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When most managers think about employee scheduling and productivity, they’re thinking about how they can eke out the most hours out of each employee as possible. But what if this is the wrong view? What if you should really be focused on scheduling employees for the right hours?

Understanding the Need for Better Scheduling

As a manager or business owner, employee scheduling is probably a thorn in your side. It’s a task you know needs to be handled with care, yet you often drag your feet and make decisions that aren’t in the best interest of your company.

In most cases, a lack of proper scheduling is directly correlated to a misunderstanding of the need for it. Whereas a lack of real-time scheduling increases employee turnover by as much as 174 percent, proper scheduling habits reduce business expenses, increase output, and amplify employee retention. Clearly there’s value in paying attention to this aspect of management. But where do you start?

How to Improve Employee Scheduling

Improving employee scheduling starts with an understanding of the need for stricter and more efficient habits. Keeping this in mind, practical suggestions like these will prove helpful in optimizing your employee scheduling process.

1. Understand Strengths and Weaknesses

“Really knowing your team members gives you the freedom and the flexibility to mix and match skills, strengths, weaknesses, and personality types (just to name a few) to create the perfect shift for any situation,” one scheduling expert explains.

Before you can develop proper schedules, you need to understand who your employees are and what they bring to the table. Having said that, take some time to get to know the people within your company so you can adjust accordingly.

2. Know When People Work Best

Part of evaluating people is knowing when employees work best. Some people do better in the mornings, while other people hit their peak later at night. Whenever possible, you want to work with employees on this, rather than trying to fit them into a shift that fights their natural disposition.

3. Ensure Proper Rest

The average person is acutely aware of their need for more sleep. We often complain about being tired around the clock, yet do very little to remedy the problem. Our ambitious natures and congested schedules make the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep nearly impossible to achieve with any consistency – at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

The reality is that proper sleep can be a life or death matter. (One study suggests night owls – or those who stay up until the wee hours of the morning – actually face an increased risk of mortality.) While certain businesses obviously have to staff employees overnight, the point is that you need to ensure your employees have room for adequate rest in their schedules. Oscillating back and forth between first, second, and third shifts isn’t good for anyone. Create some predictability in order to ensure proper rest.

4. Use a Real-Time Scheduling Tool

If you do all of your scheduling manually, you’re most certainly failing to get optimal value out of your employees. What you need is a real-time scheduling tool that helps you maximize your resources.

A tool like SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization by ClickSoftware has been shown to boost employee productivity by an average of 17 percent. This may be worth looking into.

Adding It All Up

Whatever you do, don’t take employee scheduling lightly. Research and common sense reveal that proper scheduling increases productivity and lowers turnover. As you let this marinate, make sure you’re looking for ways to automate and optimize your scheduling practices so that they benefit the bottom line.

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