Honing Entrepreneurship Skills: Employee Scheduling

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Entrepreneurs are not born; they are made through hard work and determination. Anyone can learn the skills to become a great entrepreneur, and there are endless software options to help you on your journey. Things like learning to be more efficient, delegating tasks, and updating software platforms are all things anyone can do to improve their business sense.

One major area of running or managing a business is scheduling work hours for employees. Most companies have various employees working different jobs at different pay rates. This can make budgeting and planning a nightmare. Each employee has a different availability schedule, as well as a different designation between part-time and full-time. You may even have to deal with one worker who takes on multiple jobs at the same establishment, so double booking becomes an issue. On top of all that, requests for time off and shift changes are constantly changing and need to be accounted for when the schedule is created.

Work Hours

One of the first things you need to learn about when managing a business is how to handle all the work hours. First of all, what are work hours? Work hours refers to the amount of time that an employee must be on duty at their place of employment. One thing to remember is that the time card for an employee is a legal document, whether it be a physical card or online, that can be used to ensure compliance with labor laws on the local, state, and federal levels, so things must be done in order. Not having a clear record or having an incorrect record can cause you legal problems.

Work hours can fall into three categories: full-time, part-time, and overtime. Full-time work hours were instituted in 1940 by the Fair Labor Standards Act to set limits on the maximum number of hours an employer could demand employees work each week. Before this law was passed, employees could require their employees to work as many hours as they wanted with no regulations. Now, this number is set at 40 hours each week. There is no minimum for full-time work, only a maximum, so some companies have opted to have a shorter workweek, some going as low as 30 hours per week.

Because there is no minimum number of hours required to constitute full-time work, there are no regulations for how many hours make up a part-time work schedule. That number depends on how many hours you designate as a full-time workday. Once you decide how many hours constitute a full-time schedule, then anything less than that is part-time. Generally, part-time workers are set at half as many hours as full-time employees.

This makes sense because setting part-time hours just under full-time hours usually leads to disgruntled employees. Full-time employees often have access to healthcare and retirement plans that are not available to part-time employees. If the part-time employees are only working a few hours less than the full-time employees, they may wonder what the point is and start looking for other work.

Anything over the limit of 40 hours for full-time now becomes overtime work. Once an employee enters into overtime, their pay increases to 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for those hours. This is sometimes referred to as “time and a half.” Overtime hours should be limited when possible because the expense to pay them adds up over time. This expense will affect your labor budget, overhead expenses, profit margins, and taxes. Instead of having a full-time employee work a lot of overtime, it may make sense to hire a lower wage part-time employee to pick up the slack. This can come out to less money spent on employee paychecks, and it also gives the full-time employee more time off of work.

Recording Hours

When calculating the work hours for an employee, you will first need to determine how you will record the hours, so they are accurate. You can either use a written sign-in sheet, a clock that will print the time on a piece of paper, or a computer-based tracking system. Some systems use a combination of a couple of these methods, but it basically boils down to those options.

Next, you will need to choose a format to track time. You can either choose to use standard time or military time. Standard time is what is usually shown on a clock with numbers from 1-12 for morning hours and then repeating again for the afternoon hours. Military time uses a 24-hour time frame, so there are no repeating numbers. Military time often works better because instead of counting the hours worked, a simple subtraction problem will give the total to you.

It may also be important to set up a rounding policy to account for some people getting to work a little early and some arriving a little late. It can be very hard to calculate the correct number of hours worked when the numbers are uneven. Keeping track of the time in 15-minute increments so that anything under seven minutes worked is rounded down while anything over seven is rounded up. This makes keeping track of time much more straightforward.

It may be necessary to sort your work hours into categories so you can track them better. Tracking time in categories is helpful when employees may be working different jobs at different pay rates. Separating the work into categories means that the pay is all allotted for the correct amount and you avoid legal issues later.

Calculating Pay

Once you have done these steps, then you can tabulate the hours worked for the week. This is just a matter of figuring up the number of hours worked that week and then multiplying by the hourly rate. Don’t forget that if anything above 40 hours was worked, overtime will need to be calculated. You may also need to figure this twice if the employee was working two separate jobs at different rates. If there are multiple categories for one employee, you may want to cut two different checks to keep better records.

Sometimes there may be errors in the timesheets that will need to be corrected. Employees may forget to clock in or out, or there may be technical issues. If this happens, you will need to talk to your employee and have them initial the change, so it is on record that it was discussed.

Scheduling Ahead

It makes sense that you will need to get an idea of the number of hours an employee is going to work before they actually do the work in order to budget and plan for the whole company. Keeping track of all this can be challenging to do, but there are apps or software programs that can make it easier.

Streamlining this process can make it less of a headache for you and can open up more of your time to spend on other areas of managing the business. You can avoid conflicts in the schedule by using features that offer guidance, suggestions, time-off requests, availability, and notifications for overlapping shifts or double-bookings.

You can even find programs that help you to distribute the work evenly, keep it up to date, find substitutes for shifts, and communicate with the employees. Having all these things in one app will significantly reduce the errors and mix-ups that always seem to happen. Having these open lines of communication with employees also allows everyone to feel like a part of the process which alleviates some of the contentions over who works different shifts.

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