After working with thousands of organizations that run a pool of staff I have noticed a pattern, heavy reliance on shift swaps is a red flag. It means this business has a much bigger problem – likely they have the wrong tech stack and also have procedural issues that will not be solved by shift swaps. If staff are always swapping shifts it means they don’t have a staff scheduling system with a powerful ‘availability request process’, and this creates all sorts of operational problems. A shift swap app alone is a bit like applying a Band-Aid to a broken arm.

Shift swapping creates problems

The problems I have seen when a restaurant or retail organization relies on shift swapping is:

  • Quality of service is sacrificed
  • Wage budgets blow out
  • The manager often has no idea who is going to turn up for the shift
  • Schedules are not finalized until the last minute, creating stress for managers and staff.

The manager feels as if they have lost control because they have no idea what team they will be working with. They have often hand-picked an outstanding team to ensure labor targets are met and wage spending is not excessive, also for best coverage on a busy night, or perhaps because a restaurant critic or mystery shopper is visiting.

Quality of service suffers

Quality of service suffers because the initial planned schedule that took into account skill level and staff mix is messed up by the shift swapping. We’ve also had a customer tell us about a situation where juniors are paired with senior staff for training, and prior to using Zuus Workforce they would ‘swap out’ the trainer shift! Giving staff free reign over when they ‘feel like’ working is a recipe for operational problems.

When shift swapping takes place, wage budgets often suffer. If just twice a week, a staff on $14/hr swaps a 5-hour shift with another staff who is on $16/hr – the impact on the bottom line over 12 months is over $1000. Multiply this by 1000 stores and you’re talking about losing one million dollars!

Constructive use of shift swaps and availability information

It is really important to provide staff with a way to have their needs taken into account. As employers and managers we all strive to provide a working environment that gives our staff a way to achieve a work-life balance, feel cared for and considered. There is a place for a shift swap or fill shift feature, however reliance on it is problematic. Instead, the first step is to provide your staff with an easy to access, simple way to apply for changes to their availability and request time off. Zuus customers don’t rely heavily on shift swapping, when the manager does their schedule they have at their fingertips staff availability – they know who can work and when. By the time the schedule is published, it’s uncommon for staff to swap shifts as their needs have already been taken into account. Of course last minute things come up, and then a method of finding a replacement should be used, such as our fill shift feature.

Brand new Zuus app for staff & managers

My team at Zuus are working hard to bring managers and staff the best of both worlds. With Zuus you get easily accessible and easy to use availability management and a highly functional fill shift feature (which even filters out staff that would go into overtime).

To add to these time-saving features we’re introducing our brand new app. Our latest development will allow smart shift swapping that, without any setup by you, will automatically group staff who can swap shifts. This is based on smart grouping around wages and have same skills. This way quick, effective shift swaps can happen and you can be confident that the swaps won’t affect your labor budgets and that necessary skill combination rules will be fulfilled.

We know you value your staff so we’re giving you a way to help your staff manage their lives ahead of time and find a replacement for those last minute changes, without sacrificing your business goals.

End result

Your manager’s time is freed up and they stay in control. Staff get to balance work and other commitments stress free.