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What is a shift swap?

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The Basics of Shift Swaps

A “shift swap” (sometimes written incorrectly as “shift swop”) is what we call it when employees trade shifts with each other. Most of us know what a shift swap is and how it works. What you might not know, however, is how beneficial it can be to your employees and business.

Anyone who’s worked in retail, restaurants, or grocery has probably exchanged shifts with a coworker at least once or twice. It’s nice to have that option when you didn’t have time to make an official time off request. When those last minute plans pop up and you need to get out of a shift fast, swapping with a coworker is the perfect solution. It keeps the schedule and managers happy with adequate staffing, gives employees a chance to solve their scheduling conflicts, and makes it so they can have the needed time off without giving up an entire shift’s worth of pay. In short, it improves employee retention.

Shift swapping is a simple and common practice in many workplaces. If you and your employees aren’t all that enthusiastic about swapping shifts, you could be missing out! It’s a great tool and has many benefits beyond the obvious for employees and employers alike.

Shift Swaps Have Unexpected Benefits

Shift swaps are an excellent opportunity to empower your staff members in a way that benefits them and your business. Allowing employees to swap shifts gives them more control over their work schedule and more flexibility for their personal lives. This freedom and flexibility is good for morale and productivity.

Shift swaps are also conducive to good workforce management. They are a simple and effective way to solve many employee scheduling issues. They save time and give your employees an extra opportunity to work as a team to solve problems. When employees are able to trade shifts, they can work together to find a solution within the schedule that works for everyone instead of relying on a manager to do it all for them every time.

Your employees will benefit from the opportunity to problem-solve on their own and your managers won’t drown in rewriting the schedule every other day. Allowing employees to figure out minor schedule changes in a way that works best for them can save your managers a lot of conflicts, headaches, and time. 

Things to Look Out For

Shift swapping is usually a win-win, but there are a few things you need to be cautious about. Once your employees decide which shifts to trade and who to trade with, it’s still a good idea to require a manager’s approval before proceeding. You’ll want to make sure trades don’t start costing you in overtime. Also be sure to avoid any trades that might result in shifts that aren’t adequately staffed. Carefully consider the training level and skill sets of the staff on a shift. Make sure you’ll still have a good team before approving a trade between a newbie and a more experienced employee. Learning more about shift swapping policies and best practices can help you avoid making mistakes.

Tip: TimeForge allows you to do all of the above – painlessly.

Take Shift Swaps to the Next Level

Using shift swaps to their fullest advantage is easy when you use a labor management software program with built in shift swap functionality. Ideally, it would be able to automate the entire process to help save you even more work.

Fortunately, such a program already exists. TimeForge does the work for you by giving employees a platform in which to make their swap requests. It can also help catch requests that won’t work in your favor. For example, it ensures that both trade partners are equally matched in their skill level, so your shifts will run as smoothly as possible. It will also inform management when a swap will result in overtime. If appropriate, TimeForge can require all swaps to be approved by a manager or to be made a certain amount of time in advance. Once completed and approved, TimeForge automatically updates the schedule to reflect the swap so your managers don’t have to.

To learn more about how TimeForge handles shift swaps, check out this handy how-to guide. It’ll walk you through the process and how to configure the settings to best serve your business.

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