Shift bidding – the art of team scheduling without micromanagement

What is shift bidding?

Shift bidding is a process where employees can announce their interest in work shifts that they are able to take. Then management assigns shifts based on those preferences. It’s typically used in jobs with varying shifts, like retail or healthcare. Shift bidding aims to provide employees with more control over their schedules while ensuring operational needs are met.

Sometimes workforce automation allocates the shifts to qualified employees based on factors like seniority, skill levels, and fairness. Sometimes management prefers to choose the best bids manually to maintain control.

Benefits of shift bidding

Shift bidding cultivates a sense of empowerment and autonomy. This empowerment translates into better work life balance and a more engaged workforce that feels valued and respected, contributing positively to the overall company culture.

It can also have a ripple effect on productivity and job performance. When individuals can align their work hours with their peak energy and focus, their contributions tend to be more effective.

Shift bidding schedule systems can benefit both full time and on-demand teams alike.

Shift bidding and shift swapping – what’s the difference

Shift bidding and shift swapping are interconnected aspects of workplace scheduling. Shift bidding sets the initial schedule. When unforeseen events or personal requirements arise after the schedule is set, shift swapping comes into play. Employees can coordinate amongst themselves to trade shifts, ensuring that operational needs are still met while offering employees the flexibility to make short-term adjustments.

Who can benefit from shift bidding?

Shift bidding can be particularly advantageous for teams with variable work schedules, or where flexibility in shifts is important. Here are some examples :

In the retail sector shifts often vary based on customer demand. Shift bidding allows employees to express their preferences for shifts and bid on those that align with their availability.

The staffing demands for hotels, restaurants, and event venues fluctuate with seasonality. A shift bidding system can empower employees to choose shifts that work well for them while ensuring adequate staffing during busy times.

Hospitals and clinics need round-the-clock coverage. Shift bidding gives healthcare professionals the flexibility to manage their work-life balance by expressing which shifts suit their needs.

Call Centers:
Call centers often operate during extended hours. Shift bidding lets employees choose shifts that match their productivity peaks, leading to more effective customer service.

Manufacturing and Production:
Factories and production facilities require continuous operation. Shift bidding can help balance their workload while giving employees control over their schedules.

Airlines, public transportation, and shipping companies operate around the clock. Shift bidding ensures the availability of crew members and drivers while offering them flexibility.

Warehouses often have varied shipment schedules. Shift bidding assists in optimizing staff allocation and enables workers to manage their hours effectively.

Security personnel are needed for various shifts at different hours to ensure safety. A shift bidding schedule system enables security teams to manage their schedules while maintaining site coverage.

Event management teams – especially during festivals, conferences, or exhibitions – require flexible scheduling varying shift patterns. Shift bidding allows team members to choose shifts based on their roles and particular shift preferences.

How does shift bidding work?

Let’s consider an example of a shift bidding process.

1: Announcement The company announces the next month’s schedule will be open for a bidding period. The announcement includes the timeline for submitting preferences, and the criteria that will be considered, such as seniority and availability.

2: Preferences Submission Employees log into the company’s shift bidding and scheduling software and submit their preferred shifts for the upcoming month. Sarah, a senior employee, prefers morning shifts because of her transportation options. John, a part-timer, selects evening shifts to fit his class schedule.

3: Evaluation The scheduling manager reviews the preferences alongside factors like seniority and operational requirements. Morning shifts are critical during weekends due to higher customer traffic, so priority is given to experienced employees.

4: Assignment Based on the evaluation, Sarah is assigned morning shifts on weekends. John receives evening shifts on weekdays to accommodate his classes and part-time status.

5: Communication Sarah receives a notification that she has been assigned her preferred morning shifts, while John is informed of the final schedule with his evening shifts.

6: Appeals or Adjustments Another employee, Lisa, who was assigned morning shifts but has unexpected family commitments, appeals for an adjustment in work schedule. The scheduling manager reviews her case and assigns her to afternoon shifts instead.

7: Confirmation Sarah, John, and Lisa confirm their acceptance of the assigned shifts to finalize the schedule.

8: Shift Swapping As the month progresses, Sarah and John decide to swap a few shifts to accommodate personal events. They coordinate through the same scheduling system and software and inform the manager once the shift swap is agreed upon.

9: Ongoing Monitoring Throughout the month, the scheduling manager monitors the schedule’s effectiveness and gathers feedback from employees to make improvements for the next bid cycle.

How on-demand teams perform shift bidding

Also on-demand teams often use technology platforms or software to facilitate shift bidding. Here’s how the process typically works:

  1. Platform Setup: The company uses an online scheduling platform designed for on-demand work. This platform allows employees to view available shifts, submit preferences, and interact with the scheduling process.
  2. Shift Availability: Management inputs available shifts onto the platform. These shifts could be generated based on predicted demand, historical data, or other factors.
  3. Employee Notifications: Employees receive notifications about the availability of shifts and the upcoming bidding process.
  4. Preferences Submission: Using the platform, employees log in and submit their preferred shifts. They might also indicate their skills or qualifications for certain shifts.
  5. Shift Assignments: Shifts are assigned to employees. This can be done manually by managers, or automatically by workforce automation algorithms.
  6. Notifications: Employees receive notifications about their assigned shifts. They can review and confirm these shifts.
  7. Swapping and Adjustments: The platform might allow employees to trade shifts with colleagues or request adjustments, considering real-time changes in availability or personal circumstances.
  8. Finalization: Once the shift assignments are confirmed, the schedule becomes final, and employees are expected to honor their commitments.
  9. Feedback and Iteration: The platform might offer options for employees to provide feedback on the process, allowing the company to refine the system for future bidding cycles.

How we can help

Zelos Team Management is a very simple app for on-demand teams. The core features include a convenient shift-bidding engine, along with many other useful functions for team management.

Sign up for a free account to try it out, or get in touch with our team for a personal demo.