Work Time Management··5 min read

7 Often Forgotten Questions Before Changing Employee Schedules

7 Simple (& Often Forgotten) Questions To Ask Before Changing Employee Schedules

When company restructuring affects available working hours, you need to review how your staff is organized. This may require changes to employee schedules. Changing working hours can be a tricky task. Often, employees choose a specific schedule that permits them to tend to their duties outside of work and so, a transition with employee scheduling can be a tough change.

However, as with anything, proper planning and risk mitigation positions you to implement a smooth transition. Change is difficult for anybody in any setting and can be an especially touchy subject when it comes to an employee’s livelihood. So, if you’re not sure how to tell your employee of hours change, you’ve come to the right place. When you ask yourself the following seven questions, you can prepare for a surprisingly seamless restructuring that benefits the company and considers your loyal employees.

What does your organization absolutely require?

Determining what the company’s bottom line is should be priority. Executing any schedule changes and rearranging employee hours has a rippling effect that moves into employee lifestyles, including their home life responsibilities. To ensure employee retention during a shift concerning schedules, whittle down company changes to the bare minimum required to keep operations moving and employees in an understanding space.

Are your employees exempt or are they non-exempt?

If your employees are exempt, you have the freedom to increase their hours while keeping them at the same salary. However, if your employees are non-exempt, you are required to pay them hourly and in addition, pay overtime hours as directed by the department of labor in their state. For some states, that’s any time worked over eight hours and for most other states, it’s any time worked over 40 hours in a week. If you have a mixed set of employees, be sure to first classify them before implementing any changes.

What are your employees asking for?

The preparation and planning stages require you complete your due diligence, and that includes asking for feedback from your employees. The changes you want to implement may just be in line with several of your key team members — but you won’t know this unless you ask.

For instance, if person A is willing to work longer hours for an extra weekend day off and person B is willing to work over the weekend, you could have a win-win situation. This is the kind of shift changing that has the potential to benefit all involved. When you ask and consider their feedback, you’re creating a collaborative decision that keeps your employees from feeling blindsided and resenting the changes.

What to do if you require an increase in hours?

Consider the impact of asking exempt employees to work more for the same pay and determine if it’s a risk you’re willing to take. Employees may experience demoralization and loss of motivation when asked to work more for the same pay and that can result in more mistakes, less efficiency, and an overall downturn in employee morale. Consider if other incentives may make the change more palatable. Whether monetary or time-based, these incentives can soften the blow employees may feel when they’re instructed to work longer hours.

If you’re not sure how to compensate your employees with incentives and raising salaries is out of the question, just ask them. They may ask for something so simple, you’ll wonder how you missed it. Each person values different things and you won’t know unless you ask directly.

What to do if you require a decrease in hours?

If your company is facing financial difficulties and you’ve cut costs in all other areas, you may need to move into decreasing employee hours. This is never an easy decision, but it is a much softer choice than moving forward with employee lay-offs.

When you cut hours across the board, employees feel like they’re in it together, instead of feeling like certain employees have been cherry-picked. Keeping good morale during a difficult phase like decreasing hours is important and will reflect on your company culture for years to come.

Be honest with employees and as transparent as possible regarding the reason(s) why there is a need for a reduction in hours. Employees don’t like being left in the dark and when they realize it’s for the company’s health, they may be more inclined to accept the transition in stride.

Are you being clear as day when communicating with employees?

Any big change requires you communicate with your workforce openly and effectively. Each person lives in their own world and they count on their employment schedules and salaries to bring stability into their respective lives. Employees need to feel like you’re making decisions with them, not for them.

Transitions regarding schedule changes and pay changes are never easy, but they can be handled masterfully if you take the time to listen to your employees’ concerns and address their questions with an open-door policy. You may wish to send out regular updates as the transition moves underway and hold meetings to answer employee questions and assuage concerns.

This prevents rumors from forming and allows you to display the kind of leadership that made them loyal employees to begin with.

Have you advised employees the changes are permanent?

If changes are temporary, you may find employees get on board faster. They may be thinking they’d just like to get it over with and return to the schedule and pay they’ve become accustomed to. But if the changes are permanent, you need to be crystal clear with your employees that the new schedule and pay are a new way of life with the company. Don’t lead with false hope; give it to them straight so they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

When you change employee hours following the tips outlined above, you may find yourself having a smoother transition than you initially imagined. And — you’ll be better respected for handling a difficult situation with expertise and integrity.

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