ROANOKE, Va. — In today’s tight job market, creating a worker-friendly job schedule becomes more important. 

Employees can easily move from one job to another without fear of being unemployed for any length of time. Therefore, what once was a minor concern, work schedule, has become a major consideration to many employees.

My suggestions are geared toward those operations that must work multiple shifts and multiple days per week. A one-shift, five-days-a-week operation has fewer options in its schedule. But a seven-days-a-week operation has many options as to how it schedules its employees.

My first advice is to sit down and review your operation and determine which are your busiest days and which are your slower days. Look back at the last three months and determine what your production was each day of the week. 

Is there a trend that can be viewed looking at the work load first that makes it easier to determine how much help is needed on each day? Does the volume change from shift to shift and day to day? The longer period of time you examine the better. 

Once the workload is determined, the next step is to calculate how many hours are required each day to complete that task. How many hours will it take to produce that many clean pounds of laundry? 

Most managers have an idea of how many pounds per worked hour their laundry can produce. Dividing the pounds per hour into the expected workload will give you an idea of the staffing you will need each day you operate. 

You must then decide whether you want to use full-time employees or part-time employees or a mixture of both. Part-time employees make it easier to flex up and down with volume, but full-time employees are more reliable.  

Developing a work schedule for a seven-days-a-week operation is best when employees share in the burden of the weekends. Every other weekend is easily acceptable to the employees, whereas a work schedule that calls for employees to work every weekend will be more difficult to fill and will experience greater turnover. 

Employees understand the concept of a shared burden, providing all participate equally in the sharing of that burden. 

Scheduling off vacation days and holidays should not be allowed to unfairly impact that shared burden. While it is acceptable for an employee to schedule one or two weekends off a year, it is totally unacceptable for an employee to use their vacation days to avoid working every weekend.  

Certain work schedules will be preferred over others. Allowing existing employees (based on length of service or productivity) first opportunity at an open schedule will allow them to feel they have a chance to improve their situation with the company. 

A clearly defined work schedule that is based on volume and shares the burden of weekends and holidays among the crew will help result in longer term employees. 

Starting time for a shift can also be an important factor. While I preferred to start my operation at 7 a.m., my day-shift employees preferred to start at 6 a.m. This allowed working mothers to have their husbands get the children off to school in the morning and then to be there when they got home. Those employees without children preferred this schedule because it gave them quality time in the afternoon for shopping and doctor appointments.  

The key to this article is to understand that how a schedule is developed and implemented will have a lot to do with your employee happiness and length of service. Turnover is expensive, and anything we can do to decrease it is worth the effort. Balancing the needs of the company and your employees is a manager’s job.      

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