7 Efficient Ways to Avoid Employee Scheduling Nightmares

by | 6 Jan. 2017

 6 min read

An efficient, reliable workforce is one of the most important resource- if not the most important- for any kind of business. It’s only natural that your workforce has to be well managed in order to accomplish the work they are supposed to. However, last minute events such as absences, sick-leaves or time off may get into your way.

Add that to payrolls issues due to a bad tracking of hours and employee scheduling can quickly become a real headache. Obviously these kinds of issues have a negative impact on your team’s performance. Besides, as a manager, you already have a lot on your plate between achieving company goals and project deadlines. That is why, I worked on a few tips that will help you fill in the gaps and get over employee scheduling nightmares.


Your schedules must be planned in advance and this should not be up for discussion. No matter what kind of excuses you are ready to find – lack of time, process restrictions… – planning in advance is crucial to avoid employee scheduling issues. It will enable you to know who’s available and who’s not. Additionally, you will be able to inform your team in advance and that will clearly reduce last minute call offs.

Because, yes ! Work is important but you can’t expect your whole staff to disrupt their lives because of last-minute schedules ; keep in mind that they have personal obligations. Plus, if you show them that you take into account their personal obligations and that you are respectful enough to organize yourself and plan in advance they will appreciate it and may be more willing to take an extra shift when you need them to.

On their side, they will have the opportunity to let you know if they can’t make it on a specific day, which will give you time to rearrange your schedule


Planning in advance is also a good way to consider worst case scenarios at the same time. As you are doing your schedules you should always consider emergencies. That way you will be able to think of a plan B, you will avoid stress and panic when employee scheduling issues come up.


Usually, I wouldn’t advice to go for on call workers because it will increase your costs. But if your business requires to have someone very quickly then it might be a good solution to help fill in the gaps. This kind of solution could work amazingly if you are in the hospitality business for instance, if an employee calls you two hours before a busy evening telling you they have an emergency and cannot make it, then on call workers is your solution.


It’s time to make technology work for you! You can find all the temporary solutions you want, but honestly, an employee scheduling solution is THE BEST way to  avoid employee scheduling issues. It will help you on so many levels. First, an employee scheduling solution will enable you to have, at a glance, an overall vision of your team availability. In form of a graphic dashboard, your schedule will display all the necessary information regarding the staff : task, amount of time to work, availability, location…

This will definitely help reducing schedule conflicts such as double-bookings, scheduling on time off or on task. Another great aspect of an employee  scheduling software is that it will give you the possibility to forecast your team workload and draft schedules very easily. Most employees scheduling solutions have, indeed, powerful analysis features that will enable you create realistic forecast taking into account staff workload, time off, competencies…

Be aware though ! The employee scheduling solution you will decide to use must have certain criteria in order to do a good job, so make sure you think about your needs and put together a feature wishlist before exploring the market.


Pay attention when allocating a person to a specific task. Allocating an employee to a task they do not have the right competency for can turn out to be unproductive. Not only the employee in charge can take a lot of time to catch up, but he/she might get discouraged by the difficulty of the task and – worst case scenario – quit! Don’t forget that a job well done is also a matter of positive work conditions so the more adapted the employee is to the task the better. Here an employee scheduling solution can be a great help since you can have files about every employee where you can enter all the necessary information about them including competencies.


Absenteeism and high employee turnover are a strong problematic for every HR manager. I happen to think that when such issues keep occurring it means that something has to be done at the HR strategy level. Plus, we live in a period where people value more work-life balance than financial advantages. Thus, if you realize that most of your staff gets discouraged and take frequent sick-leaves, too much time off in a row or arrive late too often at work, it might translate a certain discontent about work. You could try to change your HR policy regarding working conditions. For instance, you could limit the number of working hours in a row and allow a few days per month of home office – I bet employees will be more productive and steady.


On top of rethinking your HR policy – if you think there’s a need to – make sure that everybody is clearly aware of the process and rules they have to follow. I found out that, in a lot of cases, last minute absences are due to unclarified or miscommunicated HR policies. For instance, if you let them know very clearly – and without no exception – that HR requires time off notification two weeks prior to the date, then everybody will apply the rule and you’ll have more time to plan your staff schedules. Flexibility and respect towards your staff is necessary and will always be much appreciated, but it has to be both ways and at some point you need rules to be able to manage a team effectively.

The good news is some top-notch scheduling software offer collaboration features, making it easy to communicate HR policies to your whole team. You can even implement business rules in the application to prevent staff from booking time off when they are not supposed to.

As you have noticed by reading this article, there are quite a few solutions to help you prevent or deal with employee scheduling issues. Of course, emergencies can always happen because real life has a funny tendency to get in your way at inappropriate times, but by implementing simple solutions upfront, you can significantly decrease those employee scheduling issues and make work easier for you and your team.


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