One way to approach employee scheduling is to focus on staffing customer-related functions of the business. For example, keep the production side of the business running so you always have goods in stock. Staff the sales and service workers so you can always meet customer needs in your business or department. Getting employees scheduled while keeping their hours to a typical 40-hour limit will help you staff business functions and keep your payroll costs to a manageable level.
Before you can approach the employee scheduling process, study the need for workers at different hours of the day. In a retail store, the peak time of the day might be the morning rush hour. The level of coverage needed between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. might be triple the level of coverage this store needs the rest of the day. Begin by making an hourly forecast of demand. Track demand over several weeks to adjust your forecast to average hourly demand.
Project Labor Scheduling
Not every employee scheduling project is about maintaining employee coverage for customers during operating hours. Some labor is scheduled on a project basis. If you hire staff on a project to perform different jobs, use time sheets to track the amount of labor hours every day. Next, break the labor down into different job types and study the job type being used the most each day, week, or month. Compare this job type to the outputs achieved by the laborers in the group, and decide if you need to over-schedule other types of labor while cutting this labor type back to the desired range.
Another way to break down the scheduling issue is to use the three-shift approach, like you might find in a factory with 24-hour production. If you want each employee to work a maximum of eight hours, you create three shifts of eight hours each. The only problem is that you must schedule enough workers -- at least during the day shift -- to give employee breaks. If you have a manager to give breaks, then you don't need extra employee coverage on any shift.
Many organizations address employee scheduling problems by hiring two types of workers -- full-time and part-time workers. They might even offer benefits to part-time workers to encourage them to stay and develop just like full-time workers. Schedule part-time workers for peak season, shorter shifts, for peak times of the day, for two shifts a day, for nights and weekends and for other special needs to fill the coverage gaps in the hourly analysis you forecast.