It is an oft-cited statement in business that to keep an organization’s employees happy there are two things managers should never get wrong: schedules and paychecks. Efficient staff scheduling is the bedrock of employee satisfaction and leads to higher productivity, lower turnover, and improved staff loyalty.

With this in mind, below are seven best practices for efficient and effective scheduling we have learned from over two decades of staff optimization experience.

Use shift templates
Rather than creating a new schedule every schedule period, managers should document the days each employee prefers to work and create a template that can be repeated. Scheduling by template allows managers to create a schedule once and only fill in missing shifts as they occur.

Allow staff to show their availability in the future
When staff make their future availability known, managers can select the best person available each shift based on necessary skills, competencies, and whether the shift is regular time or overtime, thereby ensuring right staff at the right cost at the right time.

Empower staff to swap shifts
Unanticipated changes will always be a part of the scheduling process. Staff will have emergencies, become sick, or attend a child’s program at school. Having a system that allows staff to swap shifts, and for managers to track those requests, will make things easier for both employees and managers.

Publish schedules at least 10-14 days ahead of new schedule periods
Advanced notice of schedules greatly reduces stress and improves staff satisfaction. Advance notice also allows staff to swap shifts within an organization’s swapping guidelines.

Communicate schedules easily available via multiple means
Science tells us that messages must be repeated at least three times to be fully heard. A similar principle applies to schedules. Provide schedules via email, a shared drive, a synced calendar, in a schedule book in their work area, and within your automated scheduling system if you have one. If an employee can look at their schedule on their phone or PC without going through cumbersome steps, they are more likely to be compliant with their schedule.

Track Credentials
Regulatory agencies, especially in healthcare, have taken strong positions about staff having appropriate credentials to work. By tracking employee credentials and cross referencing these when scheduling, managers can prevent staff being scheduled or working with an expired credential.

Find the perfect staff scheduling solution for your company
Only the best automated staff scheduling systems give managers a clean look at each scheduling period (from a single day to an entire month or more) including all open shifts, over and understaffing, staff availability, and the actual compared to budget performance for every schedule. These tools not only help save managers time but also reduce labor costs through overtime reduction, keeping managers aware of the budget, and creating higher staff satisfaction which, in turn, reduces staff turnover.

Staff scheduling is complex by its nature, but it can be made simpler and more effective through use of simple strategies focused on transparency and communication. Technology also plays an important role to bring both a rigor and an openness to the process. Using these strategies, you and your team can become scheduling experts.

About Care Systems

Care Systems has been a leader in the field workforce optimization since 1995. We were rated #1 in capability by the American Hospital Association in 2008, and top in user-friendliness by the State of California in 2014. Our fully integrated staff scheduling suite, CareWare, helps clients predict coverage needs, create efficient schedules and keep track of employees’ time and attendance with full automation, saving hundreds of hours every month.

If you would like to learn more about how we make our clients successful, you can view our product details page, request a demo of our solution, or contact us by email at, or by phone at (+1)240404-0355