How Does This Functionality Help You?

  • Scheduling settings define global constraints used by the system when building schedules. These settings are applied across all employees, stations, and shifts.
  • Modifying these settings produces different schedules because employee assignments are based on the settings you choose.


Schedules Section: Setup > Scheduling Settings


Scheduling Settings
  1. Open the Setup Folder.
  2. Select the Scheduling Settings link.
  3. Change settings. Select Save.

    Note: These settings should be set prior to filling a schedule.


1) Global Constraints

a) 1 & 2 Week Maximum Values

  • These limits apply to all employees and are strictly enforced when using Auto Fill.
  • You can override these limits when manually scheduling, in both templates and schedules. The system does not undo manually assigned shifts.

The system assigns employees to shifts that fall anywhere within their available times. It is often desirable to have employees that are available 24 x 7, even though they cannot work more than 12 hours per day. Likewise, you may have employees available all day, but if scheduled to more than one shift within a day, the gap between shifts is relatively small. Our "split shift gap range” addresses these issues.


b) Split-shift gap range

Some organizations schedule employees to multiple shifts per day. If an employee's availability is very open, the possibility exists of them being assigned to shifts many hours apart. This may be impractical due to employee travel times and other constraints. The maximum gap setting addresses this issue by limiting the elapsed hours between shifts within each day. For instance, a maximum gap of one hour would allow an employee to work these two shifts: 9am-10am, 11am-1pm, but not these: 8am-10am, 1pm-3pm.

  • Minimum Split Shift Gap is the minimum number of hours to enforce between split shifts within a day.
  • Maximum Split Shift Gap is the maximum number of hours allowed between shifts within a day for an employee.

To enforce back-to-back shifts: Set min = 0 and max = 0. 

  • Back to back shifts will be determined by the first shift that an employee is assigned to in each day, which is determined by Auto Fill in using all parameters together. 

c) Downtime between days

This setting specifies the minimum time, in hours, that must exist between consecutive shifts for each employee. In 24-hour operations, this setting prevents back-to-back shifts on consecutive days. For instance, suppose an employee has a 6pm-6am shift on Monday. If the minimum downtime is zero, then that employee is available for 6am shifts on Tuesday. This might cause the employee to be scheduled 24 hours straight. Entering a minimum downtime value of 12 hours would ensure that each employee get at least 12 hours off between shifts. The following describes Downtime between days.

  • It is the minimum number of hours that should separate shifts between consecutive days for an employee.
  • This setting may be used to prohibit back-to-back shifts on consecutive days.
  • Very useful for 24-hour operations.

2) Process Constraints

a) Load Balancing Steps

The scheduling system's primary goal is to fill all empty shifts. A secondary goal is to use the highest skilled employees whenever possible. These two goals together, without other constraints, will not balance the workload across all employees, but rather assign as much as possible to the highest skilled workers.

The hour’s limits are used to counter this result and balance the workload across all available employees.

  • 1st Hours Limit is the maximum number of hours that will be distributed to employees on the first pass through the scheduling algorithm. Set low to give everyone some hours. Set high to fill the schedule with most skilled employees.
  • 2nd Hours Limit is the maximum number of hours that will be distributed to each employee on the second pass through the scheduling algorithm.
  • Final Hours Limit is the limit set for the last pass through the scheduling algorithm. It should be set higher than any individual employee hour limit. The system will use the lesser of the individual max hours per week limit and the final hours limit.

b) Randomization

The scheduling system assigns employees through a consistent and repeatable process. The primary factor for determining "who works where" in this process is skill level. Given the same template week after week, the consistency of the process will necessarily produce identical schedules. Randomization is used to counter this consistency by introducing randomness into the employee skill level values.

 

  • Low Randomization will alter employee skills or station rankings (shifts) plus or minus a random value that is between 0 and .5, from their current setting. The result is randomization across employees that have the same skill level, while preserving the hierarchy created by the original skill settings. For example, assume three employees have skills at the same station of 7, 5, and 5. Using Low randomization, these skills may be changed to 7.2, 5.1, and 4.8. The same applies to station rankings (shifts). 
  
  • High randomization creates completely random skill levels for all employees or station rankings (shifts). The only thing preserved from the original setting is the link between the employee and the station. In other words, employees will only get a random skill level at stations for which they have a regularly assigned skill level. High randomization will produce schedules for which "who is working where" is randomized, while all other constraints are honored. For example an employee with a skill of 9 could be given a random skill of 1-8. Likewise a station with a rank of 1 could be given a random rank of 2-9. 


Skill Randomization: Refers to employee skill levels (priority).

  • Will vary employee skills slightly (Low) or entirely (High) for the week.
  • Randomization helps change employee/station assignments week-to-week.
  • By /Day – Randomization will be done separately for each of the week in the schedule. Thus employees will have different random skill levels for each day before assignments to shifts are made.
  • By /Schedule – Randomization occurs one time for the entire schedule. Thus employees will have the same random skill for each day of the week before assignments to shifts are made.

 

Shift Randomization: Refers to Station Rank levels (priority)

  • Will vary the station/day rankings slightly (Low) or entirely (High) before scheduling.
  • Randomization helps change the days and times employees work both week-to-week and day-to-day.

c) Shift Priorities

Most of the scheduling settings involve the priority of an employee working a given shift. However, the system can also rank the importance of filling shifts by shift length or coverage. Shift priorities allow you to specify the weight given to various factors that are considered when the system fills shifts.

 

The settings represent relative priorities/ranks (9 is highest) for three scheduling goals.

  • Rankings: Assigning shifts by the employee skill priority level, station priority and day ranks. These values specify the importance of filling shifts based on these three ranks. Give rankings a high weight if you have entered various ranks and want to push empty shifts to lower ranking employees, days or stations. Set this highest if skills (priority) given to employees is most important in filling the schedule.

  • Length: Assigning longer shifts (by hours) before shorter shifts. If employee availability is limited and shift lengths vary greatly, it is possible for the shorter shifts to eliminate employee available times that could have been used to work a longer shift. From a coverage standpoint, it might also be desirable to ensure that empty shifts contain the fewest hours. Giving ‘Longer Shifts’ a high priority will address these issues.

  • Coverage: Assigning shifts with fewest skilled employees. This setting checks the actual number of employees available for each shift and gives shifts with fewer available employees a higher priority. It is possible for employee availability to be particularly lean for a few shifts. Rather than trying to figure out the days and stations to rank higher, giving priority to lower coverage shifts will ensure that these shifts are filled.


Example

A company schedules workers to two-, four-, and eight-hour shifts. Employees can work multiple shifts in one day, if available. The business is open 10 hours per day. Most employees share the same skills, and the scheduler would like station assignments to change regularly. In addition, roughly half of the employees are part-time and have scattered availability. The two- and four-hour shifts are filled primarily by part-time employees. Here's how they set up their scheduling settings. (See window example below.)

 

1) Time Limits: Weekly employee hours range from 8 to 30 hours per week. Ideally, the workload would be shared equally, but limited availability keeps some employees from working more. The hours limits of 12 and 20 seek to spread the load equally for up to 20 hours per employee.

 

2) Randomization: A low randomization value ensures that equally skilled employees will be assigned to a variety of stations. The scheduler still has the capability, however, to assign a high skill level to a few employee/stations to force their coverage of those stations.

 

3) Time between Shifts: The library is only open 10 hours per day, so employees are guaranteed ample downtime each day. Within a day, however, it’s possible to work multiple shifts. The staff found it acceptable for up to one hour off between shifts, so the maximum gap is set to one hour.

 

4) Shift Priorities: To ensure that the 2-hour shifts do not break up employee availability (and render them unavailable for an 8-hour shift), longer shifts are given the highest priority. Since half of the employees have limited availability, the lower coverage shifts are given the second highest priority. Each day and station has the same rank, so shift rankings are given the least priority.

  

Example Schedule Settings: