The Covid-19 pandemic upended the way most companies do business on all fronts. One of the ways it affected those in the corporate world was in the scheduling department.
For as long as most can remember, schedules were firm and they were outlined in the job description. Any deviation from what was expected would lead to a slap on the wrist from those in charge, all the way up the chain to the CEO; everyone was responsible for punching in and out on time. 'The real damper on employee engagement is the soggy, cold blanket of centralized authority. In most companies, power cascades downwards from the CEO. Not only are employees disenfranchised from most policy decisions, but they also lack even the power to rebel against egocentric and tyrannical supervisors,' says Gary Hamel, Gary Hamel Consulting.
Now, it seems that with each passing day the interest in self-scheduling grows for both employees and their employers as the workforce continues to work from home and the idea of moving back to in-person gives way to a hybrid approach or completely remote in some cases.
But scheduling shifts around your own day can cause issues for businesses, HR departments, and even you, the employee. We chatted with a group of business leaders across industries to hear about the pros and cons of self-scheduling for all involved.
What is Self-Scheduling?
Well, it is what it sounds like: businesses' letting their employees choose their own shifts. A common way they do this is by creating a list of open shifts and allowing their employees to select the ones that they are willing to work.
'This method empowers employees by giving them autonomy over their work lives and schedules while having the added benefit of taking the burden off of the schedules,' says Lina Miranda, VP of Marketing at AdQuick. 'If done correctly, it can have a positive effect on those that use it.'
How it Works
'Talent is the No. 1 priority for a CEO. You think it's about vision and strategy, but you have to get the right people first,' says Andrean Jung, Grameen America. Self-scheduling is a way to make sure you get the right people working on the correct shift every time. And it's surprisingly simple too.
First, you will need to find a self-scheduling template that will create shifts that will need to be filled. Employees then gain access to this sheet and are able to grab the ones that they desire before the employer-imposed deadline. This can be done via an app or software that will automatically send notifications to employers and employees when a shift is taken.
If there are any remaining shifts that need to be filled, you can send them to the employees who didn't get their first choices. 'A great perk of these apps and software is that they allow employees to trade shifts among themselves,' says Stephen Skeel, Co-Founder and Executive Producer at 7 Wonders Cinema. 'This makes it much easier on the person who is normally in charge of scheduling because they no longer have to try and coordinate shifts between multiple employees with differing schedules.'
If you are an employer considering implementing self-scheduling software, make sure to communicate the changes to employees and invest in training them on how to use it. If they don't understand how to use it, it will make more work for all involved.
'The main benefit of [self-scheduling] is the freedom and flexibility it provides both employee and employer,' says Loic Claveau, CMO at TakeUs. 'Usually, employees have to reach out to HR when there is a scheduling issue but when you use a self-scheduling system, they can cut out the middle person and go right to the app or software and deal with it themselves.'
Doing this makes it easier for everyone involved and allows for a healthier work/life balance for employees who might just need some time off and don't want to explain why to the HR person. The employees can plan their work time around their schedules without fear of being reprimanded.
Additionally, these types of programs allow employees to pick up shifts when they want and work the shifts that they feel they are best suited for and most ready to excel at. For instance, if an employee thinks they work better later, they can choose to avoid morning shifts.
There is nothing worse as an employer than having a shift skipped by an employee, leaving your business short-staffed. Absenteeism can be a result of family issues, mental issues like depression or stress, or poor punctuality.
'When you put the power to schedule back in the hands of the employees, you make it easier for them to cover each other's shifts and only sign-up for shifts they know they will be able to show up for and do their best work at,' says Umer Usman, Head of Growth at AvantStay. 'When an employee selects a shift, they generally do so having accounted for any reasons that might prevent them from showing up or being late.'
Since absenteeism impacts your company's productivity and ultimately, its bottom line, any step that you can take to reduce it should be considered.
It can't be stressed enough, time is money! 'Any time your HR is wasting combing through employee lists trying to figure out availability, qualifications, and if they are going to hit overtimes, is time that they could be spent doing more important work, like securing more top talent and retaining the talent you already have,' says Shaunak Amin, CEO and Co-Founder at SnackMagic.
Implementing a self-scheduling workflow can save your employees time scheduling by up to 95% in some cases and is certainly worth checking out.
'If you are a customer-facing business, you may have employees that need to be on certain shifts no matter what,' says Tyler Read, Founder and Senior Editor at Personal Trainer Pioneer. 'If you have a customer service department, you might need them to work fixed schedules to ensure customer satisfaction and therefore can't give them the freedom of self-scheduling. This, in turn, can cause there to be feelings of unfairness or jealousy among those who get to schedule themselves and those that do not.'
Additionally, if a shift is given up by an employee and not taken by someone, they can feel as though they are being unfairly treated, especially if they have covered someone's shift in the past.
'There might be some difficulty adjusting on both sides of the implementation,' according to Ubaldo Perez, CEO at Hush Anesthetic. 'If you are a manager who is used to being in charge of your employees' shifts throughout the week, you might have trouble adjusting to the new schedules. If you are an employee who is used to the old way of scheduling, you might have trouble with the change to the workflow, especially if you liked the old way just fine.'
Choosing your own time can be an issue when it comes to productivity as much as it can be a benefit.
'Workers may find it hard to make their own schedule and stick to it. Working from home and having a lack of supervision when it comes to scheduling can cause issues for some when it comes to being productive. It will really be a case-to-case situation,' says John Jacob, CEO at Hoist.
Clearly, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to self-scheduling and a good leader will likely be able to handle the issues that may come up. Self-scheduling is a worthy investment.