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What is Shift Planning?

Shift planning involves scheduling employees for work so that your company is appropriately staffed and operational at all times. Shift planning challenges include time and labor costs, legal compliance, employee needs and human error.
Time and attendance software reduces shift-planning errors and lowers your labor costs. This article is for small business owners who want to improve their shift planning processes using time and attendance software. If only scheduling your employees for shifts could be as easy as creating a grid with pencil and paper. This longtime shift planning approach is often as tedious for employers as it is annoying for employees, but time and attendance software presents solutions for both you and your team. Learn more below.

Shift planning is the scheduling of employees to fill each of your company’s required roles during a given time frame. Perhaps the most obvious shift planning example is how a small cafe might work:

To open at the crack of dawn, someone has to take the 5:00 a.m. shift. However, that employee likely won’t work until the cafe closes. Instead, another employee will come in at some point to perform the same work for the rest of the day. When that employee comes in, say at 1:00 p.m., the first employee will be relieved; their shift ends when the next employee’s shift begins.

Reporting and forecasting. Perhaps the most important shift planning feature besides scheduling itself – reporting and forecasting features – can determine how your schedule will impact your sales. As an example, suppose your restaurant is expecting a rush for Restaurant Week and you need extra staff. In this case, your software can use last year’s schedule and sales data to suggest this year’s ideal shift plan.

Easier access. If you need to change your employees’ shifts while you’re out of the office, you can easily do so since most time and attendance software is cloud-based and/or accessible via mobile application. You can also allow certain senior employees to set or modify shifts as well.

Fewer errors. Above all, time and attendance software minimizes the number of costly shift planning errors you might make. Your software should alert you if you schedule an employee when they’re not available or accidentally put too many of the same type of employee on one shift. With time and attendance software, you not only save time – you have greater control over your shifts than you would using a pencil and paper system.

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