8 great employee scheduling tips for your small business (2023)

Employee scheduling can be more difficult than you think. Managing time-off requests, working out availability, anticipating staff demand — it’s enough to give you a serious headache. What if there was an easier way to schedule your employees?

In this blog post, we’ll go over:

1. What is employee scheduling?
2. Employee scheduling considerations by industry
3. Employee scheduling tips to help streamline the process

Let’s get started

What is employee scheduling?

Employee scheduling is the process of deciding which days and hours employees will work, and what tasks they will be assigned during those times. This helps ensure that your business has enough people working at all times, and that each employee knows when they’re supposed to be working.

Employee scheduling is important for making sure that work gets done on time and that everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing.

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Employee scheduling considerations by industry

Employee scheduling can vary from industry to industry based on different actors. Different industries may have different requirements for the number of employees needed during certain periods.

Some industries may also have more flexibility in scheduling due to the nature of the work.


Busy periods

Restaurants typically have busy periods during meal times, like breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Scheduling more employees during these times can help restaurants handle increased demand.

Employee availability

Restaurants may have employees who are only available to work certain shifts, like those who have other jobs or family commitments. Scheduling around employee availability helps the restaurant have enough staff scheduled at all times.

Skill level

Different roles within a restaurant may require different skill levels, and employees may have different levels of experience. Scheduling employees with the appropriate skills for each shift can help ensure that everything runs smoothly and that customers are satisfied.

Labor costs

Scheduling too many employees can increase labor costs, while scheduling too few can lead to understaffing and decreased productivity. This applies to all businesses that schedule hourly employees.

Finding the right balance can help keep labor costs under control while ensuring that there are enough employees to meet demand.


Depending on labor laws, scheduling employees for too many hours or over a certain number of days in a row may result in overtime pay. Scheduling employees to avoid overtime can help keep labor costs under control. This applies to all businesses that employee hourly workers.


Sales patterns

Retailers may have busy periods based on sales patterns, such as holiday shopping seasons or end-of-season clearance sales. Scheduling more employees during these times can help ensure that the store can handle the increased demand.

Customer traffic

Different times of day may see more or less customer traffic, and scheduling more employees during peak times can help ensure that customers are able to receive assistance and complete their purchases efficiently.

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Employee skills

Different roles within a retail store may require different skills, and employees may have different levels of experience.

Scheduling employees with the appropriate skills for each shift can help ensure that everything runs smoothly and that customers are satisfied.

Beauty and wellness

Appointment scheduling

Many beauty and wellness businesses like salons and spas, operate on an appointment-based system.

Scheduling the right number of employees to handle appointments can help ensure that clients are seen on time and that the business runs efficiently.

Employee skills

Scheduling employees with the appropriate skills for each service can help ensure that clients are satisfied and that everything runs smoothly.


Patient demand

Medical businesses like hospitals or clinics may have varying demand for services based on patient needs. Scheduling the appropriate number of employees to handle patient demand can help ensure that patients receive timely and appropriate care.

Staffing requirements

Depending on the type of medical business, there may be specific staffing requirements to ensure proper care and safety. Scheduling employees to meet these requirements helps everything run smoothly so that patients receive the best care possible.

Training and certification:

Depending on the specific roles within a medical business, employees may require specific training or certifications. Scheduling employees with the appropriate training and certifications can help ensure that patients are in the right hands.

Employee scheduling tips to help streamline the process

1. Understand your business needs

Understanding your business needs helps ensure that you have the appropriate number of employees with the right skills and availability to meet demand.

Know when your business is busiest and what tasks need to be completed, so you can schedule employees more effectively and efficiently.

2. Know your employees’ skills and strengths

By understanding what each employee is capable of, you can schedule them in a way that plays to their skills and strengths. This can help improve productivity and efficiency, and keep customers satisfied.

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Your employees will also feel more engaged and motivated when they’re assigned tasks that align with their strengths and abilities.

3. Use spreadsheets to create schedules

This is one of the oldest employee scheduling methods, and one that many business owners still use today. Using shift schedule templates on programs like Microsoft Excel will help you assign work shifts, manage absences and track employees.

Although there are more effective employee scheduling methods, spreadsheets will still do the job. You can enter the name of an employee on your document and schedule hours efficiently. You might need a calendar and calculator to help you, though!

4. Plan schedules on paper

Yes, some companies still use paper-based schedules to assign working hours. This employee scheduling method has been used for centuries — it’s cheap, convenient and doesn’t require any software.

There are a number of drawbacks to paper-based schedules, however. It can take a long time to schedule workers with the pen and paper method — half of all employers say they spend at least two hours every week compiling schedules — and you could easily lose your schedule or make mistakes.

Paper-based schedules also make it difficult to comply with federal and local legislation. The proposed Seattle “secured scheduling” law, for example, will require employers in the retail and food and beverages industries to keep schedules for three years and notify employees of schedule changes two weeks in advance.

5. Use social media for scheduling

Some employers are using social media to schedule work shifts. Employees can post their availability and preferred shifts in a private Facebook group, for example. While this method provides more flexibility for employees — especially those who work from home — it can be difficult for employers to track work schedules effectively.

Social media can be beneficial when it comes to sharing work schedule information, however. Employers can post work shift changes on Facebook or Twitter, and employees can access this information on their smartphone or tablet.

6. Leverage Intranet scheduling

Intranet pages provide your staff with a communication hub. Use this platform to keep employees updated with the latest news and developments in your company. You can also use your intranet pages for work schedules.

Employees can manage time-off requests and post their availability, while your HR team can post work schedules in one place.

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7. Allow employees to pick and adjust their own schedule

Giving employees this option can help with scheduling in a few ways. Firstly, it can increase employee satisfaction and engagement since employees are given more control over their work schedule. This can help reduce absenteeism and turnover, as employees are more likely to stay with a company that offers flexible scheduling.

It can also help make sure shifts are always covered, since employees are more likely to show up for a shift they’ve chosen or adjusted themselves. This can reduce the need for last-minute schedule changes or emergency calls to fill a shift.

It also helps reduce the administrative burden on you, your managers or HR staff. Instead of spending time creating and adjusting schedules, you can simply approve or deny employee schedule requests, freeing up time for other tasks.

8. Try employee scheduling software

Employee scheduling software combines several planning tools that make it easier to assign shifts, manage time-off requests and post work schedule updates. Programs like Homebase eliminate many of the errors associated with conventional scheduling methods like spreadsheets and paper-based schedules.

Trusted by over 100,000 businesses, Homebase lets you compile a schedule in just minutes. You can share your schedule with your team, manage changes quickly and view information about your employees on one dashboard.

Scheduling with Homebase

These five shift scheduling methods help you create schedules and shift patterns. While some employers still use traditional methods like pen and paper, new technologies like employee scheduling software have streamlined attendance tracking and workforce management to prevent scheduling issues.

Our work scheduling app makes it easy for you to build schedules and forecast labor costs. You can even manage shifts, time-off requests and schedule changes from your smartphone or tablet. Click here to learn more about Homebase’s free work scheduling software.


What is the best way to set employee schedules?

The best way to set employee schedules is to be predictive of your staffing needs and work with your employees to create reasonable weekly schedules ahead of time. You can use employee scheduling tools to manage timesheets and transparently communicate your scheduling needs to your team.

How do you solve scheduling problems?

You can solve scheduling problems by providing efficient communication tools to enable shift swapping as needed and discouraging absenteeism. Having the right employee scheduling tools in place will help your employees trade shifts and help you manage your staff according to your business needs.

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8 great employee scheduling tips for your small business? ›

It should be simple for employees to access their schedules anytime and from virtually anywhere through a laptop, smartphone or tablet. Convenient accessibility to the application also allows for easy communication access. Messaging can be made from employee to employee, as well as between employees and managers.

How can I be a good staff scheduler? ›

Below are nine employee scheduling techniques to help you schedule employees fairly and fill your business needs.
  1. Think about your scheduling needs ahead of time. ...
  2. Evaluate your staffing levels and availability. ...
  3. Create a list of employees who want extra shifts. ...
  4. Follow local rules and regulations. ...
  5. Publish your schedule early.

What makes a good scheduling system? ›

It should be simple for employees to access their schedules anytime and from virtually anywhere through a laptop, smartphone or tablet. Convenient accessibility to the application also allows for easy communication access. Messaging can be made from employee to employee, as well as between employees and managers.

What is the best work schedule for employees? ›

The most popular work schedule for non-exempt employees is the Monday through Friday, nine-to-five schedule. This schedule delivers a standard 40-hour workweek for employees to accomplish tasks in a predictable manner. Employees who work this schedule are typically considered full-time.

What is the key to successful scheduling? ›

The key to a good schedule is to really be aware of your time and the importance of how you invest your time. A good schedule is not limiting you, but rather bringing you freedom to do the right things. Schedules make sure you stay on point and focused, both in business and life. Embrace them.

What skills make you a successful scheduler? ›

Scheduler Qualifications/Skills:
  • Scheduling.
  • Administrative writing skills.
  • Professionalism, confidentiality, and organization.
  • Reporting skills.
  • Travel logistics.
  • Typing.
  • Verbal Communication.
  • Microsoft Office skills.

What is the best 24 7 shift pattern? ›

What is the best shift pattern to work? The 4 on, 4 off shift pattern model is extremely common and is often used in 24/7 shift work environments.

What is the 5 2 5 3 work schedule template? ›

[5 on 2 off] [5 on 3 off]

This is one of the bigger templates with a rotation lasting 15 weeks. The officer will work 5 days on, 2 days off, 5 days on, and 3 days off. We noticed this pattern was used in law enforcement departments ranging from 25-50 people.

What is a 5 8 40 work schedule? ›

5/8/40: A fixed work schedule consisting of five 8-hour days. 9/8/80: A type of AWWS consisting of eight 9-hour days and one 8-hour day in a two-week period with one scheduled day off every other week. The 8-hour day must be on the same day of the week as the scheduled day off.

What are the 4 ways of scheduling? ›

Below are four popular scheduling techniques used by project managers: Critical Path Method, Program Evaluation and Review Technique, Fast-tracking and crashing, and Gantt charts.

What are the four stages of proper scheduling? ›

The four stages of production scheduling are:
  • Production planning. Production planning is the process in manufacturing that ensures you have sufficient raw materials, labor, and resources in order to produce finished products to schedule. ...
  • Routing. ...
  • Scheduling. ...
  • Execution.
May 16, 2023

What is the healthiest work schedule? ›

In general, 8-hour shifts are preferable to 12-hour shifts. Circadian physiology suggests that morning shifts should begin no earlier than 8:00 am for the physiological best fit to circadian rhythmicity.

What is a 4 3 3 work schedule? ›

Four days ON (first shift) Three days OFF. Four days ON (second shift) Three days OFF.

What is the most efficient break schedule? ›

And the trick might surprise you. Turns out, what the most productive 10% of our users have in common is their ability to take effective breaks. Specifically, the most productive people work for 52 minutes at a time, then break for 17 minutes before getting back to it (similar to the Pomodoro Method—more on that here).

What are the 3 approaches to scheduling? ›

Types of scheduling patterns:

Continuity – Advertise throughout the year and evenly throughout the year. Flighting – Advertise only during some months of the year. Pulsing – It is a mix of both continuity and flighting, where you have a base amount of activity and you increase the media activity during some periods.

What is the simplest technique for scheduling? ›

Task List. The task list is the simplest project scheduling technique of all the techniques available. Documented in a spreadsheet or word processor is the list of all possible tasks involved in a project. This method is simple and the most popular of all methods.

What is the number one goal of scheduling? ›

The main purposes of scheduling algorithms are to minimize resource starvation and to ensure fairness amongst the parties utilizing the resources. Scheduling deals with the problem of deciding which of the outstanding requests is to be allocated resources.

What makes a good master scheduler? ›

Excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail. Thorough understanding of the business and supply chain. Strong analytical and problem-solving skills.

What makes a great scheduling manager? ›

Scheduling managers should have strong communication and interpersonal skills, and should also excel at multitasking, organization, time management, networking, and computer proficiency. If you're interested in becoming a scheduling manager, you'll typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

What makes a good scheduling coordinator? ›

Experience in managing travel bookings and arrangements. Advanced ability to keep stakeholders informed of schedule changes and to answer queries. Ability to coordinate meetings with venue availability. Excellent organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills.

What is the 5 5 4 shift pattern? ›

5/5/4 rotating schedule

The 5/5/4 rotating schedule uses five teams of employees and three overlapping ten-hour shifts to operate 24/7. This system uses a 25-day cycle. For example, Team A works five consecutive 10-hour first shifts, followed by three days off.

What is the 2-2-3 shift pattern? ›

What is the 2-2-3 work schedule? The 2-2-3 shift pattern (also known as the Panama schedule) typically requires four teams of employees to provide adequate 24-hour coverage. Each team works two consecutive day shifts, followed by two days off, followed by three more days of work.

What is the 4 5 5 4 12 hour shift schedule? ›

The system involves four (4) shifts on, five (5) off followed by five (5) shifts on, four (4) shifts off followed by five (5) shifts on, five (5) shifts off, on a continuing basis.

What is the Pitman schedule? ›

The Pitman Schedule is a 14-day rotational cycle in which each employee works 7 12 hour shifts. The Pitman Schedule usually involves 4 teams that work 2 day/night shifts, then get 2 rest days, followed by 3 day/night shifts.

What is a 6 4 work schedule? ›

The 6-4 6-4 6-4 Shift Work Schedule

Six days ON. Four days OFF. Six days ON. Four days OFF.

What is a 5 4 9 schedule example? ›

5-4/9 in which you work 8 9-hour days and 1 8-hour day in the pay period and get an extra day off. 4-10 in which you work 4 10-hour days each week of the pay period and have an extra day of each week.

What is a 9 8 80 work schedule? ›

"9/80s work schedule" is a compressed work schedule which consists of eight 9-hour days, one 8-hour day, and one day off in a 2-week period. Under a typical 9/80 arrangement, employees work four 9-hour days, followed by an 8-hour workday that is split into two 4-hour periods.

What is a 9 9 80 work schedule? ›

A 9/80 work schedule is a way of compressing the standard five-day workweek. With a 9/80 schedule, employees work 80 hours over nine days instead of the usual 80 hours over ten days. In total, an employee works eight nine-hour days, one eight-hour day, and has one day off over the two workweeks.

What is a 9 6 work schedule? ›

9-9-6 means working from 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week.

What are the six scheduling algorithms? ›

Six types of process scheduling algorithms are: First Come First Serve (FCFS), 2) Shortest-Job-First (SJF) Scheduling, 3) Shortest Remaining Time, 4) Priority Scheduling, 5) Round Robin Scheduling, 6) Multilevel Queue Scheduling.

What are the 6 elements of planning and scheduling? ›

The entire planning and scheduling program should include work identification, work planning, work scheduling, work execution, work completion and work analysis.

What are scheduling strategies? ›

Scheduling strategies are driven by the scheduling trigger (the circumstance driving the scheduling approach). Based on individual needs and circumstances, scheduling triggers demand either a forwards or backwards planning approach.

What is the most common type of scheduling? ›

The most common method of appointment scheduling is computerized scheduling. The second most common method is appointment book scheduling.

What are the rules of scheduling? ›

Scheduling Rules
  • Activity Priority. The Activity Priority scheduling rule specifies that activities in the waiting list (for resources) should be sorted in the order of increasing values of their priority.
  • Delayed Late Start. ...
  • Late Start Time. ...
  • Late Finish Time. ...
  • Resource Priority. ...
  • Shortest Duration.

What is the basic principle of scheduling? ›

The basic principles of scheduling are pretty straightforward: define the scope, develop milestones and dependencies between tasks, assign resources to complete each task, and then follow up with regular reporting to monitor progress and ensure that the plan is on track.

What is unhealthy work hours? ›

So how much work is too much? A recent study by the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization shows that working more than 55 hours a week can have negative effects on your health.

Is a 2 2 3 work schedule good? ›

If traveling is their way to relax and spend their free time, working on a 2-2-3 schedule gives them plenty of opportunities for planning weekend getaways. Also, this shift pattern enables employees to work only 180 days a year, which makes their lives more relaxing.

What is the best 4 10 work schedule? ›

4/10 workweeks are the most popular example of compressed schedules. Often, a 4/10 work schedule consists of Monday through Thursday as working days, with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off. However, employees may request a day other than Friday off to take care of matters outside of work.

What is a 5 3 5 4 schedule? ›

It consists of a 25 day cycle where each team works five consecutive 10-hour first shifts, followed by 3 days off duty, works five consecutive 10-hour third shifts, followed by 4 days off duty, works five consecutive 10-hour second shifts, followed by 3 days off duty.

What is a 7 7 schedule? ›

Employees working 7on/7off are considered full-time hourly employees and are scheduled to work seven consecutive days (56 hours) in a 14-day period (Wednesday through Tuesday). This allows the employee to work a Wednesday through Tuesday schedule with every other weekend off.

What is a 5 4 work schedule? ›

5-4/9 CWS - a type of compressed work schedule in which an employee meets the 80-hour work requirement by working four 9-hour days and one 8-hour day during one workweek plus four 9-hour days and a day off during the alternate week, in addition to the established lunch period for the Office.

What is the 52 17 rule? ›

Scientists have even figured out the perfect formula for this break, down to the minute. It's the 52/17 rule: 52 minutes on, 17 minutes off. Downtime replenishes attention and motivation, creativity and productivity.

What is the 5 minute break method? ›

The Pomodoro Technique
  1. Pick a task.
  2. Set a 25 minute timer.
  3. Work until the timer is up.
  4. Take a 5 minute break.
  5. Reset the timer and repeat until your task is complete.

How do I make my weekly schedule efficient? ›

Strategies for Creating Your Weekly Schedule
  1. Plan for real life. Be realistic about what you can accomplish each day. ...
  2. Give yourself enough time. Budget at least 1 hour of homework for every hour of class time.
  3. Plan study time. ...
  4. Plan time for fun. ...
  5. Don't over commit. ...
  6. Spread things out.
Mar 13, 2023

What skills do you need to be a scheduler coordinator? ›

Requirements and skills
  • Proven work experience as a Scheduling Coordinator or similar role.
  • Advanced proficiency in scheduling software.
  • Extensive experience with office software, including MS Word, Excel and Outlook Express.
  • Advanced knowledge of confirming and rescheduling appointments, as well as recordkeeping practices.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a staff scheduler? ›

Accurately records all calls/dialogue with staff that impact scheduling. Maintains employee confidentiality with regards to availability, contact information or scheduling decisions. Maintains knowledge of all Collective Agreements as they relate to scheduling, seniority, payroll and coding.

How do you demonstrate scheduling skills? ›

How to demonstrate scheduling skills on your resume
  1. Implemented application of according policies and procedures in project workflows, which raised efficiency within the organization by 25%
  2. Managed and monitored development of schedules for 10+ local and international projects.

What skills do you need to be a scheduling manager? ›

Scheduling managers should have strong communication and interpersonal skills, and should also excel at multitasking, organization, time management, networking, and computer proficiency. If you're interested in becoming a scheduling manager, you'll typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

What three words characterize a great scheduling coordinator? ›

The top three keywords employers use in Scheduling Coordinator job descriptions are Scheduling appearing in 33.83% of postings, Customer Service 15.61%, and Communication Skills appearing in 10.39%.

Do you need experience to be a scheduler? ›

Aspiring schedulers, with at least two years of relevant work experience and the skills necessary for the position, should apply for a job in the field.

What are the responsibilities of a senior scheduler? ›

Senior schedulers are professionals who are responsible for developing detailed construction planning schedules for new construction and renovation works. These schedulers are required to monitor project progress as well as prepare detailed plans and time-scaled charts and diagrams.

What are the three types of job scheduler in a process scheduling? ›

Three types of the scheduler are 1) Long term 2) Short term 3) Medium-term. Long term scheduler regulates the program and select process from the queue and loads them into memory for execution.

What is the job description for a master scheduler? ›

Master Scheduler Responsibilities:

Create daily production schedules. Ensure that all relevant staff members receive the production schedule. Supervise staff members to ensure that deadlines are met. Check the quality of products to ensure that they meet client expectations.

What are the 3 most important objectives of scheduling? ›

(i) In order to meet the delivery dates the sequence of operations is properly planned. (ii) To have minimum total time of production by having better resources utilisation. (iii) For having maximum capacity utilization and reducing the labour cost by minimization of idleness of machines and manpower.

What are the five steps of scheduling? ›

5 steps to create a perfect project scheduling process
  • Identify the scope of the project. Before you start project scheduling, you need to know what you are scheduling your resources for. ...
  • Prepare the estimates. ...
  • Resource management. ...
  • Create the final timeline. ...
  • Track progress and make necessary changes.

What 3 types of skills do all managers need? ›

Robert Katz identifies three types of skills that are essential for a successful management process:
  • Technical skills.
  • Conceptual skills.
  • Human or interpersonal management skills.

How can I be a good shift manager? ›

The best Shift Managers are those who can communicate with customers and other employees to find a compromise, keeping both parties happy. They should know how not to be rigid or inflexible to avoid creating more problems than necessary for the customer's sake and their team members' satisfaction.


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