6 Tips for Scheduling Your On-Call Staff

By February 13, 2019 No Comments
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Employee scheduling is an important task for every business. Scheduling too few employees puts you at risk to not provide a positive customer experience. Scheduling too many employees is bad for your bottom line. Finding an ideal balance means getting your business needs to match employees’ availability. That is not an easy puzzle to figure out.

Many businesses use on-call employees to help meet scheduling needs. On-call employee scheduling may be beneficial to businesses like yours, but it has also seen its fair share of criticism in recent years.

Here are six tips to use when scheduling on-call employees.

1. Hire specific on-call employees
Trying to force current employees to accept an on-call schedule will only backfire. Hiring employees to exclusively fill on-call spots with the opportunity to move into a consistent schedule is a better solution. This gives you available employees that agree to the terms of on-call employment. Using this as a way to introduce employees to your business lets you see who is capable of the job before committing to a weekly schedule.

2. Look at the data
Data tells you a lot about your business, customers and employee needs. Pull sales and staffing information from the past year. Look for trends or times you had too many or too few employees scheduled. This information gives you a better idea of how many on-call employees you need to schedule.

3. Set a fair notice time
For an on-call process to fully work, you need to be considerate of your employee’s time. Establish a timeline of when they can expect to hear from you before their potential shift. Giving them notice early in the day or shift allows them to the freedom to reschedule their time if you don’t need them or take care or necessary tasks if you do. Freedom results in happier employees that won’t mind an on-call shift from time to time.

4. Let employees sign up for on-call slots
Maybe your need for on-call employees isn’t permanent or you don’t have the capability to interview and hire on-call only employees. Express your needs to your existing staff and give them the option to sign up for open on-call slots. This makes them feel like you aren’t forcing them to do something they don’t want to. It also makes them feel like they are still in control of their time.

5. Communicate with employees
Giving employees 24-hour notice that they will be on call on a Friday night is a bad idea. Especially if they are valuable employees that you want to retain. Communicate in advance with employees, so they are aware weeks ahead of time. This gives them ample time to make changes to their personal schedule. It is also important that you communicate the importance of their help with on-call time slots. If they understand it’s not just about paying as little as possible in payroll, they will be more willing to help.

6. Schedule the right employees
Scheduling any team member to fill shift is bad for business. Make sure you are matching employees with what they know and understand. When you schedule employees in the right positions, there is a lesser chance you need to rely on on-call employees.

Scheduling on-call employees can be a difficult process. Use these tips to make is a seamless one to serve your customers better and create a positive team culture.