“Are you available tomorrow?” is a question often asked by shift supervisors trying to make changes to the weekly schedules of their employees. Gathering your employees’ availability schedules can be repetitive and time-consuming, especially if updates are required on a monthly (or worse, weekly) basis. Is there a way to simplify this process? One option is an employee availability form!
Why do you need an employee availability form?
When building your shift-workers’ schedules, you need to be fully aware of their availability. Each time you mistakenly place your worker on a shift that they are not available to work, the costs are significant. Your staff may either begrudgingly accept this shift assignment, resulting in a highly dissatisfied worker—and most probably leading to their eventual resignation. Or, they may not be aware of their shift and just not show up. Being short-staffed affects your employees’ morale, your business’ reputation, and most definitely, your bottom line.
Employee availability works in unison with scheduling. As a manager or a business owner, you deal with managing employee availability every single day. With a shift-based workforce, the weekly schedule is never set—and is subject to change daily. To ensure that your operations run smoothly, knowing when your employees are available to switch or pick up extra shifts is extremely valuable. Hyre offers employee scheduling software that factors in the complexities of shift work. We know that the more accurate and informative your employee availability inputs are, the more comprehensive your schedule will be.
You’re probably asking yourself: How do I create a comprehensive employee availability form that will make scheduling my employees a bit easier?
As always, we’re here to help! We’ve created a free employee availability template that you can try out for yourself. Read on to learn what makes a perfect employee availability form.
1. Start with employee details
The first element of any availability form should indicate general information about the employee. Include your employee’s name, current position, and department. After that, identify their type of employment, such as full-time, part-time, or other.
We recommend having a checkbox to identify whether the form has been submitted for the first time, or if it’s been submitted to change that staff’s availability. This will help you keep track of your employees’ documents.
2. Create a table for different types of availability
Employee availability often needs ample context for everyone to be on the same page. To create a comprehensive employee availability form, you can give your employees different availability scheduling options—for example: preferred, on-call, and unavailable.
‘Preferred’ signifies that the employee is hoping to be scheduled during that time; ‘on-call’ signifies that although the employee isn’t technically on a shift, they can be scheduled if needed; and, ‘unavailable’ signifies that an employee is unable to work during that time slot. The table below is an example of an availability table.
3. Include space for comments or notes
There should always be an area designated for notes, adjustments, and general comments in the employee availability form.
Your employees might have a reason for their preferred shift choices or need to request a specific change. A comment/note section will also make it easier for you to make fair decisions when assigning shifts.
4. Sign the form
At the bottom of the page, make sure to leave some space for signatures and dates. Both employees and managers should sign and date the form. This formality is necessary when approving employee requests. That way, employees and managers get into the habit of formally requesting schedule changes, making scheduling much more manageable overall.
5. Distribute the forms to your employees
Distribute the availability form to each employee to fill out (either digitally or physically). We recommend setting some rules or limitations regarding employee availability forms to avoid unnecessary changes in the schedule. For example, let your employees know that the original form can be changed only a certain number of times, or only if absolutely necessary.
After completing the final step, you’re partially done! Why only partially? Because employee availability management is an ongoing task. It can get even trickier to manage the requests and preferences of multiple employees (even scheduling a staff of 5 can get cumbersome). To make sure you stay on top of all requests, keep track of this information in a spreadsheet or better yet, a friendly scheduling tool.
Although helpful, spreadsheets and printed request forms are not optimal for managing employee availability. They are prone to errors and are time-consuming. Time is money and most shift managers spend over 10 hours a week building and tweaking staff schedules. That’s over $1,000/month—just on scheduling! If you’re looking for an alternative, consider more advanced and smart solutions. Hyre’s employee scheduling tool has an availability calendar where employees can update their availability in realtime, meaning shift managers get to-the-minute updates on their team’s schedules. If you’re ready to upgrade your employee availability management process and save hours each week while doing it, try out our all-encompassing employee scheduling software.
Share your suggestions for a perfect employee availability form in the comments below!
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