Employee Time Scheduling Nightmares

And Solutions on How to Avoid Them

Being a manager is not easy especially when you are running a company of more than 15 employees.

You need to possess certain set of skills and on top of that list is scheduling.

Before we dive into the topic, I want to let you know that staff scheduling problems are universal — whether you work in retail, construction, hospitality or healthcare industry.

That means you are not alone in facing this nightmare.

Maintaining a fair and functional schedule is the staffing manager’s top responsibility — a full time job in itself. And it’s not easy.

Oftentimes, staffing managers find themselves buried under a pile of calendars, employee leave forms, spreadsheets and timetables.

A good, efficient schedule usually takes days or even weeks to develop. And what if an error was committed along the way or a last minute change must be adapted?

No matter how inconvenient it is, managers have no choice but to go back to square one — a nightmare indeed.

Speaking of time scheduling nightmares, let’s take a look at some common challenges caused by traditional employee scheduling.

3 Common Employee Time Scheduling Nightmares

Nightmare 1. Manual Staffing is Not Productive

Creating an employee schedule by hand or by using spreadsheets (we’ll talk more about this later) has low ROI. Why?

Let me ask you a question: Do you want your manager who has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration to spend more than 8 hours a week creating a schedule?

I bet not. But with traditional employee time scheduling, that is what is happening. Matching worker availability with staffing requirements while controlling labor costs at the same is very complicated.

It’s a very daunting task and is very prone to errors which of course, would lead to loss of money. Not to mention employee resentments.

Nightmare 2. Workers are Not Up to Speed

With traditional staffing methods, workers are often unaware of last minute changes in their schedules.

And that is a big NO in today’s very dynamic working environment where last minute changes have almost become a norm. Why are they unaware?

Because they’re schedules aren’t transparent. Here’s the “domino effect” that might typically happen with this mistake:

Today is John’s day-off but the manager decided to change John’s day-off to Monday so he can cover Peter’s shift for the day. But there’s problem. John is not aware of this last minute change. He did not show up at work and as a result, Carl must work overtime to cover the next shift.

So what happens after this? The manager will reprove John for not coming to work. John would feel resentful because he was not informed; he believes that this mess is not his fault.

Carl, who worked for long hours, would, obviously, feel bad too. Who wants to work double shifts anyways?

Also, the company has to deal with rising overtime costs. What a nightmare!

Nightmare 3. Uncontrolled Costs

It is almost impossible to keep staffing expenses and unapproved overtime under control with a manual, decentralized scheduling process.

Because managers have no real-time access to current schedules, staffing data and budget parameters, they often make uninformed decisions which invite a lot of errors. Turning timesheets into Payroll also consumes a lot of valuable resources.

How? With traditional scheduling, each timesheet must be compared tediously with actual logged hours. Managers review each timesheet, edit it and approve it before sending the document back to Payroll.

And since managers are not perfect, they make mistakes. When this happens, Payroll goes back to square one — editing the timesheet, reviewing, etc. — a nightmarish process!

6 Reasons Why Excel is No Longer the Solution to These Time Scheduling Nightmares

Most companies today still use Excel for time registration and scheduling. But is it really worth it? Here are six reasons why I think Excel is no longer the solution.

1. Deleted Spreadsheets

Very unfortunate but this happens every time. And sadly, deleted files on a corporate network are almost impossible to recover, making it even more disastrous.

In just a single click of that DELETE button, you can lose anything to everything.

2. Overwritten Data

Without a change log file, it’s very hard to recover any lost or overwritten data. What if this file is the time schedule you tediously made for the past sleepless days?

3. Security and User Rights Management

Are you the only person who has access to your sensitive data? What if other people can freely change it without your knowledge?

Granted you can password-protect your file, do you think it’s enough? I don’t think so as a single click of that DELETE button can still throw away all your hard work in a blink of an eye.

4. Zero Log Feature

Time registration and scheduling are prone to errors. Let’s say you’re almost 98% done and an error popped up. How will you troubleshoot it without going to square one?

A feature that automatically tracks changes can save you a lot of time when troubleshooting errors in the data. Unfortunately, Excel does not offer such convenience.

5. Adaptation

While formulas can make some tasks seem easy, it could also spell disaster to your company. Excel has low adaptation.

It’s hard to adapt columns and data to significant changes as they are mutually dependent of each other. For instance, you have 100% working time schedule based on accurate underlying data.

How will you adapt it to a major change in budget, task and project structure without starting again from scratch? Pretty hard huh? 

6. Excel is an Offline Solution

Excel is an offline solution. This means that employees can’t request time-off from their respective accounts — everything has to be done manually.

You can’t sync with MS Outlook, iCal or Google Calendar, making it difficult for you to see who’s off and when while on the go.

It’s also hard to centralize employee data with Excel nor see a full history of past requests and accruals.

How to Avoid Time Scheduling Nightmares

Do you want to wake up from your nightmare? Here are 4 practical solutions on how to avoid employee time scheduling problems.

1. Know Your Business

As the owner or manager, it is your responsibility to know the ins and outs of your business.

You have access to a lot of information. You know when the busiest time of the week is and what tasks your employees perform best.

Equipped with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions whether or not you should schedule an extra person for Wednesday noon. You can also schedule your best employees to work for peak hours.

2. Be Considerate

What will you do if Joe asks for a day off? I suggest you do everything you can to give that break to him. And please, don’t make Joe feel bad about it.

Also, if you need to make a change on your employee’s schedule, let them know right away.

For instance, if you need Hannah to work late on a Friday night, let her know days (or even weeks) in advance so she can set everything in order.

Being considerate will keep employee morale high. Respect fosters employee loyalty too! And experience have taught me that employees who are treated well will be respond positively if you need them.

3. Employ Dedicated On-Call Workers

Hiring on-call workers is not a bad practice as long as you make it clear from day 1 that they will be used for on-call scheduling.

When used effectively, this practice can save you a lot of nightmares and setbacks. The people you should hire for this purpose are those who do not depend on this job for survival (such as students).

4. Use an Online HR Software

Employee time scheduling software like CakeHR is the best solution against these nightmares.

It makes staffing easier by providing you real-time data on the availability of your employees, the hours you’re open and how many hours you can schedule while staying on budget.

All of these vital information are presented to you in a clean, visual manner. Other notable perks of CakeHR include:

  • It displays your employee schedule in an online portal so your employees don’t have to call you each week just to check on their schedules
  • Through email notifications, your employees are notified right away if there’s a change on their schedule
  • Employees can request time off directly from the program. These requests are automatically sent to you for approval, saving a lot of time (and paper) in the process.

It’s time to wake up from your nightmare! Check our CakeHR today!


Written By

Kaspars Upmanis

SaaS freak, CEO & Co-founder @cakehr