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How to Get Employees to Show Up for Shifts
Thom Wilton
Director of Marketing
Nov. 2nd, 2023
5 min read

It’s a question every business owner will ask themselves at one stage or another. Because let’s face it, managing people is hard. Getting employees to show up for their shifts on time is even harder. Your team is your most valuable asset; so we’re here to share our tips on how to get your employees to show up for more of their shifts.

Make it easy for team member’s to find coverage for their shifts.

If employees are not showing up to shifts, it could be because it was too difficult to find someone to cover for them, so they call out day-of instead. Pushing the dreaded hours-long phone tree onto your employees is just too much work in the 21st century. Putting the onus of shift coverage on the managers too time consuming.

This is a situation where managers actually need to do less and give employees the tools to handle it themselves.

Seamless shift swapping and shift flexibility is becoming not only a necessary tool for day to day management, but “shift flexibility” is becoming a recruiting tactic of some of the largest frontline organizations. Retail chain ‘The Gap’ even site “schedule flexibility” as a perk on their jobs recruitment page. Knowing that employees can self-manage their own schedules, and easily find themselves coverage or extra work is one of the top things frontline employees look for, and the team becomes more reliable to the shifts they agree to keep.

Allow your employees to easily provide their own availability.

You can’t expect to manage your staffs’ schedules if you don’t know when they are available. Allow them to submit their own availabilities so that you always have the most up-to-date information and nothing slips through the cracks. Managing team members time off though can be challenging if it’s done verbally, sometimes by email, othertimes through a text, a post-it or some other method of communication. Keeping one centralized and easy way for teams to submit availability or time off requests give you and your managers the best chance of keeping things up to date. If availability is always up to date, you should also be able to see all staff availability at a glance so that when it comes time to add shifts, you can do it quickly, easily and without conflict.

Scheduling to availability preference also increases a team member’s feeling of responsibility for showing up when they said they’d be available.

Keep clear communication between managers and teams.

Communication is a key element to running a successful business. This is especially true in every business that employs frontline teams where it can be difficult to stay on top of staff schedules and shift changes. It can be exhausting for all parties when there is a lack of communication between management and employees. Miscommunication builds mistrust, mistrust leads to apathy, and apathy… no show’s at work.

Remember that creating a schedule is only one form of communication! Making sure there are open lines or tools for team members to connect builds culture and community. Engaged employees show up to work.

Schedule consistently and at least 2 weeks in advance.

Employees too have a lot of out of work commitments, things to juggle (like childcare), and need to plan. A top reason employees aren’t showing up to shifts: they weren’t given enough notice.

Unstable schedules also reduce employee commitment and job satisfaction, leading to higher turnover. In addition to direct costs of turnover, including the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training, there are operational problems. Managers working in this environment are fighting fires, spending more time filling in absences and dealing with operational problems than developing employees and finding ways to improve performance.

Not surprisingly, unstable schedules reduce employees’ ability to perform well on the job. They make more mistakes.

One way to help, use an online scheduling system that allows managers to simply “clone” or copy schedules week over week or month over month with ease. That way, its easy to managers to find the time to build the schedule, they can replicate their work over time, and employees have what they need in time.

Stable scheduling helps yout bottom line too.

Sam’s Club moved to stable schedules in 2019 through a combination of people investment and operational changes. It increased wages for key roles by $5 to $7 an hour, cross-trained employees, made workload more consistent by shifting overnight employees to days, and introduced new tools to make workloads more predictable. In addition to enabling stable schedules, these changes helped Sam’s Club increase customer satisfaction and sales, improve productivity, and reduce turnover by up to 70%.

What to do now?

When you want employees to show up for work, the first step is realizing that you can take steps to build morale and a culture that values reliability. You can also put policies and tools in place to hold the teams accountable and give employees responsibility and flexibility at the same time. It’s your job as a leader to communicate clearly, and give your team tools to succeed – like a way to swap shifts, for example.

To keep your employees showing up for work you need to provide a well-laid out, reliable employee scheduling system. It saves money for the company, it decreases the stress for employees, and most importantly: it allows your business to function properly. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember that communication is key with employee scheduling – in both how the schedule is distributed, when the schedule is distributed, and how easily can employees communicate or self-manage needed changes. Prospr allows you to consolidate all of your communication and scheduling tools into one easy to use platform. If you’re interested in learning more, book a demo with us here.

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