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Shift Swap Policy Examples and Best Practices

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Management in any retail business can verify that a schedule never goes as planned for the week. Inevitably, there will be call-ins, no-shows, and shift swaps. Call-ins and No-shows are their own breed of headache, but shift swaps don’t have to be. Having certain policies set in place to handle this kind of situation, as well as using a scheduling software program, will make updating the schedule a breeze. Many websites, such as this one, talk about the importance of employee education, posting the schedule in advance, and having a policy in place that’s easy to follow for both management and employees. They’re not wrong. First, let’s dive deeper on best practices, then we’ll look at shift swap policy examples that may work well for your business.

Employee Education on Shift Swaps and Other Policies

Whatever policies you decide on, you’ll want to make sure to communicate them to employees. Especially new hires. During new employee orientation is when your new hires are first made aware of company policies. By teaching employees the rules up front, it makes it easier for them to manage a healthy work-life balance.

For example, with many retail jobs, there’s a high chance the employee is in school. After all, a flexible schedule is one of the most popular reasons students choose work in the retail industry. When the employee is aware of policies regarding their schedule from the beginning, it’s easier for them to work with their class schedule. They’ll have a better idea about whether to ask off to study for a big test the night before, or swap shifts with someone when the study group needs to meet at the last minute.

Post the Schedule in Advance

It’s well-known that nothing causes a full-time working student added anxiety like not knowing their schedule in a timely manner. Yes, employees should be able to adapt to their work schedule, but sometimes unexpected school events pop up, family life happens, or you need to swap shifts with someone.

When the employee knows their schedule in a timely manner, they can effectively plan out their week and limit unnecessary surprises for management. In addition, a somewhat predictable schedule will help reduce the need for workers to swap shifts in the first place, since they know what to expect.

Use an Online Scheduling Software

The benefits of building your team’s schedule using an online platform greatly outweigh the old pen and paper method. Software scheduling solutions like TimeForge allow managers to build schedules manually, use a template, or even build a schedule for you based on historical sales trends. It can even assign employees to shifts automatically using the AutoScheduler.

This software goes the extra mile because it allows for easy shift swaps. Employees post shifts they would like someone to pick up, another team member applies to pick up the shift, and the manager can then choose to approve or deny the swap. Managers and employees are able to do all of this from a desktop computer or using TimeForge’s mobile app. More customization options can go into this feature, but you get the gist.

Shift Swap Policy Examples

Given the information above, creating a Shift Swap Policy is pretty straightforward. You want to create policies that work well for the demands of your business but allow your workers enough flexibility to manage a work-life balance. You also want policies that are easy to manage and enforce.

Common shift swap policies include rules like:

  • Shift swaps require manager approval.
  • Shift swaps must be submitted for approval at least X days in advance.
  • Shifts can only be swapped between employees with the same job position.
  • Shifts can only be swapped between employees with the same skill levels.
  • Shift swaps cannot occur if they will result in overtime pay.

The rules don’t sound that complicated, but they can be a lot to track day-to-day. This is especially true when your managers are busy managing the team. This is where a good online employee scheduling solution comes back into play.

Benefits of an Online Scheduling Software

The good news is that TimeForge can automate most of these rules for you. You can configure the software to require manager approval, for example. Or require employees to give up shifts a certain amount of time in advance. You can even compare workers’ skill levels. This gives the manager control over who is staffed and when. It also lets managers control some of the impacts that shift swapping has on the schedule.

At the same time, online software like TimeForge gives workers the flexibility they need to take care of issues at home, school, or the doctor’s office. With a well-rounded policy, both managers and employees will be happier and more productive.
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