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Handling schedules with people with limited availability

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For managers it can sometimes be a tough job being in charge of making schedules. Although, for some businesses where everyone works a set schedule it usually is a lot easier. When you hire someone there are certain times that you need them to work, but not everyone has open availability.

So how do you work out a schedule for someone with limited availability? It starts by knowing the reasons that they are not available. There are many things that could contribute to an employee not being able to work such as: another job, religious reasons, going to school or even a medical condition.

If it is another job, then you just schedule them when they are not working their other job, make sure they are getting the hours they need and also working when you need them there. If it is religious reasons, be respectful and work around their beliefs. This can be challenging, but you can get in big trouble for religious discrimination. Some medical conditions that might cause limited availability might be night blindness, meaning they can only work if they are getting off before dark or maybe a physical condition limits the number of hours they can work each day.

It can be tough, but if you can work with employees tight schedules now, then when they open up you will have a satisfied employee that is willing to help you out. When you are hiring you should always ask for their availability. If it is limited then during hiring would be a great time to find out why and how long it is going to be like this. For some it will be temporary and for others it is permanent.

When you are writing the weekly schedule you should have everyone's availability in front of you so that you can double check that they can work when you need them. With limited availability it is a good idea to give them a set schedule if at all possible, that way if they are working somewhere else or going to school then they know what to plan for.

If you have many employees with limited schedules, which is likely if you are in a college town, then it would be wise to plan your schedules out many weeks in advance. This gives everyone a chance to see what you have planned and also gives them time to make arrangements to cover a shift if they have something they need to do.

It is also a good idea to take volunteers for shifts. Maybe you have a late shift that no one likes, but it gives someone with limited availability more hours. Post a sheet by the time clock or by the schedule lists and see who will be able to work when. If you do this in advance then they can know what to plan for and so will you.

If you get in a bind, then go to your limited availability employees and see if they can make any exceptions. They might be free or be able to change their schedule around temporarily to help you out. This should not be a regular occurrence, but occasionally they should be able to help you out.

Working around schedules can be a challenge, but if you can plan ahead then you will find that your employees are good about making sure that they are doing their best in the time they are with you. Help them to do their best work for you by accommodating them the best that you can.

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Posted by DF
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