The days of the high-stress work culture are gone behind us as the business world bows to the science of productivity. Study after study has determined that well-rested and engaged employees are more productive than those who are at their desks 24/7. Science also suggests that multis has led to new scheduling standards as employers seek to find the perfect balance between time at work and desirable outcomes.
The right employee schedule can reduce costs and foster engagement, leading to greater productivity. But it takes skilled leadership and efficient tools to achieve this balance.
Why Optimized Employee Schedules Improve Productivity and Engagement
Optimizing employee schedules has become the key to both productivity and workplace engagement. Employees who are rested and focused do their best work in a shorter period of time than those who are burned out with long office hours. It is also true that employees who have some flexibility to attend to personal matters or work during their best focus hours are more productive than those merely clocking in at prescribed times.
By adapting employee schedules to the unique needs and capabilities of your team, you can get the best work rather than the most hours from each business unit.
Tips for Optimizing Employee Schedules
Balance Predictability and Flexibility
Employees need to know when they will be at work. Changing schedules rapidly is never appreciated, leading to disengagement and resentment. However, the ability to be flexible with employee's best work times and/or personal scheduling needs can lead to greater engagement and loyalty.
Consider Employee's Best Performance Times of Day
Some people are morning people, some work best in the afternoon, and some are night owls. Learn your employee's best working hours and try to build this into their schedule. Permitting hybrid or remote work can also allow employees to find their own best hours, hinging performance on deadlines and collaboration rather than specific desk hours - business model permitting.
The Right Time for Meetings and Collaborations
It's important to know when to call a meeting. Avoid unnecessary meetings that could be a single email, and seek optimal availability times for collaboration or planning meetings in which team members are brought together. This will inspire optimal teamwork results instead of disengagement.
When Remote and Hybrid is More Productive
Not all jobs need to be done in the office. Some roles - and people - work better under remote conditions. Be flexible and look for opportunities to offer hybrid or remote roles. Estimate their success based on performance, not attendance, and see what happens. Many employees will appreciate the flexibility and put in more work, not less, when allowed to work from home.
Setting Intelligent Deadlines and Checkpoints
Employees rely on realistic deadlines and regular checkpoints to achieve optimal productivity. Deadlines that are too far out lead to procrastination, while deadlines that are too short lead to stress, burnout, and disengagement due to unrealistic expectations.
Timely Breaks to Regenerate Focus
Breaks are important. Humans function in focus blocks. This means that long, uninterrupted work sessions become less productive after a certain amount of time, which varies from person to person. Short breaks to grab a coffee or walk a lap around the office can be conducive to productivity. Both mandated breaks and occasional refocus breaks are essential. Encourage them and provide spaces where employees can mentally refresh without further distractions, like green spaces and window-side seating areas.
Assuring A Healthy Work-Life Balance
Monitor work schedule to ensure no one is working an unhealthy schedule for too long. A few overtime hours during crunch time may be acceptable, but a routine of long hours and short breaks is not mentally sustainable. Prevent burnout by promoting healthy work-life balance. Discourage off-hours requests from managers and coworkers, and ensure your employees are taking their time off to relax and refresh.
Approving Leave as a Balancing Act
Lastly, when leave is requested, look for ways to balance missing people and necessary workloads. Advise your employees when workloads may be light and teams will not be disadvantaged if one or two people are out, and when leave is less likely to be approved to protect the wellness of the entire team. It's important to approve leave when it matters, but also avoid leaving your team short-staffed at the wrong time.
Scheduling Software & How it Benefits Employees & Employers
Keeping all these techniques in mind can become a labyrinth of scheduling if managers try it by hand. However, scheduling software makes it easier to keep track of individual and team schedules with dashboards and visualization to quickly show whether balance is being achieved. Scheduling software can ensure everyone is getting their breaks, provide alerts for those approaching a burnout schedule, and help balance leave approvals with predicted workloads.