Work Schedules for Employees: A Supervisor’s Guide

Developing work schedules for employees is necessary for business efficiency and productivity. There are numerous methods a manager can use to schedule employees and numerous work schedule options available that work for various business needs and policies.

Below we offer a guide to support you in evaluating the types of work schedules available to determine which work best for your department or organization.

What Are Work Schedules?

The determined times and days of the week that an employee is to work are referred to as their work schedule. Work schedules impact an employee’s payment, job responsibilities, and benefits eligibility. Federal, state, and local laws can also impact work schedules.

Why Are Employee Work Schedules Needed?

Improves efficiency. Knowing when employees are scheduled to work reduces time spent attempting to figure out where employees are and making adjustments, so you can focus on productivity.

Ensures legal compliance. There are numerous labor and employment laws to abide by, and effectively scheduling employees makes it easier to abide by them and assess compliance.

Provides consistency. It is easier to manage employees when you know when and where they are, allowing you to delegate more effectively and do your job better as a manager, too.

Helps calculate labor costs. Proper scheduling practices help to ensure you don’t over- or under-schedule staff to meet your demands, which means you don’t overspend or come up shorthanded.

Improves customer and client satisfaction. Customers and clients like to know they’ll be well taken care of and when they can expect to reach someone within your organization or at your call center, and proper scheduling of employees allows you to schedule employees based on skill sets to meet these needs.

10 Employee Work Schedule Options (with Examples)

Here are 10 different types of work schedules with examples.

Full-Time Schedules

Full-time work schedules are those that meet the hours defined as full-time by the company. In many instances, full-time employees work for the same number of hours and days each week. Employees with full-time schedules can be paid hourly or based on a salary, depending on their job classification. Most full-time employees are eligible for employer-sponsored benefits.

Example: A standard full-time schedule is working five eight-hour days, like 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with an hour for lunch, Monday through Friday.

Part-Time Schedules

Part-time work schedules are those where the employee works less than what’s considered full-time in a given week at a company. Since most organizations consider 40 hours a full-time work week, part-time work would be any regularly scheduled hours that fall under 40 hours per week. A part-time employee’s schedule sometimes changes from week to week, as well.

Example: An employee who works Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. would work five five-hour days, or 25 hours per week, which equates to part-time.

Fixed Schedules

With a fixed schedule, the employee works the exact same days and hours from week to week, which is typically predetermined before employment commences. Fixed schedules often stay the same throughout one’s employment with an organization, and both part-time and full-time schedules can be fixed work schedules.

Example: A part-time fixed schedule could be Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. weekly, and a full-time fixed schedule could be Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with 30 minutes for lunch each week.

Flexible Schedules

Flexible schedules operate similarly to fixed schedules, with some flexibility built in. The key difference is the flexibility to start and end at different times of the day, as long as the total number of weekly hours is met. Some employers require workers to be on-site or working during core business hours with the flexibility to alter their start and end times outside of those hours. Some companies might allow their employees to work some hours in the office and the rest remotely or at home.

Example: A full-time, flexible schedule requires employees to work 40 hours per week and be at work Monday through Friday between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., with the option to arrive between 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and leave between 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Split Shifts

A split shift schedule is where an employee works one part of their shift, clocks out, and then clocks back in to work the second part of their shift. Split shifts are common in the service, hospitality, and transportation industries.

Example: A server clocking in for their lunch shift, then clocking out for a few hours, and then clocking back in to help with the busy dinner rush would be considered a split shift schedule.

Rotating Shift Work Schedules

With rotating shifts, workers go in for a series of night and day shifts. Industries that operate 24/7, like some hospitality businesses and the healthcare industry, typically have shift workers.

Example: A nurse that is scheduled to work three night shifts, has two days off, and is then scheduled to work three day shifts, would be considered to have a shift work schedule.

On-Call Work

On-call schedules are those where employees are on-call to work if needed outside of their standard shifts. Employees are typically on-call for late evening or very early morning hours outside of their normal working hours. These types of schedules typically rotate between employees.

Example: Someone being available to work if called in from Monday through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. once a month.

Compressed Work Week

A compressed work week schedule means the employee works a standard number of hours in fewer days. In other words, if your standard work week is 40 hours over five days, the individual would work 40 hours in fewer days.

Example: A common compressed schedule is a 4 X 10, or four ten-hour days. Another common example is 4 X 9 and 1/2 day Fridays, which equates to four nine-hour days and one four-hour day, with the standard being that the half day, or four-hour day, falls on Friday.

Seasonal Employment Schedules

As the name implies, seasonal schedules are based on various seasons of the year and are temporary positions. Seasonal work can be part-time or full-time for the duration of a specific season, such as Christmas, wintertime for ski resorts, or the time leading up to the Fourth of July to help sell fireworks. Seasonal work is common for businesses that rely on the weather to offer certain services, like white water rafting, hiking, swimming, and skiing, and in retail settings that need additional staff for busier times of the year, like around the holidays.

Example: A retail store that hires extra cashiers from October through to the end of December to support the busy holiday season would be offering seasonal employment.

Freelance Work Schedules

A freelancer is hired to do specific work for an individual or business, though they are not considered employees of the organization. In some instances, a freelancer’s schedule might be set by the organization if agreed upon by the freelancer, though in many instances, as long as the work gets done, freelance workers define their schedules. Freelance work often pays by the project vs. by the hour.

Tips to Create Employee Work Schedules

  • Determine the needs of your organization based on the type of work, shifts that require covering, and so on.
  • Research employment laws pertaining to your business and consult legal guidance to ensure compliance.
  • Inquire about what employees would prefer.
  • Create a work schedule policy that defines scheduling rules and guidelines.

Finally, once your team’s work schedules are determined, find a place to post them for all members of the team to see. That way, it can save time and efficiency for the entire team.

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