If you get schedule planning wrong it can have grave implications for your business. This is not a job that just anyone can do and creating schedules takes a lot of skill and knowledge. Anyone involved with schedule planning needs to know all the ins and outs of the business and how much work there will be on any given day.
When dealing with schedule planning you need to match the needs of the business with the availability of staff on any given day. This involves knowing the skill-mix that will be needed and the exact number of staff who will be required to successfully complete all the tasks that shift. If too many staff are on a shift they will have nothing to do and this will be a waste of resources; if too few staff are on a shift then this can mean that work doesn’t get completed and staff become too stressed and overworked. If the wrong skill-mix is on a shift then this too will have implication for getting the work done. As you can see schedule planning involves being able to juggle many balls.
It is recommended that your schedule planning should be complete at least a week before so that staff can make sure that they are available to work that shift. Changing things at the last minute can be a complete nightmare so if you give staff plenty of notice there should be plenty of time to rearrange things. Unexpected things like sick days are bound to occur, but you want to keep last minute changes to a minimum when it comes to schedule planning.
Simply repeating the same schedule every week is not going to be effective for a number of reasons, but it is wise to give your staff some type of routine if possible. Work demands will always be changing and so will staff availability which means schedule planning will involve regular changes to the employee’s shifts; still it is a good idea to keep this to a minimum if possible.
If you operate a system of rotating shifts where staff do a period of nights followed by a period of days then special considerations should be given in regards to schedule planning. The change for days to nights or vice versa can be physically and mentally demanding for employees so it is important that there is a few days break in-between the change. It is also important that you avoid double-shifts wherever possible as this too can be stressful and unhealthy for staff.
The nightmare scenario for anyone involved in schedule planning is when they have a schedule conflict. This is usually as a result of accidentally scheduling the same member of staff to different locations at the same time. This can be a real headache to sort out and the way to avoid it is by double checking your schedule; this is especially important if you have made a change that affects the rest of the schedule.
Schedule planning is often an unrewarding job because it is not possible to please everyone. Still, there is some reward in knowing how vital this job is to the success of any business.