If you’re a manager, you understand that scheduling your employees’ work shifts is like keeping things steady on a scale. You have to make a schedule that suits your business and is fair to your staff. It’s a challenging task, but the rewards are substantial if you manage it well. Your employees will be happier, fewer employees will leave, and your operations will go more smoothly. Here are four straightforward tips to help you create a shift schedule that works well for everyone.

Tip 1: Use scheduling software

Fair and efficient shift schedules should provide adequate weekends, days off, and shift lengths while matching labor to customer demand. Doing this manually takes huge effort but pays dividends in higher productivity and lower costs. That’s why shift scheduling with Papershift.com or other automated shift scheduling software is so valuable.

Scheduling software offers many tools and features that eliminate guesswork for you as a manager and enables unparalleled fairness and efficiency. For example:

  • Employees can submit their availability and shift preferences, giving you a starting point for building the schedule.
  • Automated scheduling tools slot staffers into shifts based on availability and projected labor needs.
  • Shift-swapping capabilities let employees pick up or trade shifts when conflicts arise.
  • Accessible on mobile devices so employees can view schedules and request time off on the go.
  • Provides insights like sales trends and labor costs to inform scheduling decisions.

The right scheduling software handles the logistics and gives you more time for personal interactions with staff. With technology doing the heavy lifting, balancing fairness and efficiency becomes much easier.

Tip 2: Involve Employees in the Process

The key to a fair schedule is getting employee input. Have staff submit their availability and desired shifts before creating the schedule. This gives them a voice and helps build buy-in.  Ways to involve staff:

  • Have employees complete availability forms listing times they can and can’t work.
  • Allow staff to submit shift requests indicating preferences like desired days off and maximum shift lengths.
  • Set up a process for shift trades so employees can swap when conflicts arise.
  • Communicate with staff about last-minute schedule changes and get confirmation before finalizing.
  • Once finalized, ask for feedback on the schedule so you can incorporate improvements next round.

Giving employees an active role in the scheduling process results in greater satisfaction. When staff feel heard, they’ll be more understanding of needing to work a less-than-ideal shift now and then. A collaborative approach makes for a smoother scheduling experience all around.

Tip 3: Stagger Start Times

Staggering employee start times helps balance fairness and efficiency in your schedule. It smooths out staffing needs while also accommodating workers.

Schedule some employees to begin at 8 am, others at 8:30 am, and a third group at 9 am. With staggered start times, you ensure sufficient staffing coverage without overloading any single time period. Employees also appreciate flexibility if they can arrive later on certain days.

Just be clear in communicating each employee’s expected start time. Setting start times in stone can seem rigid and unfair. But allowing total flexibility around start times diminishes efficiency. Staggering provides a middle ground – structure for the business but accommodation for workers.

Tip 4: Rotate Weekends and Holidays

To keep weekend and holiday scheduling fair for all employees, set up a rotation. Create a schedule where each staff member works an equal number of weekends and holidays over a set period, such as every six months.

Tracking this rotation ensures equitable treatment. It’s unfair to stick the same employees with all the undesirable shifts. When building the schedule, slot in employees for weekend and holiday shifts based on who is next in the rotation. Also, be transparent about the rotation order so there are no surprises.

Making sure everyone shares weekend and holiday duties equally not only feels fair to staff but builds camaraderie. Employees will understand they all take turns covering harder-to-staff shifts. Rotating these shifts prevents resentment and shows employees you aim to distribute the burden evenly.


Crafting the optimal shift schedule is no easy feat. You need to weigh business demands against employee needs. But the right technology goes a long way in balancing fairness and efficiency. Automated systems provide the infrastructure, while a collaborative approach supplies the human touch. When you combine both, you get schedules that work for your staff and your bottom line. Technology streamlines the process, but your leadership perfects the result.