Over the years, our HotSchedules customers have helped us develop seven methods for creating and communicating schedules. If you’re just starting out, you’re probably going to find the first couple of methods helpful. If you’ve integrated your point of sale system (or intend to) then the forecast, template, and auto-scheduler methods are going to be right up your alley.

1. From scratch

In many cases, you can begin by creating the employee work schedule from scratch. This can be done by looking for employee availability, requests for time off, and the most reliable employees. You can then use this information and make adjustments on an as-needed basis. This method works if you’re creating schedules for the first time, if you have a small group of managers, or if you suddenly see an up-tick in sales and need to adjust your staff volume.

2. From a scheduling template

If you’re looking to generate a recurring schedule, templates are a great approach. Employee scheduling templates can be generated based on sales, budget, labor, or other requirements. For instance, you might generate a schedule template for different levels of sales, one for $40,000, $60,000, or $480,000, (you could even make these thresholds).

You could also create a templated schedule for particular events like Super Bowl weekend or Mother’s Day. In HotSchedules, if you recognize that you’re creating a schedule or copying a schedule frequently, there’s an option to create a templated schedule from an already created schedule.

3. Copy schedules from week to week

Copying a schedule from a previous week is similar to the scheduling template method, but instead of having a general schedule (no employees in it) you can create a schedule with shifts and employees that you can copy from week to week. An example might be a kitchen schedule.

You know the same chefs and cooks are working every week for the same shifts, so you would copy that schedule from week to week. Each week you can go back to make adjustments if employees were late or clocking too many hours.

4. From a forecast

Some of the best schedules are created using the forecasting method. Forecasting allows managers to quickly apply appropriate templates to future weeks based on projected sales figures. Forecasting is most effective if you have a number of templates created that correspond to different sales levels. Once a schedule is forecasted and posted, managers will be able to see the labor variance between the forecasted template and the schedule that was actually posted.

5. From the AutoScheduler

The AutoScheduler in HotSchedules allows managers to define specific parameters for how shifts will be assigned to employees. There are three ways to configure the AutoScheduler:

  • Day Priorities: This setting allows you to specify a priority for what days are more important with regards to distributing shifts.
  • Thresholds: This setting allows you to specify how many of your highest and lowest skills are eligible to work in a single day. The AutoScheduler will then avoid giving you too few of your best employees and too many of your least skilled employees.
  • Locations Skill Levels: This section allows you prevent employees from working in locations if their skill level is not high enough. When the AutoScheduler references this setting, it will not give the unassigned shift to an employee if their skill level does not match what is specified for the location.

When to use templates vs. copying vs. AutoScheduler

Copying schedules from week to week saves managers time if the same people are scheduled for the same shift. Unfortunately, a lot of managers will use the copy schedule method for any kind of schedule and then spin their wheels adjusting shifts and moving people around.

What would make more sense is to create another template, create a schedule from scratch, or use the AutoScheduler.

6. Use employee rankings to create schedules

In HotSchedules, having certifications and skill level rankings appropriately set for employees in the Settings section funnels into the AutoScheduler which assigns employees to a schedule based on job codes, locations, availability, and skill and certifications.

7. Communicate schedules in a single click

Once you’ve got your schedules created, communicating them to the entire team can happen with a click of a button. Employees will receive notifications through email, online, or on their phones and will have access to their schedule any day, and at any time. If changes are made to their shifts, they will be notified, keeping everyone informed and managers out of the crazy last minute call mix.


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