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The Beginner’s Guide to Making Shift Planning Simple

how to schedule employees work

how to schedule employees work

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.

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. 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, historic 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 a breakfast stop, lunch spot, or a 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 product 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 be able to 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 in order 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 if you abide by strong principles, you can scale without losing any additional profit.

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.

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Management

4 Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating in the Workplace

food

foodA healthier workforce is a more engaged and productive one. A lot of people overlook the impact eating habits can have on cognitive functions, mood, and concentration. But by making a few adjustments to your workplace and company culture, you could help your employees make healthier food choices.

Here are a few simple ways you could encourage healthy eating in the workplace.

Use Snack Services

There are plenty of snack services out there that will allow you to provide snacks to your employees for cheap. They allow you to buy various snacks in bulk so you can save on total costs. They’re also a great way to show that you actually care about your employees’ wellbeing.

However, not all of them are created equal and some might be healthier than others. While an office snack service like Naturebox will be focused mainly on providing healthy office snacks like dried fruits, nuts, and low-calorie options, others won’t have as wide a selection and will offer your usual run-of-the-mill snacks with a few “healthy” options. If you want to know more about snack services and which one would be best for you, Bevi has a great article about them. Bevi also supplies beverages for the office, including water dispensers.

Incentivize your Employees

There are plenty of ways you could make things easier for your employees and incentivize healthy eating. Some companies, for instance, will have free fruit around the office or will allow their employees to have access to mineral water. If you have vending machines, make sure that you stock them up with healthy foods as well as the usual snacks. And make sure that healthy options are much cheaper as well.

Do not Neglect Break Time

You have to institute a culture in your business where your employees feel free to enjoy a full lunch break and sufficient screen break time as well. This will encourage healthy eating habits and reduce stress as well. Make sure that they don’t eat at their desk and consider giving flexible break hours so they can get out and stretch their legs. A lunch hour should be long enough to let them go out and enjoy a healthy meal if they want to. Enjoying fresh air will also leave them invigorated for the second half of the day.

Make Sure that it’s a Clear Part of your Company Culture

If you want your employees to truly dedicate themselves to healthy eating, it has to be part of your company’s mission and put down in writing. Make sure that your commitment to healthy eating and overall health is part of the staff handbook. You should also make it clear to your staff that your mission will translate into actual policy. Let them know that healthy eating options will be subsidized or completely free of charge. Also, make sure that you consider adopting a corporate food plan if you have a cafeteria.

Conclusion

Making sure that your employees adopt healthy eating habits is not only an investment in their well-being but in your business as well. If you want to enjoy a happier and healthier workforce that will run on all cylinders, make sure to make healthy eating a must in your workplace.

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Management

How to Make Money from Home as a Freelance Writer

self publish a book

how to overcome writer's blockIf you have ever considered becoming a freelance writer your first and biggest question is probably “how do I begin making money as a freelance writer”? Knowing where and how to look for jobs is the first step in your freelance writing career.

There are plenty of ways to get paid but in this article, we give you 5 of the best methods for getting work as a beginner freelance writer.

Enter Writing Contests

Writing contests are a great option for freelance writers of any experience level because they do not differentiate between beginner writers and established professionals. Winning of these would be a great achievement for any resume and are sure to spruce up portfolios.

There are many competitions open to the public so do your research and see what opportunities are available to you. Prizes range from small cash payments to publications of your written works. Many of these competitions are free to enter so take the opportunity and submit your works today.

Job Boards

There are many ways for freelancers to make money online, you can find out more here. However, a common beginning point for freelance writers looking to get their first clients is to pitch for jobs on job boards. It is as simple as registering for an account and filling out applications or bidding on jobs. There are a ton of wiring jobs available on these boards and the clients are looking for people with a base level writing ability and a strong work ethic.

Start a Blog

Every writer needs a blog and these days bloggers are monetizing their blog through affiliate marketing. Running a blog can benefit you as a writer in many ways including contributing to your portfolio, creating lead generation, build up your credibility and give you confidence as a writer. Your blog will help you develop your style and target audience. The goal to successfully monetizing your blog is to pick a successful niche and developing a strong social media presence.

Guest Post

As a writer you should be following and supporting other bloggers and their sites. Consider pitching a guest post to your favorite authors. Most blogs accept guest posts and a lot of them are willing to pay for quality content from their guests. Before you send your pitch make sure you take the time to research the blog extensively. What is the style of writing? What is the niche? Develop a pitch that fits in nicely with site you are hoping to guest post for.

Self-Publish your Own Books

Amazon Direct Publishing has made it easy for writers of all experience levels to self-publish paperbacks and ebooks. The best part is that it is free to publish through KDP. Al you have to do is upload your book and wait for people to start purchasing it. Write about your book in your blog and post it all over your social media accounts to help gain some traffic and awareness. With KDP you can earn up to 70% in royalties, keep control of the rights, set your own prices and make changes to the book at any time.

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Management

4 Tools That Will Help You Keep Focus in Meetings

stress ball

stress ball

Keeping everybody focused on any kind of meeting can be quite a challenge. People are easily distracted and they get bored, especially in long meetings that drone on. However, there are some tools that can help keep focus during a meeting.

Did you know that whiteboards are a critical part of meetings nowadays? It’s one of the focus tools we will look at today.

Visuals

One big help when it comes to the meeting is anything visual. There is a reason why people use tools like PowerPoint, graphs, images, and other types of visuals in meetings – because they help keep focus much better than words alone.

Have you ever been in a meeting, or maybe listening to a school presentation, where a person drones on? It can get boring if a person relies solely on words to get a point across. It can become boring and hard to focus on.

However, when you add snazzy visuals and colorful graphs into the mix, it helps to catch the eyes of those watching and listening. It also helps provide a minor break from word-only presentations that are hard to focus on.

Visuals always help with presentations, not to mention that they are great for getting across points and hammering them home, points out that words alone have trouble getting across.

Recording Device

One of the tools that can be used to help keep focus in meetings is a recording device of sorts. This could be anything; as long as it allows you to record a meeting, it should work fine. This could be an old-school tape recorder, a phone, tablet, or anything else that can record voice.

The point here is that during meetings, people often try and jot down notes and write down what the speaker is saying.

However, this actually distracts from the task at hand, because when people are writing notes, they are n’t listening or taking in additional information. It is actually pretty hard to take a new point in when you are also writing the last point down.

Therefore, a recording device to record all things said in a meeting can come in handy.

Instead of having people write down notes and lightning speed and not absorb information; people can actually listen to what is being said. Then, instead of referring to notes for reference, they can simply listen to the recording.

Stress Ball

This might seem like an odd tool when it comes to helping people keep focus in meetings, but it does work. Some people probably wouldn’t qualify stress balls as being tools, but in reality, they are.

Stress balls are those little softballs which people have in their hands and squeeze to relieve stress. They might be stress relief tools, but this is exactly why they can help people focus.

People don’t listen well when they are stressed out, and a stress ball helps to combat this. Furthermore, many people have to be doing something with their hands, which is why they invented those fidget spinners that were a big deal last year. It’s hard to focus on a meeting when you are constantly looking for something for your hands to do.

A stress ball in your hands can solve both of these problems quite adequately. Make sure you don’t get a noisy one, or else everybody else in the meeting room will not be happy with you.

Whiteboard

When it comes down to it, one of the most useful tools to help keep people focused during a meeting is undoubtedly the whiteboard. This has to do with our first point – that visuals help to keep attention.

Whiteboards are pretty big, they have great contrast between the surface and the colored markers, and they allow for great organization.

Whoever is leading the meeting can use various colors of markers to jot down the most important ideas, which are easy for everybody to see.

Whiteboards are also highly portable, so they can be moved from one meeting room to another. If you did not already know, whiteboards are becoming a staple of every meeting room and classroom out there today.

Conclusion

These 4 items or tools that we have discussed here today are fantastic for helping you and others keep their focus during meetings. It can be hard to keep focus, especially in a long meeting and in a room full of people. Hopefully, you can put these items to good use to increase focus and productivity.

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