If you’re running your small business without an organised scheduling system – or are just getting started – then you have a lot of opportunities to manage your business more effectively and efficiently.

Work Schedule Guide download banner

Providing employees with an up-to-date and accurate schedule is essential to keeping business operations running smoothly. Stellar scheduling software can improve the efficiency – and ultimately the profitability – of your business! 

Here are the five key strategies to keep in mind when designing a schedule for your employees.

Figure Out a Payroll Budget

First, determine how much of your budget is going to be put towards employee payroll. While the optimal percentage varies from industry to industry, it’s common for small businesses to spend between 15 to 30% of their gross annual revenue on payroll. 

Service-based industries that depend on labour can appropriately allocate up to 50% for payroll. Figure out what your labour needs are to optimally run your business, then stay within this range.   


Staff management software such as
Planday can be useful tools for tracking your payroll spending, easily helping you determine whether you’re in budget or if you’re spending too much. 

If you have employees with variable schedules, the Planday employee Punch Clock app allows your people to easily clock in and clock out, and you to precisely keep track of when employees are working so you can better assess how much you’re spending. 

Use a Scheduling Template

Instead of starting from scratch each time you create a schedule for the coming week or month, save yourself a lot of time and headache by utilising a scheduling template. More often than not, your scheduling needs will be fairly consistent from week to week – seasonal holiday hours will obviously be a little different – so there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel every time you get ready to tackle the tedious task of assigning shifts. 

If you’re just getting started, you can find free employee shift schedules in Excel online. But spreadsheet scheduling can quickly become time-consuming, unreliable, and ineffective, so considering using scheduling software in the long run. Once you see how easy scheduling can be, you’ll forget how much you used to dread the task. 

Planday Excel schedule template on iPad
Categorise Employees by Job or Skill

The various jobs within your company will require varying levels of skill and qualification. Develop a system for tracking the types of jobs that your employees are eligible for and capable of doing. This eliminates scheduling mishaps – like accidentally scheduling someone without the right training on a busy shift. This will also come in handy when employees need to swap shifts.

While it’s possible to to classify employees manually, Planday has a useful employee categorisation feature that allows you to effortlessly keep track of this information. And with so much else on your plate, why not let technology help out?

Develop a Shift-Swapping Policy for Employees

Sometimes things come up. That’s just the way of life. An employee might forget about a conflict, there could be a family emergency, or they may just want to pick up extra shifts. 

Giving your employees the flexibility and autonomy to exchange shifts not only helps prevent employee absenteeism, it makes your employees feel empowered and increases their job satisfaction. 

With that in mind, it’s still important to retain control over shift-swapping. Planday lets you take advantage of customisable settings, like only allowing employees to pick up shifts they are qualified for or limiting how soon before a shift employees are allowed to trade (like requiring 24-hour notice before a shift swap). 

You get to keep control over the approvals but the grunt work of finding someone to pick up the shift is managed by your staff themselves.

Setting policies on shift-swapping ahead of time gives your employees clear expectations on how the schedule will work – eliminating problems before they even begin. 


Schedule Employees Based on Availability and Preferences  

Your employees have a life outside of work. Employees appreciate companies that take their personal schedules into consideration (within reason of course), which leads to higher job satisfaction and loyalty to the company. 

It’s also important to remember this works the other way around too – scheduling people when they have conflicts, or during undesirable shift times, is a recipe for high employee turnover. 

Asking for this information is only the first step – you’ll also need to be able to plan the staff rota accordingly. If you rely only on memory or manually importing this information into spreadsheets things can slip through the cracks.

However, using a scheduling tool that takes availability into consideration when you are doing the rota can save you a lot of headache. Your staff set their availability and work preferences to a centralised location, which also saves you valuable time digging through emails or notepads trying to locate this information. 

No two businesses have the exact same needs, and it will take time to get the scheduling process just right for your small business. Small business owners in particular have much bigger and more important tasks to focus their efforts on than scheduling. 

If you want to save yourself time and start running your business more simply and efficiently, sign up for a free 30-day trial of Planday to test the software out for yourself!

Try Planday CTA banner

Blog cover photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Recommended for you

Planday to be acquired by Xero

Christian Brøndum

Christian Brøndum

5 min read

How to improve efficiencies with Care Home software

Dom Hopkinson

Dom Hopkinson

5 min read

3 Reasons your business needs staff time tracking software

Dom Hopkinson

Dom Hopkinson

5 min read