The Way It’s Always Been Done – And Why That’s A Problem

By September 24, 2015Healthcare, Workforce
Always done it that way

About the Author:
Derek Frer is the Customer Development Director for Swift Shift a workforce management software company based in London. If you would like to receive blog posts to your email sign up here or follow him on twitter.

How Traditional Shift Planning Works

Normally schedules are created 2 to 6 weeks in advance by local managers or administrators by hand (really advanced schedulers are using excel!).  There is the odd case of using scheduling software, but many of those systems are too complicated or time consuming to be of value.

The process starts with creating a draft of the schedule in which they attempt to balance the following constraints:

  • Business needs such as acuity model or sales per labour hour
  • Labour budget
  • Time off requests
  • Employee preferences

Once a draft is ready, the scheduler will distribute the schedule.  Which sounds fancier than it is: most of the time the distribution model is as simple as posting the schedule in the employee break room.

Then the real fun begins!

Problems with Traditional Shift Planning

The whole process is hugely time-consuming and inefficient for everyone involved.  As soon as the draft is posted, the scramble begins.  

Staff unhappy with their schedule race to speak with the scheduler in the hope of adjusting their shifts before co-workers get a chance to bend their ear.  At a certain stage, the scheduler can’t alter the schedule anymore.  This causes staff to move to the next port of call – trying to swap shifts with each other!

Communication is another giant hole in the traditional process.  Hanging a schedule on the wall is clearly a terrible way to inform staff of their future schedules.  Bigger issues arise when staff are not on site and need to find out their schedule.  Their only solution is to call their manager or another co-worker to ask them to check the schedule.

This archaic process makes covering shifts nigh impossible.  Staff have no visibility on gaps in the coming weeks.  Which means there is no proactive covering of open shifts.  Managers and administrators are largely stuck calling staff last minute to try to find cover.

What are the best schedulers doing?

Employee engagement and satisfaction is central to business performance.  Happy employees simply deliver higher levels of care!

Enlightened schedulers are finding ways to simultaneously reduce the amount of time it takes to create/manage the schedule as well as give staff a ‘voice’ in the process.  We have seen a rise in companies exploring and implementing a Self Scheduling model.

Self Scheduling is a process gaining popularity due to it’s ability to achieve business goals and employee engagement.