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What Is Workforce Scheduling? 5 Optimization Tips

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Every business needs an order when it comes to managing workers, whether they work hourly or have shifts. To settle the chaos managers need to define who is doing what and most important – when. The work schedule allows you to set the work timetable for employees. But time of paper journals is over and today we have not only applications to deal with it, but a full AI-based workforce scheduling software. And in this article we will investigate what is workforce scheduling and why you should apply it to your business.

What is Workforce Scheduling

Workforce scheduling is process of setting schedule of employees` shifts. It is designed to operate manpower of the company, which consists of workhours, functional schedule, and absenteeism, and also to predict workload and distribute it proportionally. Mainly, workforce scheduling should consider staff and business demands.

As a rule, workforce scheduling software possesses such useful characteristics as:

  • Easy-to-use timeline and employee attendance check-in by logging in\out;
  • Track employee time, sick leaves, vacations, lunch breaks and time off with favorite browser;
  • General picture of flexible working conditions;
  • Precise timelines and charts;
  • Possibility of notification about unfinished time and overtime;
  • Advanced settings for lunch / short breaks.

You obviously can benefit from flexible working hours without additional expenses or misunderstandings. Set the necessary settings and a flexible schedule is ready to serve you!

By using workforce scheduling software monitoring time and attendance, companies today can easily create any number of flexible jobs, allowing employees to efficiently manage their time. Tracking the progress of remote work, scheduling work shifts in production departments, organizing the work of freelancers – managers can now view and manage all data about working hours of employees at any time, from any device. Workforce scheduling software can direct a massive amount of shift considering variety of data. It is great for industries like: healthcare, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, transport and logistics, contact centers and construction. Here, scheduling of employees is inevitable for work realization due to massive amount of workload and coworkers to perform it.

How to Optimize Workforce Scheduling?

Workforce scheduling optimization is a process of staff and business demands synchronization. It can be done, according to size of organization, man hours and given budget. Generally, creation of optimized scheduling is focused on assessing demands of the business, because all the workers do not have the same resources to perform their responsibilities. Then, it is necessary to consider patterns in staff behavior to predict possible emergencies and prepare replacement. Also, when schedule is available for employees so they can edit and control management of their work, it can be surprisingly beneficial for everyone in company. Workforce scheduling and optimization can be done both bottom up and top down, as employees know what is better for them and managers know what is better for business. But here are exact steps to workforce scheduling optimization:

Know the staff who work for your organization

Here it is important to have a list with employees` details like their position, department they work for, skills and etc. Information about schedule preferences, demands and restrictions can be very useful while assigning shifts. You must remember that your workforce consist of individuals so it is a great idea to know everything including personality type. Are they full-time employees or freelancers? Are they spontaneous and ready to jump in for any offer or do you need to notice them about shifts months in advance? Do they have kids or are they night owls and cannot work day-time? Owning such information you can schedule these people the most productive way. And then software will provide you with technical details of their work efficiency.

Keep communication lines open at all hours

This will help to avoid possible conflicts. Software can warn you if any issues concerning shifts appear. In case of understaffing or overstaffing, overlaps or any other extraordinary situations you will receive a notification. At the same time, employees should be able to review their shifts any time, swap them and in result, meet deadlines. Workers must have access to the schedule and ability to discuss changes. Mobile technologies will be helpful for support and immediate reaction. To provide an easy access to the schedules it is better to store them at the same place.

Be ready to accommodate to your workers` requests and it will help with scheduling employees further. While you are meeting their expectations, they will be ready to meet yours, willingly finding compromise. Communication is a key for efficient collaboration.

Develop a process for employees to submit their preferred work schedule

When employees can choose the most comfortable shifts for them, they will be very grateful and engaged in long term. Freedom to pick options that suit their needs and preferences is inspiring, and therefore, beneficial for work. Among bad workforce scheduling examples there are companies where employees do not stay for a long period. Turnover of employees is 174% more likely without real-time scheduling. Respect your workers needs forming a schedule to save your human resources.

For managers it is necessary to consider emergency cases and be ready to make fast amendments into the schedule. So it is critical to plan some extra resources. To realize this, managers can look at the previous experience and see the pattern of sick leaves for the employee, for example. In this case, you should have a potential substitute in reserve, who will be able to take the shift.

Schedule employees, according to their individual talents and skills.

First of all, while making schedules for employees, it is significant to determine what cadres you need for particular task and time. So, you ought to be clear about your strategy and goals, same as to understand the demand of your business. Do you need an employee who speaks Spanish or has a degree in psychology or any other specific competencies? Then, you might need to find and hire this person. If you have any kind of imbalance in the workflow that probably means that you assigned wrong cadres for wrong activities. You need to use the most skilled workers available for the task where they can explicitly apply their knowledge and talents. Their experience will also encourage others to work better in highly professional environment. If necessary, fill the gaps in skills by hiring new talents or by training of existing workforce.

Use automated scheduling software

Machines are proved to be advanced tools in analyzing data. That is why, workforce scheduling software is a critical solution for businesses. It saves from overscheduling, reduces amount of paperwork and store records of everything. Humans tend to make mistakes, while machines are rather to calculate all variables right. Software will provide fair scheduling of employees, while people can focus on creative side of work.

There are obvious advantages of automated scheduling software like taking into account possibility of unforeseen incidents, preventing possible discrepancies and balanced functioning. Additionally, it has the following pros:

  • It is faster to set and easier to amend;
  • Staff optimization positively influence cost management as you are aware of the exact amount of workers you need for the project;
  • It improves the quality of service you provide;
  • Productivity of the company is maximized;
  • Automated software helps to manage overdue workforce and predict risks helping to prepare for them;
  • It increases work and schedule flexibility and decreases possible burnout of employees;
  • Thus, it reduces unnecessary hours of overtime and as it has compliance risk solutions.

Basically, repetitive and routine work can be done by software, and scheduling, too. Program will provide solution, while you can spend your time on more important and fascinating things. Automate and you will be able to focus on strategy developing.

Key Features of Workforce Scheduling software

People can be wrong, it is natural. But it may lead to bad outcomes in workforce scheduling. Meanwhile, machines are capable of analyzing tons of information to present ideal (or better than others) answer:

  • With the help of AI-based workforce scheduling software every shift is staffed for every position.
  • It helps to avoid mistakes such as double-scheduling, scheduling for wrong positions, under- or overscheduling.
  • It can predict the number of workers necessary for particular date, for example Christmas, so process of decision-making becomes truly easier. Managers need to plan the shifts long in advance, but leave space for quick changes and swapping, so the work process will not suffer in case of alterations. The bigger organization – the more workforce scheduling for different locations should be provided.
  • Sasha Poljak, CEO of Nimble Software Systems, Inc, insists on importance of optimized labor force perfectly agreed with local and national regulations.
  • Customizable reports can become a real relief for managers, as they are created automatically according to chosen metrics. Workforce scheduling software will provide it and save time.
  • When it is hard to choose a perfect app, there are several features, which help to find the most suitable workforce scheduling software. It must have good references and review and also provide free-trial, so you can test it and form your opinion. User friendly interface and build-in coaching or training function will help to get familiar with app faster. Developers should provide live custom support and be easy to reach out. Awesome if this app is cloud-based and has good security policy. And finally, choose the program considering its price and functionality ratio.

Workforce scheduling software can also help to: balance workflow, boost productivity, accompany flexibility with thorough planning, manage attendance, increase overall job satisfaction of employees as it gives them freedom to choose the most convenient options and balance their own lives.

How to Implement Workforce Scheduling tools

Though it is impossible to write a complete guide for scheduling of employees, it is quite real to define the most vital steps:

Recognize your team requirements. Know their needs, desires, strong and weak sides. The more you know the better. Be sure of what exactly your workers think about your company, always try to get feedback. Use knowledge about their skills and preferences to assign duties and shifts, form teams and create the most effective environment.

Be aware of business demands. What should your workforce be capable of to maintain optimal functioning of the company? Does your business field require soft skills or speaking foreign languages? Understand the specificities of your direction. Otherwise, you will wander around trying to understand why things are working so badly. Remember, that different industries require different software to cover their needs.

Form shifts. Your decision should be made according to your employees` skills first and then considering their requirements. Provide enough flexibility to keep your workforce satisfied and do not forget to conduct engagement surveys to be sure if your workers are happy with their responsibilities and working condition.

Be flexible to change decisions. When everything seems to be assigned, leave a room for possible alterations. Life can bring surprises and you should better be ready for them. Sudden circumstances, sickness or simple wish must be taken into account. If need of shift re-allocation arises, then satisfy it to save good relationship with cadres and overall working process wellbeing.

Measure and fill your gaps in schedule. You cannot fully relax even after setting everything. Keep on studying and monitoring workforce scheduling to check its workability. In case of gaps in schedule appearance be ready to process it and solve this issue as soon as possible.

Be positive about your situation but continue improving it.


Hopefully, you get the idea of what is workforce scheduling from this article. Definition of scheduling stayed the same throughout the years, but methods to fulfill it have changed drastically. But still we are trying to achieve even more optimized scheduling by implementing technologies and considering important components of successful work. Management even takes into account workers` personal traits and desires, making schedules for employees.

Workforce scheduling and optimization is a constant process. Our realty requires new ways to achieve increased indicators of business success and workforce scheduling can significantly affect it.

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