Staffing and scheduling with Sling

Staffing and Scheduling: Differences Managers Need to Know

While staffing and scheduling may sound like the same thing, they’re actually two distinct processes that can have a huge impact on workflow, team performance, and the overall success of business operations.

In this article, we discuss some of the main differences between staffing and scheduling and how to improve both aspects of your business in order to make things run smoother.

Table of contents

Differences between staffing and scheduling

staffing and scheduling

The differences between staffing and scheduling really start to stand out when you examine their definitions side by side.

Staffing: The process of filling positions in an organization with qualified personnel (i.e., finding people with the right skills and experience and hiring them onto your team).

Scheduling: The process of assigning shifts, tasks, and responsibilities to every member of your team so that your business runs smoothly and efficiently at all times.

With those definitions in mind, let’s examine a few more of the differences between staffing and scheduling so you fully understand where they fit within your business model.

Long-term vs. short-term

Staffing: The staffing process is conducted with a long-term view in mind.

It can take a while (i.e., a month or longer) to recruit, interview, hire, and onboard the right people to fill openings within your business.

Because of that, management and Human Resources are often looking well down the road, so to speak, in order to anticipate business needs and have skilled employees on payroll so that there are no gaps in coverage.

Scheduling: The scheduling process is conducted with a short-term view in mind.

Those responsible for assigning work hours often start by focusing on a single shift (of anywhere from two to twelve hours), a single day, or a single week.

Their primary concern is having enough team members with the right skills to fill all the tasks and responsibilities that are required to keep the business running smoothly.

Data-driven vs. people-driven

Woman working on staffing and scheduling

Staffing: The staffing process is data-driven.

Yes, hiring a new addition to the team demands that you take into account skills and experience, but the system as a whole is more dependent on the data and analytics that let you know when it’s time to hire and when it’s time to allow attrition rates to rise.

Scheduling: The scheduling process is people-driven.

Creating work schedules demands that you take into account variables such as:

These “soft” variables are dramatically different from the “hard” data you may use when planning and executing your staffing process.

Wide focus vs. narrow focus

Staffing: The staffing process is best conducted with a wide focus.

Successful staffing takes into account a variety of variables both inside and outside your business, including:

  • External business trends
  • Internal business trends
  • Economic trends
  • Customer preferences
  • Supply chain issues
  • And more

All of these variables can affect the staffing needs of your organization.

Scheduling: The scheduling process is best conducted with a narrow focus.

Ideally, once it’s time to schedule, you don’t want to have to analyze the state of the industry or the economic trends that are on the upswing at that time.

Instead, you want to narrow your focus to putting the right people in the right shifts so that the business can handle the traffic and customer demands of the time period in question.

Restaurant staffing and scheduling example

staffing and scheduling at a restaurant

One of the best ways to understand staffing and scheduling is to examine them through the analogy of restaurant management.

In a restaurant environment:

Staffing is the process of hiring chefs, kitchen help, wait staff, food runners, etc. so that you have enough people on staff with the right experience and skill to cover all open positions and handle both the menu and the customer flow.

Scheduling is the process of determining how many staff members of each role (i.e., chef, waiter, food runner, etc.) are needed throughout the day and assigning them to specific shifts.

In this case, effective staffing and scheduling are crucial for the business to run smoothly.

Ineffective staffing can lead to skill gaps and a lack of overall personnel for the jobs that need to be done, while ineffective scheduling can lead to overworked employees, safety issues, and unhappy customers.

How to improve staffing and scheduling

workers checking their schedule

How to improve staffing

1) Analyze the current state of your business

It can be very difficult to improve something if you don’t have a starting point.

In the case of staffing, take the time to analyze the current state of your business — variables such as current resources, available staff, skills, org chart, and competencies — so you have the data you need to build a solid foundation for moving forward.

2) Build a staffing model

Building an effective staffing model is like setting specific goals for your business.

For example, you might want to have X full-time and Y part-time employees to handle the busy time of the year. Those numbers are your goal.

With that goal in mind, you can then develop a staffing model that will ensure that you have the right number of employees on staff before the busy time of year arrives.

Want more information about creating a staffing model for your business? Check out this article from the Sling blog: How To Build An Effective Staffing Model For Your Business.

3) Figure out what you need to reach your goals

Once you know where you are and where you want to go — the current state of your business and the staffing model respectively — it becomes easier to figure out what you need to do to reach your goals.

Sit down on your own or with other managers and brainstorm ways to move your business from today into the future.

How to improve scheduling

1) Plan shifts with busy times in mind

Look deeper into your business to identify peaks and valleys of activity. Review patterns of activity for days, weeks, months, and even years.

Then, use this information to plan shifts that provide the right number of employees for the activity level you’re likely to experience (based on past numbers).

2) Build shifts around skilled employees

Instead of starting with the first shift on Monday and working your way through to the last shift on Sunday, consider building shifts around skilled employees and then filling in other employees around them.

Schedule one or two of your best employees each shift and then go back through and add other, perhaps less-skilled or experienced employees to those shifts.

Doing so serves two important purposes:

  • It ensures that each shift has at least one strong employee
  • It ensures that you have a core of experience on which other team members can rely

Assigning shifts in this way can help create stability across all shifts.

3) Use software to streamline the process

One of the best ways to improve all aspects of your scheduling is to use software to streamline the process.

Top-of-the-line workforce management software (such as Sling) lets you take advantage of automation that does a lot of the work for you.

For example, you can enter parameters such as employee availability, overtime limits, business budget, sales data, part-time/full-time status, skills, and abilities, and then instruct the system to schedule employees according to those variables.

Such automation can transform an activity that used to take hours into an activity that takes just minutes.

Manage staffing and scheduling with Sling

Manage staffing and scheduling with Sling

Now that you understand staffing and scheduling a bit better, it’s time to put them both into action. In most cases, that involves managing everything from the hiring and firing process to the way you organize and optimize your team and the shifts they work.

The Sling suite of tools can help you simplify and streamline all of that and give your business unprecedented control over the finer and more difficult points of workforce management, including:

Try Sling for free today to see how it can help you take your staffing plan off the paper and make it into a reality.

And, for even more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit today.

This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.

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