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Shift Management Explained

5 min read
shift management

Managing shift work is no easy task. It requires careful planning and consideration, and if mishandled, you’d likely end up in a scheduling nightmare. According to research by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), employee scheduling trends indicate that the prevalence of shift schedules was highest in those aged between 16-24, decreasing with age for both men and women. Nearly half of men and over a third of women aged 16-24 participate in shift work, in contrast to fewer than a third of men and a fifth of women aged 55 and above, impacting labour costs and scheduling conflicts.

However, while it might be challenging, there are definite ways to succeed. Here is everything you need to know about shift scheduling, how it works, and how to best handle it in your organisation.


shift management template

What is Shift Management?

At first glance, you might think shift management simply involves creating a work schedule in which the right team members are available for the right tasks at the right times. However, it’s much more than that. The entire process from start to finish is dynamic and strategic, nowadays likely requiring efficient scheduling software to really nail the ins and outs because you need to consider employee availability, handle scheduling conflicts, and maintain seamless team communication. But with the right tools, you can easily track time, create schedules, and even manage open shifts with ease. 

With that said, as a shift manager, you’re ultimately aiming to optimise the way your company shifts are going, guaranteeing coverage, adapting when needed, and all the while making life easier for yourself and your employees.

What is Shift Scheduling?

At its core, shift scheduling involves the meticulous planning of work shifts, making sure that all necessary tasks are covered and that employees are assigned to changes that match their skills and availability. Think of it as a facet of shift management. 

A pitch-perfect approach to shift scheduling can help you streamline operations, enhance team communication, and provide a clear framework for everyone to follow, scheduling employees with precision and keeping everyone happy, committed, and engaged.

Why is Shift Management Important?

There are many reasons why an organisation would want to take their team’s shift management seriously. For starters, employee scheduling plays a pivotal role in curbing employee absenteeism while at the same time fostering a culture of employee accountability and punctuality. Moreover, it empowers your workforce to boost productivity. It also acts as a cost-controlling mechanism by optimising labour allocation, cutting down on unnecessary overtime expenses or time theft, and ultimately contributing to a more efficient company culture.

Who is responsible for Managing Shifts?

Managing shifts typically falls within the purview of supervisors, team leaders, or dedicated shift managers. They oversee shift tasks, coordinate and schedule employee shifts, and execute the scheduling process, often with the assistance of software solutions. In this role, they act as the central point of contact, aligning all your employees’ availability and preferences while ensuring seamless operations.

The Key Role of HR in Shift Management

HR takes on a vital role when it comes to shift management. They’re the go-to source for managing your availability, helping you with time-off requests, and ensuring every shift gets adequately filled. It’s these team members in HR who are equipped with ample expertise to meet every team member’s shift preferences while making sure the work-life balance aligns with the company’s goals.

How to Improve Rota Management

Improving rota management will take a few key, actionable steps, but with the right team and the determination to see any strategic plan through, here are some of the most effective methods you can take to improve your shift schedule.

Embrace Automated Scheduling Software 

Scheduling software and HR go hand in hand. These digital tools allow you to effortlessly create schedules, never miss a shift, and eliminate the scheduling guesswork. Some of the most fruitful advantages you’d experience once adopting an employee scheduling app might include enhanced accuracy, which reduces scheduling conflicts and boosts employee satisfaction.

Let Employees Shine

Employee preferences are paramount. Invite them to share their likes and availability to find the winning formula that keeps everyone across your teams happy. Showing fellow employees that their inputs are taken into consideration is a definitive way to empower your team and also add a dash of excitement to rota management. 

Follow the Data

Dive into the numbers, exploring labour costs, shift coverage, scheduling efficiency, and all the data that defines your rota management. This process is necessary to spot trends and unlock any findings that would make your shift planning more efficient and cost-effective.

Keep Things Flexible

You won’t be able to account for every variable or every unknown circumstance. Some team members might request time off all of a sudden, or perhaps someone might fall ill or be unable to come in for any reason. That’s why keeping things flexible will play in your favour. By doing so, you’ll be better prepared to adapt to unforeseen changes, ensuring smooth operations in the long run.

Master Communication

Clear, open lines of communication create a functional workplace. This is something that requires time to master. Still, with clear communication strategies and initiatives, you can effectively get through to all your team members and perhaps even spot scheduling conflicts before they happen, creating a more productive work environment.

Key Features of a Successful Shift Management Strategy

Successful shift management plans will have a vast amount of features that showcase whether it’s a winning strategy. But there are a handful of key features that, if present, make it far more likely for employee scheduling to be a successful endeavour. 

Here are some of the most crucial features you’d want your employee scheduling strategy to include.

Predictive Scheduling

This feature involves using historical data and demand forecasting to create schedules that optimise labour costs while ensuring adequate staffing. It minimises under or overstaffing by aligning employee work hours with the actual workload, resulting in cost savings and improved operational efficiency.

Accurate Time and Attendance Tracking

Accurate time tracking is a cornerstone feature. It involves reliable clock-in and clock-out mechanisms, often facilitated by time-tracking software or hardware. This ensures that employees are paid correctly for their hours worked and helps prevent time theft.

Streamlined Shift Swap and Coverage

Who doesn’t like having a system for employees to easily swap shifts or request coverage? It simplifies the process of accommodating employee preferences, allowing teams to adapt to unforeseen changes without disruptions. This feature enhances employee satisfaction and minimises scheduling conflicts.

Real-Time Visibility

Providing real-time insights into shift and employee performance is a crucial feature. Managers can monitor ongoing operations, track employee attendance, and make immediate adjustments when needed. This real-time visibility enhances decision-making, improves efficiency, and helps address issues promptly, leading to a more agile and effective workforce management system.

Shift Management with Factorial

Factorial’s shift scheduling software revolutionises your shift management needs, offering an all-in-one solution to effortlessly create and optimise work schedules. With user-friendly scheduling tools, you can schedule shifts to match your operational demands and employee availability. Factorial also simplifies shift tracking, enabling you to monitor attendance and manage any changes, and with its shift management tool, you can easily delete, modify, and compare shifts, all while customising the view to streamline your employee shift schedules.shift management software tool of factorial

Streamline your shift management process like never before and permanently enhance your efficiency in managing employee schedules.


Sergio is a seasoned copy and content writer who has worked directly with company founders, CMOs, brand executives, and marketing directors from multiple industries. He's an HR geek and humble terpsichorean.

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