How to Make Scheduling a Total Breeze: Part 2


Last week in Part 1 we talked about scheduling basics and some key things to think through as you’re beginning to expand your team. In Part 2 we’ll be walking through how to develop a scheduling process for your shop.

What is a process?

A process is simply an operation or a series of steps to help you reach an end result. Taking time to develop efficient processes throughout your company will save you a great deal of time and help establish clear guidelines for your team. It also makes it much easier to train other team members when you are ready to hand off the responsibility.

Developing Your Scheduling Process with Retail Therapy

part two

Developing Your Scheduling Process

The Key Components

Establishing clear guidelines for scheduling will make your life and the lives of your employees SO much easier! In order to develop this process we are going to walk through common questions and typical situations you encounter when it comes to scheduling. You may have additional steps to add. Feel free to build your process out the way it works best for your shop! These are the key questions we’ll be answering:

  • How are you tracking availability?

  • How does an employee request time off?

  • Are employees allowed to swap shifts, and if so, how do they do it?

  • In the event an employee gets sick or has an emergency and is unable to make a shift, what should they do?

  • When are schedules posted?

Tracking Availability

Juggling schedules for numerous people can easily get overwhelming. In Part 1 we talked about setting availability expectations during your hiring process, but even once team members are established their schedules may fluctuate. So think through how you want employees to inform you of any availability changes.

I’m referring to a change that is ongoing from that point forward or for a prolonged period of time. If it’s just a one-time occurrence, that would be treated as a request off. The perfect example is a college student. Their availability will change every semester and around holidays. If you have team members who’s availability frequently changes, establishing how you handle these changes can alleviate a lot of stress.

Requesting Time Off

Creating the schedules can be a puzzle, especially if you have a large sales team. You put a lot of time and thought into creating your schedules! Do yourself a favor and decide how much notice you will require for employees to request time off. Not having this established can be frustrating for both you and the employee.

For full-time staff, I recommend a 30-day notice so you have adequate time to rework your schedule and fill their shifts. For part-time staff, you could also do 30 days but may need to be more flexible if you are working with students as projects or special assignments can come up within a shorter time frame. When deciding what works best for your team, be mindful that all employees holding the same job title are held to the same standard.

Swapping Shifts

You may be thinking, “I totally don’t mind if they swap as long as someone is there.” Swapping shifts is pretty common and can be helpful if a team member gets in a pinch after schedules have already been posted. The key is developing a procedure of what steps they should follow and a few guidelines. Swapping shifts—while helpful—can very easily get out of hand and impacts more things than you may be considering.

Two main things are:

  • Who can cover for who

  • Tracking hours for hourly employees

When you create schedules, you should be thinking about how you’re utilizing each team member based on their strengths and skills. You may not want a really seasoned salesperson swapping shifts with a brand new employee. The team members oftentimes are not thinking about this and are simply trying to get their shift covered. It’s your job to know your team and think through this for them. A great way to handle this is to create different levels within your sales team. The levels could be based on time with the company and they are only allowed to swap shifts with an employee in the same level.

As for tracking hours, an employee could easily go into overtime unnecessarily if swaps are not being approved by a leader. I recommend either you or your store manager approving all swaps in order to monitor both payroll expenses and to ensure your sales floor is adequately covered at all times. If you do this, it can be helpful to set a cut-off point for swapping shifts. For example, swaps must be requested 72 hours prior to the shift.

Calling in Sick

A call is normally sufficient if an employee gets sick or has an emergency and is unable to make their shift. In the case of someone being sick, a lot of people will try to hold out as long as possible to see if they start feeling better. The issue is when they don’t feel better, you’re getting a call 30 minutes before their shift saying they can’t make it. Helping your employees understand the importance of notifying you as soon as they’re feeling off gives you time to come up with a backup plan and coordinate with other team members.

Posting Schedules

Retail schedules tend to fluctuate based on many factors—time of year, employee availability, requests off, etc—and it can be very stressful for your team members if schedules are released with only a few days notice of when they’ll be working.

Choose a set day and frequency your schedules will be posted. I recommend posting schedules at least two weeks out. This gives your team sufficient notice of when they will be working so they can coordinate other obligations and make plans accordingly. And choosing a specific day you post schedules will hold you accountable to meeting the deadline and cut down on the amount of questions you get about when schedules are going out!

Utilize a Scheduling App

When you first start growing your team, it seems simple enough to keep up with scheduling by hand. It’s totally attainable to use a spreadsheet or calendar template to make your schedules each week and have team members notify you when they have a scheduling request. However, as your team gets larger, keeping up with scheduling can monopolize a great deal of your time.

Go digital and take advantage of the many scheduling apps out there!!

Cut down on excess communication, keep track of who’s working, stay up to date on the availability of each team member, and quickly communicate updates to your team. All of these apps will help you manage the items we addressed above.

A few highly-rated scheduling apps:

Developing Your Scheduling Process with Retail Therapy

How Developing a Scheduling Process Can Help

  • Quickly communicate scheduling expectations to your team

  • Helps eliminate potential confusion in the future

  • Easily train new employees on your scheduling guidelines during the onboarding phase

  • Positively impacts your employees

  • Cuts down on excess communication which saves you time

  • No more answering the same question over and over again

Need some guidance to make this happen?

Scheduling a Clarity Session will give you the hands-on support to quickly get a grasp of your scheduling and help you work through those key struggles.

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