Effective communication in the workplace is essential for a number of reasons. Not only does it enhance employee morale, it can help employees feel more valued and supported. Furthermore, effective communication gives you better overall insight into your employees' needs, which puts you in the position to provide for those needs.
That communication is particularly important when it comes to scheduling. Every employee has unique scheduling concerns, needs, and preferences, and ignoring those needs can cause frustration and even lead to employees leaving the workplace.
Fortunately, there are several scheduling strategies you can use to enhance workplace communication, particularly as a small business.
The Importance of Communication in Employee Scheduling
Clear communication helps make the scheduling process smoother and more efficient. When you communicate regularly with your employees about their scheduling needs, you can develop a schedule that actually fits those needs which, in turn, improves key areas of your work.
When you create schedules that meet employees' needs, whether that means recognizing that Susan needs to leave early on Wednesdays to get her son to basketball practice or that Tim cannot work on Saturdays because he coaches a running club in the park, communication over scheduling can go a long way toward improving employees' morale.
Communication also shows that you care about the "stuff" of daily life, including appointments, vacations, and even simply scheduling preferences. Employees are more likely to have a positive opinion of the company when they do not have to constantly shuffle their regular lives or search for coverage because of a scheduling error or lack of care over their needs.
Employees who constantly need to swap shifts or change their schedules will have their focus on those activities, rather on the essential activities that keep them productive around the office. Furthermore, a drop in employee morale often causes a drop in productivity along with it, as employees feel less motivated to take on essential business tasks.
Productivity can also drop because employees do not know who is working when, or when an employee will next be on shift, which can make it harder for them to take care of essential activities or get information in the right hands.
57% of workers note that a lack of work/life balance is a dealbreaker when they choose a new job. 72% consider it a critical factor in selecting the job that's right for their needs. Poor scheduling can interfere with work/life balance and make it harder for employees to engage in the activities that mean the most to them. As a result, many employees may end up choosing to pursue employment elsewhere: specifically, with a company whose scheduling meets their needs.
Strategies for Improving Communication Through Scheduling
As you work to improve communication through scheduling, there are several strategies that can help improve your efforts.
With transparent scheduling, everyone knows who is working when. That means that employees know who is coming in to relieve them and when that backup is scheduled to arrive. Transparent scheduling can also make it easier to see who is available to take a shift when employees do need to swap, or to determine whether enough employees have been scheduled for a particular shift at a glance. With transparent scheduling, employees can also get to know one another's schedules and get a clearer idea of whether a specific employee gets the ideal shift more often.
The Right Scheduling Software
Choosing the right scheduling software is a critical part of ensuring communication around the scheduling process. Your software should:
Make it easy for employees to communicate directly on the platform. If there's a problem or an employee wants to give up or swap a shift, that process should be as easy as possible.
Streamline the process of making changes and updates to the schedule. Often, employees can update the schedule themselves, especially when it comes to swapping shifts with a coworker.
Notify management team members about needed changes in the schedule so that management can step in. Sometimes, simply knowing about a problem can allow managers to take care of their employees and fix potential problems.
With the right scheduling software, you can keep schedules transparent to the members of your team, make it easy for them to check changes or double-check their schedules as needed, and ensure that they show up for shifts on time--all while improving communication and making team members feel, in general, more valued.
Involving employees in the scheduling process encourages their input, helps them feel more valued, and streamlines the scheduling process for everyone involved. When you ask for employee input, you'll have the chance to learn more about employee preferences as well as their specific hard needs. For example, Jenny can get to work at 7:00, but she has to shift responsibilities at home to make it happen, since the kids don't get dropped off until 7:45. Paul, on the other hand, is an early riser who winds down by 3 and prefers to work those early hours. Without listening to employee preferences, you might never realize the difference.
Likewise, you can get a better feel for employee hourly needs. When an employee regularly jumps to accept extra shifts, it could indicate that they need the extra money. An employee who is constantly turning down shifts or is reluctant to take on extra time may be approaching burnout and need more time off for a little while. Simply talking to your employees about scheduling needs can make a huge difference in the way you approach the process.
Despite your best efforts, there will be times when employees need to change their schedules. Last-minute things come up, from illness to unexpected kids' activities or needs, and employees need to be able to change their schedules to accommodate that.
However, make sure employees know what that expectation looks like, including whether they need to find coverage for their shifts and what changes, like taking a couple of hours off for an appointment or leaving work early one day, might simply require notifying a manager.
Set expectations around what shifts employees can pick up without approval, too. For example, if you have a tight overtime budget, you may need to restrict employees who have already taken on their 40 hours for the week from picking up additional shifts.
The Role of Technology in Scheduling and Communication
Using the right tools can go a long way toward improving communication in scheduling. Try strategies that can help boost communication across your business.
Shared Online Calendars
Shared virtual calendars make it easy to see what employee is working when, meeting information, and what blocks of time specific employees have scheduled off or otherwise indicated they cannot work. By utilizing a shared online calendar, you put that information at everyone's fingertips, which can help streamline the communication process.
Carefully consider what features you want to be available to everyone: for example, if Carol blocks off a two-hour period of time on her calendar, she may not want to disclose that it's for an appointment with her doctor.
Mobile apps put scheduling information in employees' hands where they need and use it most, whether they're out at a job site and trying to figure out who is available to take care of a problem or they're checking their schedule after work to determine whether they have the next day off or what time they have to go in.
While employees appreciate the convenience of being able to check their schedules from a mobile app, they can't know about changes to the schedule automatically. Some will take screenshots. Others will remember the schedule and not need to check it, especially if they typically work the same shifts without much change.
Employees may also not check the schedule directly after you change it or put it up unless they receive those essential notifications.
Not only can notifications ensure that employees check their schedules when it matters, they make it easier for management team members to see and approve any changes to the schedule quickly, which can help employees maintain vital work/life balance and let them know that their needs are being taken into account.
Choosing the Right Tools for Your Business
Selecting and using the right tools is essential. Consider what tools your employees are most likely to use and how those benefits may work long-term. Also consider:
What problems you have with scheduling. Often, those problems will reveal the right tools for your needs.
What issues employees have with their schedules or with scheduling software.
How employees prefer to communicate with the business.
Your overall staffing needs, including how many staff members you have and whether you have adequate staff for your shifts.
Furthermore, make sure employees receive the training and information they need to use those apps and tools effectively. If employees cannot use those tools, they do not benefit your business.
Enhance Communication with Shiftbase: Your Ultimate Scheduling Solution
The importance of effective scheduling and communication in the workforce cannot be understated. This is where Shiftbase comes in. Our robust SaaS platform addresses the complexities of employee scheduling, time tracking, and absence management. Shiftbase is designed to cater to each employee's unique scheduling needs, supporting an improved work-life balance and fostering a happier and more productive work environment.
By streamlining these processes, Shiftbase not only bolsters employee morale and productivity but also contributes to better staff retention rates.
Ready to revolutionize the way you handle employee scheduling and communication? Click here to try Shiftbase for free for 14 days and experience the difference it can make in your workplace.