In 2017, 7Shifts reported 2.44 days as the average time in advance a restaurant posts a schedule for employees to view. This common practice of last-minute scheduling interferes with employee work-life balance. As stated in the Economic Policy Institute’s “Irregular Work Scheduling and Its Consequences,” 26 percent of on-call employees and 19 percent of rotating shift employees report “often” experiencing work-family conflict, compared to 11 percent of workers with regular hours. As you can see, proactive scheduling is conducive to employee satisfaction. Facilitate this necessary process by thinking about the employee scheduling software features and requirements that will help you consistently build successful schedules.
Contrary to some other scheduling-focused tools, employee scheduling software is more tailored to shift-based work. Alternatives such as time and attendance software, workforce management software and all-inclusive human resource management software tend to lean toward industries in which salaried work is more common. This makes employee scheduling software perfect for businesses in the food and retail industries, as well as other industries in which work times aren’t strictly defined.
Choosing the right software is more complicated than finding baseline employee scheduling features, as vendors vary widely in their offerings. It’s important to think about how you would like to build and distribute your business’ schedules, but other requirements are equally essential. This may include integration with other programs, analytics tools, the software’s allowance of employee self-service and others.
The following employee scheduling software requirements list outlines the most-needed features of these tools and the benefits of each:
A central employee scheduling management platform houses information about each of your employees, company structure and locations. This assists in schedule organization and shift management across multiple departments and locales. Comprehensive employee scheduling software serves as a place to view all schedule-related information so it is easily accessible during the building process.
List of Locations
Schedule management is arguably the most crucial function of employee scheduling software. This is the group of features that automates the process of schedule creation. With the assistance of software, building a schedule is more than just putting names on a calendar. Employee scheduling software takes the guesswork out of this necessary process by considering all relevant factors such as employee preferences, budget, conflicts and others — some systems even feature an auto-scheduler that automatically creates a schedule based on these elements.
Adopting employee scheduling software provides a central system for managing all schedules, no matter the size of your business. All employee information will be visible from within the platform, along with a view of multiple departments and locations. From here, you can manage the work times of your entire operation and build a schedule that harmonizes with company-wide needs.
Add or Copy Schedules
Multiple Location Scheduling
Seasonal Employee Scheduling
A comprehensive employee scheduling system will be able to manage a number of different types of shifts. Employees can access the software to pick up open shifts and post their own shift openings. At its simplest, management can use scheduling tools to view open shifts and contact employees to fill those openings. More advanced systems analyze conflicts and provide an alert to users, or automatically correct the issue. Some tools feature skill-based scheduling, which assigns tasks based on ability.
Schedule Conflict Warnings
Positions and Departments
One-Click Staff Confirmation
Time management features serve as protective measures to ensure all employees are reporting their time accurately. Standard time sheets and attendance tracking expand to include non-traditional work, such as overtime, travel and special projects.
Some employee scheduling systems incorporate time tracking into clocking-in processes. Advanced time clock features such as biometric capabilities (utilizing fingerprints, iris scans or other biological factors to clock in) ensure accuracy in attendance reporting.
Time and Attendance Tracking
Project Time Tracking
While the main purpose of employee scheduling software is to keep track of time spent at work, managing absences is equally important. Compiling absence information through an employee scheduling system shows who will be at work when, allowing for proactive management of any gaps in coverage.
A self-service scheduling solution gives employees a platform for requesting time off. Management can view and approve time off requests in a centralized dashboard view.
Time Off Requests
Track Payroll Expenses and Budget
Schedules and payroll are directly intertwined. Obviously, an employee’s work time will affect their compensation. Because of this relationship, it is important for employee scheduling software to have some financial features built in. This can involve a full-service payroll platform tied into the scheduling software or simple payroll data collection in relation to time and attendance.
Scheduling Effectiveness and Tracking
These features take scheduling above and beyond simple shift assigning. Scheduling effectiveness and tracking incorporate analytical functions to determine pain points in your scheduling processes and regulations to keep in mind. All of these considerations contribute to building the best schedule to fit each employee’s preferences, as well as compliance factors.
More advanced effectiveness tools use the analysis of strengths and weaknesses to predict the best schedule-building practices for the future. Observing trends in employee scheduling practices gives your business the means to create a satisfying schedule well in advance, or even allow the software to do so automatically.
An accessible, user-friendly platform allows employees to manage their own schedules. This includes simply abling clocking in and out and viewing schedules, as well as collaborative schedule-building features like shift swapping.
Employee Clock-In and Clock-Out
Claim Open Shift
Shift Swap and Trade
Reporting and Business Intelligence
Business intelligence applications give your company an in-depth view of your scheduling processes. Analysis of employee work times, absences and the related costs demonstrates how scheduling is affecting your overall business plan. Data-based evaluation can show which processes are successful and those that are not, either financially or in relation to company morale.
Employee scheduling software that is enabled with report creation features provides the option to visualize and share these findings. Data visualization presents information in one of the most easy-to-understand formats.
Many reporting tools present data in a dashboard view, complete with real-time updates. With these capabilities, you can connect the data sources you would like to see visualized, choose the presentation format and create, essentially, a living document. A comprehensive BI dashboard can serve as a constant source of up-to-date information of the state of your business (and the scheduling procedures within).
To distribute data to stakeholders, they can be granted access to your dashboards, or exporting features can be used to share a glimpse of the insights as a PDF, image, spreadsheet or other file format.
Time Off Summary
Deciding on a deployment method involves careful evaluation of your employee scheduling software needs, as well as the current infrastructure of your business. On-premise deployment may be best for your business if keeping your systems in-house is preferable. Cloud deployment may be needed for increased security and access.
Mobile capabilities also fall under the deployment umbrella. Today, the ability to manage scheduling via smartphone and tablet applications is widely desired. Not only are mobile features convenient, these capabilities also ensure quick response to shift changes.
Often, your employee scheduling software will need to work in tandem with your other essential business systems. A full scope of your scheduling processes may require connection with a human resource management system, time and attendance software, payroll tools, workforce management software or a business intelligence platform, to name a few integration possibilities.
To accomplish this, streamlined integration abilities are key. This is possible through embeddable data processing tools and open application programming interfaces (APIs).
Employee scheduling software is a necessary tool for businesses with variable work times that rely on some sort of scheduling system to stay organized. The ability to create a schedule that considers all components of your business, satisfying employees and management, is essential. With employee scheduling software, it is possible to foster work-life balance while meeting company goals.
Evaluating your employee scheduling software requirements involves the consideration of the pain points in your current scheduling processes, and what kinds of tools are needed to solve these issues. Think about what is unsatisfying about schedule building and identify the features that will alleviate some of these stressors. A comprehensive employee scheduling system facilitates one of the most core components of staff management.
What are your most important employee scheduling software features? Tell us in the comments!