Employee Scheduling: Seven Options For Your Businesses

employee scheduling

This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.

Unless you’re a solopreneur, your business needs employees to help take care of customers and perform operational tasks. As the manager, it’s your job to create their schedule; however, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. From fixed to flexible and everything in between, the way you schedule your employees will likely be driven by the type of business you own. 

Here are seven options to consider and the types of businesses that would benefit from them most. 

1. Fixed Schedules 

This traditional form of scheduling uses reliable shifts for employees with set days, times, and hours. For example, an employee might work full time with an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. Part-time employees could also have a fixed schedule, such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from noon to 8 p.m.

Fixed schedules are easy for managers because they can be planned out in advance and don’t change from day to day or week to week. And while fixed schedules stick to patterns, they can be tweaked from time to time to accommodate employee vacations or illness.

Types of businesses that often use fixed scheduling:

  • Retail stores 
  • Offices

2. Flex Schedules

A flex schedule puts the employee in control by allowing them to choose their own working hours. For example, instead of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., an employee may choose to work 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. one week and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. another. The only expectation is that they complete their work or hit an output target. 

Flex schedules are popular with employees. A study by Robert Half, an HR consulting and staffing agency, found that 41% of U.S. managers allow staff members to set their own hours. By providing flexibility, companies can improve employee engagement. However, flex schedules may not be a viable option for industries or businesses that serve customers during set hours.

Types of businesses that can use fixed scheduling:

  • Offices
  • Service providers who work by appointment, such as hairdressers who can name their own working hours
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3. Rotating Schedules 

Rotating work schedules allow employees to work both day and night shifts as determined by the employer. For example, an employee may work a day shift two days a week and a night shift three days a week. Rotating schedules may also include alternating weekends, such as having Friday and Saturday off twice a month. 

The idea behind implementing a rotating schedule is to provide fairness to employees. For example, the wait staff at a restaurant might make better tips during high-volume shifts. By giving employees an equal opportunity to work busier times, you can improve employee engagement and loyalty. 

Types of businesses that use rotating schedules:

  • Restaurants that are open long hours 
  • Businesses that operate around the clock, like 24/7 gyms

4. Split-Shift Schedules

A split-shift schedule separates an employee’s workday into two parts. An employee works part of their shift, clocks out, and then returns and clocks back in for the second part of their shift. For example, they might work from 7 to 11 a.m., then return and work from 5 to 9 p.m. 

Split shifts are typically used in businesses that experience a lull during the day when fewer workers are needed. While this type of schedule helps companies reduce staffing costs, it provides benefits to employees, too. Splitting a shift allows them to work full-time hours while balancing personal responsibilities such as picking up a child from school. 

Types of businesses that use split-shift schedules:

  • Restaurants
  • Retail stores

A consent-based schedule allows employees the freedom to choose when and if they want to work. The employer doesn’t set a schedule. They simply post available hours and allow workers, who may be employees or independent contractors, to opt in. 

This type of schedule is popular with gig work, such as ride-share or delivery drivers. Consent-based schedules can also include a self-scheduling shift marketplace, where employees sign up for or swap shifts with other employees without needing a manager’s approval.

Types of businesses that use consent-based schedules:

  • Service providers
  • Large retailers that have a large pool of employees

6. On-Call Schedules

With an on-call schedule, employees are expected to be available to come into work if the employer needs them, usually on short notice. In some cases, an employee may work a regular shortened shift and be on call for an extended period of time. 

On-call schedules don’t have the predictability other types of schedules do. This type of schedule is popular in industries where demand is difficult to predict or unexpected situations or emergencies may arise.

Types of businesses that use on-call schedules:

  • Healthcare providers
  • Restaurants
  • Emergency service providers

7. On-Demand Schedules

On-demand scheduling is different than on-call in that the workers being brought in to fill shifts are not full-time employees of the company. This type of scheduling solution is becoming more popular in today’s marketplace. For example, the Square Future of Commerce report found that 73% of restaurants are experiencing a labor shortage and an average of 21% of positions are unfilled. To manage the shortage, business owners are turning to on-demand staffing services to fill shifts, hiring temporary workers on an as-needed basis. 

On-demand platforms often serve specific industries, matching employees with the skill sets employers need. For example, businesses can hire a temporary worker if a regular employee is sick or they can staff up during busy periods, such as the holiday shopping season.

Types of businesses that use on-demand scheduling:

  • Restaurants
  • Seasonal businesses, such as lawncare or holiday retail
  • Education

The type of scheduling that works for you will depend on your business and your culture. A report from the Workforce Institute found that only 30% of people feel heard by their companies when it comes to work schedules. To boost employee engagement, ask for feedback from your current employees to find out what schedule works best for them. The best scheduling system is the one that helps you retain your team.

Learn more about how businesses scale their teams with Square Shifts here.