7 Strategies For Creating an Effective Work Schedule in 2023

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Statistics show that work schedules are having a negative impact on workers’ health.

In fact, 60% of workers say they have had stress-related physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach pains, due to their work schedule. Furthermore, 47% state that their work schedule interrupts their sleep. As a result, a lot of workers would benefit from leaders mastering their work schedule creation techniques in 2023. This is a great New Year’s Resolution to set for yourself. 

With that being said, let’s take a look at some effective strategies and approaches you can follow to craft the best work schedules going forward for your team.

Work schedule man holding calendar

1. Use a spreadsheet tool like Excel to create a work schedule

You may assume that you need to have some complex, advanced software in place to create effective work schedules for your team. This is not the case. Tools like Excel work well, and because they operate in the cloud, everyone can collaborate on them.

Plus, a tool like Excel can easily be accessed on any device from any part of the world, which is especially important if you have a remote team or employees who travel a lot. 

You can read this guide on how to make a monthly work schedule in Excel for step-by-step assistance.

2. Define your scheduling needs

If you’re to master the art of scheduling, you really need to learn how to plan effectively. Firstly, you must figure out and specify what your business needs. You’ll never be able to fill shifts properly if you don’t understand what’s required and what resources and skills are needed for peak performance. 

Some of the different elements you can consider in this regard include:

  • Hours of process
  • Any legal implications, such as breaks and time on the clock
  • Any specific competencies or skills that workers need to possess to carry out certain duties 
  • The tasks your team must execute throughout every shift

You won’t be able to put together an effective work schedule if you don’t first understand what your team needs and what your business requires.

3. Assess your staff levels and their availability

Now you know what your business needs, you then need to assess the staff levels in your team and their availability. You can start off by looking at attendance and time data to determine when your team usually works within a given time period. 

It also makes sense to find out when your employees preferred to be scheduled. You can either ask employees to apply for open shifts via a scheduling app, or you can get them to select regular shifts. Of course, this is all going to depend on employee contracts, flexibility, and the nature of your team. 

However, it’s worth going the extra mile to be as flexible as possible without hurting the business. For instance, if you have remote workers who prefer to work on the weekend, rather than a standard Monday to Friday, why not allow this? If the outcome is the same and your team is working hard, giving them flexibility is not a bad thing. If anything, it enables them to thrive. 

You also need to consider what you’re going to do if your employees aren’t available for an unforeseen incident, for example, a personal family issue.

4. Have a system where you can track who is available for extra work

As mentioned in the previous section, there are going to be moments whereby your typical working team cannot fulfill their usual hours because something unforeseen happens, such as childcare difficulties or sickness. There may also be instances whereby you have more work on your plate than usual, and so you require extra manpower. 

When this happens, you need to have a thorough understanding of who is going to be available for extra work so that you can adapt accordingly and easily find people to plug these gaps. 

Some employees will love the chance to make some extra cash, especially when you consider the current economic climate and the fact that a lot of people are struggling with the cost of living crisis.

So, our advice is to generate and maintain a list of these workers and their availability, so you can easily offer them extra shifts whenever the work is available for them. This also makes it a lot easier to know who you should call if there is a sudden change to your intended schedule because of an emergency or illness.

Work schedule man pointing at digital calendar

5. Build your schedules around your best employees

Every team leader should know who their best employees are. If you don’t, now is a good time to make a list of them. You can do this by considering the likes of experience, personableness, efficiency, and how well they work with others. 

Once you have built a list of those you value the most, you should build your shifts around them to ensure you’re getting the most out of these employees. 

There are two reasons why this makes sense. The first reason is that you ensure key workers are suited to every shift they are working. For instance, if you have a personable employee, it makes sense to shift them during the hours that customers are likely to linger.

If you have an employee that has shown outstanding levels of efficiency, it makes sense to schedule them when there is a big rush and others can typically flounder. 

Another reason why this approach is beneficial is because it ensures you have employees in place with the core experience on which the rest of your team can depend on. An experienced worker can boost the quality of a shift because other, less experienced workers watch, learn, and improve their standards as a consequence.

6. Release new schedules quickly

If you wait until the last moment to release the work schedule, you’re asking for trouble. If something is wrong or a worker cannot fulfill your schedule, you’re giving yourself no time to make changes and rectify the issue. It’s a wise idea to finalize and distribute your schedule a minimum of two weeks before your current schedule ends.

This gives your workers more than enough time to talk with you about any days and times they’re set to work, find a substitute if needed, trade shifts, and schedule or reschedule personal commitments. 

A cloud-based app is the quickest way to distribute your schedule. You can easily post the schedule online, automate email updates, and give your employees access to the schedule so they can review it instantly and request changes if they’re needed.

7. Make sure you implement a team-wide method of communication

In addition to the points we’ve mentioned so far, communication is vital for any company. This is especially the case in sectors like retail and the food industry. It can mean the difference between being short-staffed or having the workforce needed to cover a shift. 

This is why you need to have an easy and effective communication method for the entire team to leverage. This will make it easy to optimize your work schedule and make changes as and when needed. 

With a team-wide communication tool, you won’t need to search through texting apps, instant messengers, and emails to locate time-off requests or the latest work schedule. Everything will be exactly where you need it so you can tackle work schedules in the most efficient manner. 

Plus, when everyone is using the same tool, everyone is on the same page!

Enjoy a productive year with these work schedule tips!

So there you have it: some of the main tips you need to follow to create productive and effective work strategies in 2023. If you follow the advice that we have provided above, you can ensure your team is working smarter, rather than longer and harder. 

Optimizing your work schedule can make a huge difference in terms of your team’s output and productivity, but also their health. Remember, it’s critical to be as flexible as you can. You need to work with your team, rather than working against them, if you want to experience the best results.

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