. Whichever route you take, make sure you’re doing the math to predict which holidays are busy as well.

Forgetting about a simple bank holiday could leave you wildly understaffed during what could be one of the best days of the year. Leaving customers unhelped or unsatisfied could leave a bad taste in their mouth in the future.

2. Know Your Own History

Having a well-organized spreadsheet or calendar tracking your sales history is essential to understanding your business. While you can surely make broad generalizations after just a year in business, historical trends show you when shifting planning matters and when it’s less important to worry about.

If the amount of money you’re spending on staffing starts to dig into your overall profits, you could make things harder for your business and your staff. Having them standing around with no work to do isn’t good for anyone. They’d rather be home, and you’d rather not be paying them.

Paying employees to work slow shifts will leave you without the help you need when things are busier. See if you can get a readout from your software or clock schedule system to aid this project.

3. Focus On Your Market

If you’re in the food industry, you need to know whether you’re at a breakfast stop, lunch spot, or dinner place. Even if you provide menus for every potential time of day, every company has a niche.

Most business owners want their products to serve everyone in the world. The reality is that there is a target market for every product and service. The better you understand that market, the better you can prepare for shift planning.

If your typical customer spends weekends with your products or services, go easy on the weekends. If you serve people who don’t adhere to a 9-5 schedule, figure out when they need you.
Rather than leave this up to guessing, you can come out and ask.

Put together an online survey for your most loyal customers. Give them a small discount in exchange for participating in your survey. You’ll get valuable data that can help save you money and perhaps introduce your customers to a new product.

4. Make Clearly Defined Roles

Shift planning requires that everyone comes in for work knowing what’s expected of them. If they complete their work early, they can go home and save you valuable budget funds.

If you keep roles too loose, people could end up doing the wrong grade of work. If you’re paying a mid-level employee to do low-level work, you won’t have anything for your low-level employee to do. It’s more budget-conscious if your mid-level employee does mid-level or high-level tasks.

Beware of having employees doing work too highly out of their pay grade. They could make mistakes that could cost you money through returned products or through high-level employees undoing mistakes.

Stay on top of any major trends in cost-cutting efforts. If you’re saving in other ways, you won’t be pinching pennies when it comes to staffing.

5. Give Yourself Breaks

While you’re shift planning, most management and executives forget to make time for themselves. The more tired you are, the apter you are to make simple mistakes. Giving yourself a day off with a strong scheduling strategy will keep you efficient and give you time to strike a work and life balance.

Taking a day off shouldn’t be a rare treat. It should be a regular and weekly 1-2 days where you let go of the wheel.

6. Mistakes Happen

Afford yourself the ability to make mistakes. No shift planning strategy is perfect from day one.
You’ll need some trial and error to get things right.

You won’t know the complete details of every job role until you start doing them.
Learn from yourself and from your employees. Listen to what they need and respond to show your appreciation.

The better you get at staff scheduling, the happier your employees and clients will be.

Shift Planning Saves Costs

If you plan your shifts correctly, you will maintain a steady balance between profit and loss. This will allow you to always collect a percentage of profit that will help your business to grow. As you grow larger, your staffing needs will change, but you can scale without losing any additional profit if you abide by strong principles.

If you find yourself growing to the point of needing a new office, follow our guide on what to look for in a new location.