Creating Your Work Schedule
Once, I brought my youngest boy to work for a few hours while I finished the lab work schedule. This involved reviewing time off, approving pending vacations, assigning missing shifts, moving people here and there, and double checking everything. He waited patiently, not all that interested.
Finally, he said, “People take too much time off.” And I didn’t think he was paying attention!
Scheduling employees is a math problem. A lab needs 4.2 FTE (full time equivalents) to staff one person 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Shifts can be five eights, four tens, two twelves and two eights, and so on. Budget, hire, and fill in the blanks, right?
Except my son is correct -- people take too much time off. They also swap weekends, shifts, and schedule appointments during a work day. They call in sick, have child care issues, and some days come to work when they should have stayed home for any number of reasons. They come in late, ask to leave early, look to see who they are working with before they call in sick, ask for the same weeks off every summer, complain about working too many evenings, complain that a coworker got one extra shift or one fewer shift, complain about holidays, and sometimes don’t show up because they didn’t make a copy of the schedule. The size and appetite of the beast varies.
Your work schedule’s success is a barometer of teamwork. How well people accept it and how little they use it to punish management and each other reflects the trust essential to working together as a team. It all begins with getting people at work on time, willing to work. Management can always try “do it or else,” but pressure is often released elsewhere. People take scheduling decisions personally, because a work schedule is personal.
Since every team is different, every work schedule is different. I’m interested in hearing how you solve this in your lab -- good, bad, and lucky.