Fed up with scheduling

Is anyone else completely fed up with trying to accommodate everybodies needs. My wife and I run a place with about four adults (including us) and twelve high school or collage kids. Three of us are full time, the rest part time. In the last twelve years I have concluded one thing. We need them more than they need us.

When you hire someone they promise you the world. " I can work this day, this day and this day. Ok, great. We do a fantastic job of working around there school and sports schedules. Then slowly but surely it always comes down to… “Well I’ve got this to do so I can’t work this day this week, I’ve got that to do so I need off that day next week.” This ones sick, that ones car broke and can’t make in. One thing after the other. Round and round we go.

What do we do? For the most part there all good kids. When they are at work they do a great job. All of them say we’re great to work for. but for they last few months its been one thing after another. We’re constantly jugging the schedule around. My wife is ready to blow a gasket. She says the schedule is consuming her. We just wish people could work there scheduled shifts. If anyone else would like to vent or share some ideas I’d love to hear them. Thanks for listening, I feel better already.

I totally understand, this week along I think its around 13 shifts that have been called out for?? alot of them were for the snow storm we had over here but still. yestarday we had 2 ppl call out in the morning and 2 ppl at night call out. I wish i could just call out sometimes and it be ok but we dont have that luxory. do we!?

I make my employees find their own coverage.

One idea that has worked well for us is to hire 2 or 3 more people than you need. Now the kid wanting 15 hours is only scheduled for 12. The 40 hour guy gets 35. Everyone gets hungry for hours. They don’t want to call in and miss 5 more hours. They just might pick up a 5 shift when someone else is sick. All of the sudden, you have swung the pendulum, they need you more than you need them!

The way I handle scheduleing is somewhat different than what I have seen others in my area do. I hire a person for a set schedule that is to be worked every week. When the staff member is hired it is made clear in writing what their shifts are. If the person needs to have a night off that is in their set schedule they are reponsible for getting one of the other staff members to cover the shift. BOTH STAFF MEMBERS MUST COME TO ME TO VERIFY THE SCHEDULE CHANGE. This has worked for me for the last four years. Yes there are times when someone calls in sick but I have my staff trained to call early so I can make the arrangements. If you pull a no show and have not called before your shift starts, I have a written agreement with all staff that is their official resignation.

This was one of the breaking points for me too. I don’t have a solution for you, but I can tell you that I had the same problem, so you aren’t rowing alone!

I did set schedules. I had people call coworkers to cover their own shifts. It was still maddening. Especially when everyone wanted off for the same event. Spring Break, Prom, Football Games, Basketball Games, Bonaroo, Jazz Fest, Derby, etc!

Getting the employees who want off to cover their own shifts is always the route to go. We have a copy of the schedule,the employees phone numbers and a switch sheet all by the office door. All the employee has to do is find someone to cover them,get them to agree on it,put it on the switch sheet and have me ok it. It works out great.

Some basic principles we use:

We will accomodate schedule requests made before the schedule is posted. We post schedules about 10-12 days in advance. So today is the 6th of March. The schedule for the week beginning the 16th was posted two days ago.

Changes needed after the schedule is posted are the employees responsibility to cover.

Employees who “call out” as the original poster describes it are history. (obviously real emergengies are different). The bottom line is that if you allow it, it is allowed. Whatever you tolorate you will get more of. I don’t know where you are located, but the “we need them more than they need us” picture has changed dramatically in the last year.

People who provide a schedule request and do not change it much get what they want. Period. We start by writing them in first. After than we fill the schedule by more or less by seniority based on requests. If we run out of people before the schedule is filled we hire people who can work the shifts we need covered and let go people who can only work at times we don’t need more help.

We set the expectation for the numbers of shifts and specific days when we advertise positions and during the interview. For example an ad might state, “Cooks wanted, must be available Sundays”.

I do what Daddio does. I also have on my applications a space for school activities that people must fill out and also hours and days that you can work and hours and days that you cannot work.

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I have tried many of them. I would like to let them go when they call in but the sad part is no one wants to work where we live. I have had a help wanted sign up for quite a while. I don’t think people want to work hard anymore from kids to adults. It’s sad to see places like california who have middle class families homeless and I can’t get a teenage kid to work more than two days a week. Those people are homeless and would take any job right now and do a way better job than I get out of the employees in our area. Right now I could fill 2 positions that have been empty for months. It’s sad to think this is our future generation.

Anytime I have trouble finding employees, I take a serious look at what we are paying. We had a lot of trouble finding qualified drivers (I’m not talking about the typical banana boat drivers that smoke in the car), and we were paying 5.50 per hour. Every time I had to put a help wanted sign out for drivers, I upped what we were paying. Our drivers now make between 6.50 - 8.00 + tips + trip charge, and I have a stack of applications of people trying to get in.

The same has been true with cooks and servers. The other thing that allows me to do is be more selective with who I have in my restaurant. We have good people working for us, and if they’re not good they’re out the door because I have good people who would like to work for us.

My labor runs a little higher, around 33% with manager salary, but I’m never at the store during hours, and I don’t have to worry about if our customers are getting taken care of.

I’m not saying this isn’t you, and I don’t know where you’re located or what the market is like there, but I know that I’ve been in similar situations and this has been my fix. It wasn’t a quick fix, but a couple of years later I’m very glad that I made these changes.

I think we all get fed up with scheduling every now and again…no matter what system we use. I know for me in the past I tried to accomodate every request out there even if it left me in a bind. Oddly enough I watched one of my store managers just say no, or find your own replacement and in time the crew and I realized they were requests. Since then I have changed, not the staff so much. Sure in the begining we lost some long time players who couldn’t adjust to the new way.

So the past couple of years the way we do it is:

We have a request area on the schedule. They are reminded they are requests only.
When we make the schedule if it works great, if not they have to find a replacement. They will usually wheel and deal with each other on changing a shift…I’ll work for you and you work for me on … Of course it has to be approved.

We try and keep an extra part timer around to help fill in areas. It is easier to send people home early than ask people to work.

As for things like prom…we take inventory about 4 weeks ahead of time of who needs off and post a notice that ALL employees are required to work regardless of their regular shift unless they are going to prom. The notice reads:

We are giving you 4 weeks notice that all employees are required to work April 25 regardless of regular shift. You have 4 weeks to arrange babysitting, transportation etc. No expceptions. Sign below that you have read and understand.

Then we over staff to cover the shift and send people home in case people call in/ quit. I don’t think it reasonable for me to think someone will miss prom to work, so we figure it out…ahead of time. In the past I have called in some old ex employees in to help if need be.

We also from time to time put on the schedule no request for …July 3. I do it well in advance. Also if too many people start requesting the same day off I put no more requests for May 3.

As for hiring, you might try putting up a new sign. Sometimes signs become part of the landscape if they are hung too long.

Another option for hiring is to ask your current great employees for a lead. I read an article by Big dave and that is how we came up with this idea…We ask employees if they know anyone who needs a job, if they are hired and work for 6 months they get 50 bucks. The employee becomes the mentor for this person while in training unless they are in a different area. We have got some great people this way.

It is okay to let your employees know in advance that if they are too sick to come to work they must have a doctor’s note. We have people try and call in withhout one, I tell them they can find someone or they better be here and usually the friday night bug they have disappears and they are healed by the time they come in.

I also tell the employees I would rather them call and be honest with me that so and so is having a party can I get off? If I can work it out or they can work it out fine or come in and cover the rush and they can leave early but don’t call and lie to me that gramma has died again. That is the end of their job.