Aug 6, 2023

From chaos to control: How Shift Planning Online Can Help Your Business Thrive

As a business owner, you know that time is money. Every minute your employees spend on tasks that don't contribute to your bottom line is a missed opportunity. That's why effective shift planning is critical to your business's success. But manual shift planning can be daunting and error-prone, especially if you have a large team of hourly workers. That's where shift planning online comes in. Using digital tools, you can streamline the scheduling process, reduce errors, and ensure that your employees are always in the right place at the right time.

In this article, we'll explore the benefits of shift planning online and how it can help your business thrive by maximising your resources. Whether you're a small business owner or managing a large team, you'll find valuable insights and practical tips to help you make the most of your time and resources. So, let's dive in and discover how shift planning online can transform your business.

Benefits of Shift Planning Online

Shift planning is essential to running any business that relies on hourly employees. It ensures that you have the right staff at the right time to meet customer demand, complete necessary tasks, and keep your business running smoothly. With traditional shift planning methods, managers spend hours creating schedules, tracking employee availability, and updating shift changes. However, using a rota planner to schedule shifts online can automate many of these tasks, freeing up valuable time for managers to focus on other aspects of the business.

One of the most significant advantages of planning shifts online is that it allows managers to track employee availability and schedule changes easily. This means that managers can quickly find a replacement if an employee calls in sick or has an emergency without disrupting the entire schedule. Additionally, online shift planning allows managers to understand their labour costs better, ensuring they are not overspending on labour.

Another benefit of shift planning online is that it can help improve employee satisfaction and reduce turnover. By allowing employees to view their schedules and request time off quickly, managers can improve communication and provide a better work-life balance for their workers. This can increase job satisfaction and lower turnover, saving the business time and resources in the long run.

Traditional vs Online Shift Planning

Traditional shift planning often involves using spreadsheets or paper schedules to manage employee schedules. Managers must manually input employee availability and track shift changes, making it easy for errors to occur. Additionally, traditional shift planning can be time-consuming, especially if a business has a large team.

On the other hand, online shift planning allows managers to easily create schedules, track employee availability, and make changes in real time. With a digital shift planner, managers can quickly find replacements for shift changes or call-ins, reducing the risk of understaffing. Additionally, online shift planning can help reduce errors by automating many scheduling tasks previously done manually.

Features of a Good Shift Planning Tool

When choosing a shift planning tool, there are several features to consider.

First and foremost, staff members should benefit from a user-friendly self-service app accessible from mobile devices to receive notifications, update their availabilities, and submit time off requests.

Moreover, managers and employees should be able to edit schedules quickly. Relating to the staff members' aforementioned app, another essential feature is tracking employee availability and time off requests, helping managers ensure they are scheduling employees when available and preventing scheduling conflicts. Additionally, the tool should allow for real-time updates, so managers can quickly adjust schedules if needed.

A good shift planner should also offer two shift types: open shifts and assigned shifts. Open shifts allow managers to list eligible employees who can apply for the free shift. Managers can then decide to give the slots by manually selecting a list of the best free employees or automatically assigning the space using a first-come-first-served basis.

In today's fast pacing world, a feature that has become critical is giving the ability to employees to submit shift trade requests so employees can swap shifts if they have a last-minute problem.

Finally, the shift planner should be connected to employees' Google, Apple, or Microsoft calendars to avoid pitfalls and miscommunication if employees stick to their old habits of tracking their time through their calendars.

How to Choose the Right Shift Planning Software

With so many shift planning tools available, choosing the right one for your business can be challenging. When evaluating software options, consider the following:

1. Ease of use: Is the software offering an intuitive schedule creation?

2. Features: Does the software offer the features you need to manage employee schedules effectively?

3. Integrations: Does the software integrate with other tools like payroll or HR systems?

4. Customer support: Does the software provider offer reliable customer support?

5. Pricing: Is the software affordable and within your budget?

Considering these factors, you can choose a shift planning tool that meets your business's needs.

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Setting Up Your Shift Planning System

Once you've chosen a shift planning tool, it's time to set up your system. Start by inputting employee information and availability into the software. From there, create a schedule template that can be used to create schedules quickly and efficiently. Finally, communicate any changes or updates to employees and encourage them to use the system to request time off or make schedule changes.

Establishing guidelines and policies for shift planning is essential, such as how far in advance employees must request time off or how shift changes will be handled. Setting clear expectations ensures everyone is on the same page and reduces the risk of scheduling conflicts.

Best Practices for Shift Planning Online

To get the most out of your shift planning system, consider implementing the following best practices:

1. Schedule in advance: Schedule at least two weeks to allow employees to plan their personal lives and make necessary arrangements.

2. Monitor labour costs: Keep track of labour costs to ensure you spend appropriately.

3. Encourage communication: Encourage employees to use the shift planning tool to request time off or change their schedules. This can help improve communication and reduce scheduling conflicts.

4. Be flexible: Be open to adjusting the schedule as needed. Unexpected events can happen, and it's crucial to adapt quickly.

Maximising the Benefits of Shift Planning Online

By using shift planning online, businesses can save time, reduce errors, and improve employee satisfaction. However, it's vital to integrate shift planning with other systems, such as payroll and HR, to maximise the benefits.

By integrating these systems, managers can easily track labour costs and ensure that employees are being paid correctly. Additionally, HR systems can help manage employee benefits and track time off requests, making creating schedules that work for everyone easier.

Case Studies: Successful Implementation of Shift Planning Online

Many businesses have successfully implemented shift planning online and have seen significant benefits. For example, a retail store in London reduced labour costs by 10% and reduced employee turnover by 43% after implementing shift scheduling software. In addition, the software allowed managers to find replacements for call-ins quickly and provided employees with a better work-life balance.

Another example is a building company whose deputy manager saved 58 hours per month when scheduling rota. The software allowed the manager to quickly adjust schedules based on customer demand and worker availability, ensuring that the working sites were always appropriately staffed.


Shift planning online is a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes. Using digital tools, managers can streamline the scheduling process, reduce errors, and improve employee satisfaction. When choosing a shift planning tool, consider ease of use, features, integrations, customer support, and pricing. Once you've selected a tool, set up your system, establish guidelines, and encourage communication. By following best practices and integrating shift planning with payroll and HR systems, businesses can maximise the benefits of shift planning online and thrive.

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