In the early days of your startup, most of your problems will revolve around getting your idea polished, coming up with the money to build momentum, and attracting your first customers. But once you start generating momentum, your needs will quickly turn to hiring the right staff members and keeping them productive.
Why Some Businesses Have Tighter Scheduling Needs Than Others
If your startup revolves around developing an app, you won’t have to worry too much about staffing—with the right leadership and talent, they can work flexible hours on their own schedules until the project is done. But some startup businesses and organizations, such as those that require 24-hour staffing, have much more rigorous employment demands. For example, scheduling nurses for a hospital requires 24/7 coverage plus specific accommodations for hourly workers, including “floater” positions and different-length shifts.
How to Get a Handle on Your Scheduling Issues
If your startup is dealing with these scheduling challenges, there are a handful of strategies you can try to get a handle on the situation:
- Use shift scheduling software: Your first task should be subscribing to an effective type of scheduling software. There are dozens of different platforms available, but most of them operate on the same basic premise; they’ll allow you to collect and manage all your employees, designate preferred shifts, accommodate special requests, and make it easier for you to schedule your workers without any overlaps, voids, or other hiccups in your process. There are platforms available for multiple niches, so make sure you choose a platform that’s going to cater to your business, specifically.
- Offer flexibility when you can: It may seem counterintuitive to offer your employees more flexibility when it comes to hours and shifts; after all, introducing flexibility is a way of making your system more volatile and less predictable. However, studies show that giving your workers more flexibility can drive up employee retention and satisfaction, which you’ll need if you want your best workers on staff for the long term. Try to accommodate special requests when you can, with the caveat that your workers be willing to work extra shifts when necessary to cover for others in the same environment.
- Use simple rotations: Don’t overcomplicate the scheduling process. Even 24-hour establishments run with a simplified shift change schedule, such as shifts running 8-4, 4-12, and 12-8, with some overlap with floaters who oversee the change. Over time, you may find you need to make adjustments for certain peak periods or during specific days of the week. However, the simpler you keep it, the fewer problems you’ll have in scheduling for the future.
- Hire shift-specific positions: One of the best ways to keep your shifts in order is to be proactive; make your expectations clear from the outset and communicate your needs. You can even do this before you hire your workers, by letting them know exactly what shift they’re going to be working. You can still be flexible with occasional requests for differentiation, but if you have designated morning workers, afternoon workers, and evening workers, your life making schedules is going to be much more straightforward.
- Have backup plans in place: No matter how carefully you plan, how committed your workers are, or how smoothly you run your business, things are going to go wrong. You’ll schedule the wrong number of people. You’ll have workers call in right before a shift. You’ll face huge crowds on days when you expected a slow trickle of people. Reacting blindly to these circumstances as they arise is a poor way to manage your business, so be proactive and create some backup plans for what your business will do in the event of a surprise or a crisis.
Scheduling may never be a breeze, but with these five tactics running, you’ll have a much easier time managing your startup’s staffing requirements. As your business grows, you may eventually hire a person specifically in charge of staffing and scheduling, but in the meantime, you’ll have to rely on automation, proactive communication, and strategic forethought.