Recently, I had a opportunity to interview, Chad Halvorson. He is the CEO of When I Work, an employee scheduling app that nearly half a million people in over 50 countries rely on for employee scheduling, time clock, and communication. Here is the Q&A:

Q: To minimize absences and conflicts, how far in advance is best to schedule? Weekly, Fortnightly, and Monthly?

As far as the cadence of how you schedule, it depends on your business because your needs are going to change from week to week or from month to month. I think what it comes to is communication—how well you communicate the schedule information to your employees. Whether you’re doing it weekly or bi-weekly or monthly, you never want to wait until the last minute to get the schedule out there because it isn’t going to be able to be consumed by your team quickly enough. Communication is key. You can use different tools to help you improve communication—email, texting, an app, etc. It all comes back to how well you can communicate the information and how easy are you making it for your employees to communicate their availability back to you.

 How should scheduling during holiday time be handled differently than normal?

I think you might handle it differently because your needs might change very drastically based on demand and seasonality—but again, I think it comes back to communication. You may be calling more people on shift or you might be sending people off shift, and communicating that effectively and with enough lead time is going to be better for employee retention and just better for your team overall.

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What are some good ways of dealing with the issue of fairness in scheduling (some employees working too many late night shifts or weekends?

 If you can do a good job of tracking what people’s preferences are—if you can keep a good pulse on the people that like working weekends or like working evenings—then you can help with fairness and probably do a better job at simply considering preferences and paying closer attention to trends. There are a lot of tools out there that can help make this possible.

How has Obamacare changed scheduling? 

The biggest place that it has affected is that there are laws now that require businesses to pay health benefits if an employee works a certain amount of hours in a week. It doesn’t matter if they work full or part-time. If someone works a whole lot of extra hours for a month or so, that pushes them into a tier that qualifies them for health benefits. (More detailed explanation) There are a lot of employers that pay close attention to that. They’re not anticipating to pay health benefits for certain roles so they end up scheduling employees under a certain threshold. It works similar to overtime but it’s a little different because it’s an average. It’s not just on a pay period basis. It’s more of a tracking over the quarter or the year.

Which is more common (by major industries) fixed shifts or rotating shifts)?

I would say that in the the service industry that it’s for sure rotating shifts. Food, service, hospitality, grocery even retail stores all use rotating shifts. Support centers and call centers have more fixed shifts.

employee-scheduling-app-for-iphone-or-android-with-online-schedule-maker-for-mobileCan you talk about how mobile phones are now part of scheduling process?

Mobile phones are the key ingredient to any business with hourly employees. The mobile phone does a number of things to help with the scheduling process. Everything from key communication whether it’s the manager that is sending a text to the employees or whether they’re using a tool that will send a text to all of the employees that will give them their schedule. Businesses can use smart phones and use an app to communicate with their employees or lets them blast out the schedule or communicate changes on the fly when they change. Mobile phones help on the employee side so that they have a pulse on the schedule and they can get their schedule by an email on their smartphone or a text message or on an app to see their schedule. Employees can also use smartphones to input their information to provide their availability and the information that is going to help the employee and business more successful.

Read more: Best Scheduling Apps