Take a look at your staff schedule. Go ahead, I’ll wait...
Unless you are extraordinarily lucky, that schedule very likely has holes, open shifts that you have not yet been able to fill. No reason to feel guilty -- your situation is as commonplace as ants at a picnic. But there are steps you can take that will greatly increase your chances of filling those shifts, not just now, but going forward.
The key to dealing with open shifts is to be proactive. Let’s face it, no one’s life has gotten any simpler. Balancing the time demands of jobs and families is nearly impossible, and that’s on a good day. So if you can avoid waiting until the last minute to ask someone to fill an open shift, you’re far more likely to find a willing participant, or at least one that is less grumpy.
The smart move is to put your schedule together as far in advance as possible -- two to three weeks out at a minimum. Give yourself some breathing room, and keep it that way. Roll that two- or three-week advance view forward, so you can regularly avoid those last-minute scrambles that can make that vein in your temple throb.
But don’t keep that schedule to yourself. It’s good that you know in advance about open shifts. But if you share that information, you might actually find that you don’t have to do all of the heavy lifting, at least not all the time.
By making that schedule available to staff, you’re providing them with an alternative to getting an unexpected last-minute call to come to work. Providing transparency into the schedule, by posting it so that all employees have access to it, provides an opportunity for staff members to take more control of the process and pick shifts around their schedules, rather than waiting for someone to make the decision for them.
If you can make the schedule available through electronic means, even better. That will eliminate the need to constantly update paper schedules that may be posted around the facility. And if you can push the information to staff through email or some other messaging system, you’re increasing the chances that they will be aware of open shifts. If staff can review and sign up for open shifts through technological means, you’re approaching scheduling nirvana.
The key element in this strategy is transparency and communication, and that might actually make some people nervous. If you’re concerned that open shifts might reflect badly on your reputation, relax! The struggle to fill open shifts is an industry-wide problem, so you have lots of company. And consider this: has keeping a tight lid on your schedule done anything to eliminate your open shift issues? Hmm? On the other hand, if adopting the tactics described here helps to put a dent in your scheduling challenges, your reputation certainly won’t suffer.
So take another look at your staff schedule...