Retail staff scheduling can feel like a juggling act, and this feeling is often magnified during the holiday season. During this time of year stores are often busier, peak times tend to change and many stores stay open later. As a manager, one of the biggest retail employee scheduling challenges is giving full-time, part-time and seasonal employees enough hours without overwhelming them. Many retail stores also have a budget limit for payroll costs they must stay under, which presents another challenge.
What’s more, in today’s pursuit to achieve a better work-life balance for all workers including those in retail, certain states are putting laws into place that require employers to give workers more schedule stability. Laws such as California’s Schedules That Work Act require employers to give workers more notice about their schedules, and employers get penalized if they make schedule changes less than 24 hours ahead of time. To keep your workers happy while also meeting your store’s staffing needs during the holidays, here are some retail staff scheduling best practices:
1) Determine peak periods of business
To avoid overscheduling employees, look at sales reports from last year to determine the busiest days and times of the day during the holidays. When you create the schedule, make sure you schedule full-time/salaried employees and top performers first during these busy periods, followed by seasonal, part-time and newer workers. Also, try to give employees a fair balance in their schedules of busy shifts along with quieter shifts.
2) Balance skills needed from workers into retail staff scheduling
One of the retail scheduling best practices that helps ensure shifts go more smoothly and customers’ needs are met is knowing your employees’ strongest skills and scheduling at least one employee that has these skills for each shift. For example, during the holiday rush in your store it’s important to have at least one staff member on hand that has a lot of inventory knowledge about items in high demand. Likewise, if you have a particularly tech-savvy employee that can help resolve any POS system issues that occur, they can be a lifesaver during a busy shift where a lot of customers are in line to check out.
3) Give employees several weeks’ notice about their schedules
To allow plenty of time for employees to make personal arrangements and swap shifts with other employees, one of the most important retail scheduling best practices is giving employees’ at least two or three weeks’ notice about what shifts they are scheduled for. To avoid any legal complications, make sure employees sign off on their schedules. Also require that schedule changes be done within a certain amount of time, and get any changes confirmed in writing.
4) Seek input from employees about retail staff scheduling
The happier your employees are, the happier the customers they serve will be. When you hire employees ask about their availability, and keep a record of preferred shifts for each employee. Meet as many of their retail staff scheduling preferences as you can. Knowing that you care about what is most convenient for them will go a long way in improving employee morale and brand loyalty among your staff.
5) Use Automated Cloud-Based Scheduling Software
To make it easier for employees to view and make changes to their schedules, communicate with managers and other staff, and keep notes about their scheduling preferences that others can view, use cloud-based scheduling software. Some software programs you may want to consider include Humanity, TrackSmart Scheduling and Staffvelox. These solutions take a lot of work out of retail staff scheduling for everyone involved.
Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.