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    Shift Changes – Policies and Best Practices


    In the retail business, shift changes are a regular occurrence. And while they can be a bit chaotic at times, they can also run smoothly with the right scheduling system, policies, and best practices. This blog outlines essential tips for ensuring smooth shift changes. So, whether you’re a business owner or manager, read on to learn how to simplify shift-changes.

    Communicate Scheduling Expectations in Advance

    Effectively communicating employee scheduling expectations is a critical part of successfully leading and managing a team and developing a culture of accountability. In the best conditions, all managers within the company should be setting policy and behavioral expectations within two to four weeks of an employee’s first day. Even so, it’s acceptable to establish expectations during employment if that has not occurred. 

    The benefits of setting expectations with employees include:

    1. Providing clarity and alignment for shift workers and managers
    2. Establishes a baseline for future performance
    3. Enhances communication and employee engagement
    4. Empowers employees to act freely while operating within the guidelines and structure of the company
    5. Creates a reference point if expectations are not met
    6. Provides a way to hold employees accountable
    7. Clarifies punctuality and shift expectations and defines overtime conditions.

    As part of the onboarding practice, supervisors should put aside 30 to 60 minutes to have a “setting expectations” conversation with new employees. The process should include a discussion about the job description, job performance, appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the workplace, scheduling (i.e.: constantly changing schedules), and an opportunity for the employee to ask clarification questions. 

    Keep Communication Simple and Clear

    Simplify your communication so that you leave no room for interpretation. For example, long conversations may cause employees to lose interest and misunderstand your directions.

    The TimeWellScheduled app improves communication between employees and managers. Save thousands a year by using your devices for time and attendance tracking!

    Posting the Work Schedule in Advance

    In jurisdictions where there are no scheduling laws governing how far in advance, employers must notify staff of their scheduled working hours. The Living Wage Foundation encourages companies to give the team at least four weeks’ prior notice of their shifts.

    Shift Schedule Stability Laws

    Predictive scheduling legislation has changed the way businesses make their schedules. These laws aim to give shift workers more predictability and stability, providing them a chance to plan. To illustrate, if they know their work hours in advance, they will more likely be able to prepare for a second job, child care, or other responsibilities that must be planned. What’s more, TimeWellscheduled ensures that your scheduling and payroll always comply with local laws.

    Shift Stability Laws

    These laws have specific regulations with which businesses must comply, and they also have many other details employers must be familiar with. However, looking at this from a more fundamental point of view, here is how much notice employers whom the laws apply must give employees in each jurisdiction (Workforce):

    • San Francisco: 14 days notice; went into effect March 1, 2016.
    • Emeryville: 14 days notice; went into effect July 1, 2017.
    • San Jose: No advance notice component, but employers must offer additional hours to existing, qualified part-time employees before hiring more employees; on March 13, 2017.
    • Berkeley: There is no advance notice component, but employees may request flexible or predictable working arrangements twice per year and after a significant life event.
    • New York: 14 days notice; went into effect November 26, 2017.
    • Seattle: 14 days notice; went into effect July 1, 2017.
    • SeaTac: No advance notice is required, but employers must offer additional hours to existing, qualified part-time employees before hiring more employees, covering only large hospitality and transportation employers.
    • Philadelphia: 10 days notice; went into effect April 1, 2020.
    • Chicago: 10 days notice; goes into effect July 1, 2020.
    • Oregon: 14 days notice; went into effect August 8, 2017.

    Take Advantage of TimeWellScheduled Efficiency & Innovation

    Building your team’s schedule using an online scheduling system significantly outweighs the older manual methods. Software scheduling solutions like TimeWellScheduled allow managers to:

    • Eliminate Conflicts: Ensure your schedule runs smoother by viewing each employee’s availability and preferences as you build the schedule.
    • Chaos-Free Shift Changes: you can easily customize the schedule view to make the information you need easy to locate.
    • Save Time: Quickly see who’s working. The Dashboard gives you a snapshot of what’s happening with your schedule right now.
    • Repeat Your Success: When you need to fill an open shift fast, send out a shift alert to all qualified and available staff via email or text.

    Quickly create and edit your scheduling needs with ease and visual clarity. TimeWellScheduled allows you to easily create schedules with time bands, templates, and copying past schedules. Share these schedules with your employees and let them offer shifts or trade them with fellow employees.It gives your shift workers a sense of control, helping alleviate the stress of finding people to cover shift changes.

    For instance, an employee posts the shifts they would like picked up, another team member applies to pick up the shift, and a manager can then choose to approve or deny the shift change. Managers and employees can do this from a desktop computer or using TimeWellSchedule’s mobile app. Click here to view the process.

    Shift Change Policy

    There are several benefits to having a formal shift swapping policy in place. First, it allows your employee’s freedom to be flexible in their shift schedules. More importantly, the policy prevents confusion from happening when it comes to payroll or administrative duties.

    Standard work shift change policies include rules like:

    • Shift changes require manager approval.
    • Shift changes must be submitted for approval at least X days in advance.
    • Shifts can only be swapped between employees with the same job position.
    • Shifts can only be swapped between employees with the same skill levels.
    • Shift changes cannot occur if they will result in overtime pay.

    TimeWellscheduled streamlines work schedules by allowing employees to communicate through the scheduling app or an online portal. This saves employees and managers time and energy that can be used to do other critical tasks.

    It is essential for both the employee and employer to be on the same page concerning scheduling. By setting clear expectations from the beginning, employers can avoid any confusion or conflicts down the road. Similarly, employees need to know what is expected of them to hold themselves accountable. A set schedule also allows employees to plan their lives outside of work accordingly. What strategies have you found effective in setting employee scheduling expectations?


    Shift Scheduling Terminology

    There are several types of shift schedules. Here are some standard terms used to explain the different types of shift work:

    • Consecutive night shifts are when an employee works their shift and immediately comes back to work their next shift. This shift pattern can be difficult for employees because it can disrupt their sleep schedule.
    • Fixed shift: Fixed shifts are when shift workers have the same work schedules every day.
    • Morning shift: Morning shifts mean you work from the early morning until the early afternoon.
    • Evening shift: Evening shifts start in the evening and end in the early morning.
    • Opening shift: Opening shifts are when a shift worker opens the business at the start of business hours.
    • Closing shift: Closing shifts are the shifts at the end of the day. Employees working closing shifts are responsible for closing the business.
    • Rotating shifts: You work different hours on different days when working rotating shifts. This can be hard to get used to because it can mess with your sleep schedule.
    • Explain the evening shift: evening shifts are a shift that starts in the evening.
    • Night Shift: The night shift begins in the evening and ends in the mid-to-later morning.


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