It’s January, so in the world of parks and recreation, we are already late to be thinking about 2018 summer operations. Nevertheless, here I am to present some a few tips about scheduling software for parks and recreation professionals.
How do you currently schedule your employees?
Let me know in the comments!
For some of you, I’ll be honest - online employee scheduling might not be necessary. I’m a fan of the phrase, “don’t fix what isn’t broken,” even when it comes to innovation. If you have a small team, or only one location, you may not need a mobile app or an automatic scheduler. In these cases, a handwritten schedule would probably serve you just fine. But for those of you that are managing multiple locations or part-time employees with various schedules, you’ll want a schedule that you can pull up on your phone, one that has all your contact information in one place, and one that will help you find the best schedule for everyone.
To give you some background, I managed one of three recreation centers in our department. We had about 15 standard part-time employees, and another 10 cashiers. We shared employees in between the three recreation centers.
Once a quarter, I would get together with my two other coordinators and make a schedule. We would use the old schedules as a template, write with pencil over the old ones, and then type them into excel.
The whole process took us multiple meetings…multiple hours a day… and we ended up making many changes after we sent them out. It was a tedious and time consuming process. We often could not meet our proposed schedule deadline and ended up letting down our staff.
Our employees deserved better. They needed to know their schedule so that they could plan out their lives. Having a good work life balance is essential, and our job as managers is to make that happen.
As staff voiced their frustrations, and my fellow coworkers spent more and more time on our excel schedules, we knew we needed to do something.
We made the switch to have ALL of our employee contact information in ONE place that we could access anywhere, even on the go. We had ALL of the schedules for ALL of the centers in ONE app on our phone. We could see exactly who should working at which center and who should be on later today. We could find out who swapped shifts and approve them if we wanted. Best of all, our staff could see it all too.
How To Prepare Your Team for a Switch:
Quick tips before getting committing:
- In order to make the trial period successful, I recommend putting all of your employee information into an excel spreadsheet with each row being first name, last name, address, email, etc. This will allow you to import your contacts into the software easily.
- Get your whole team on board. Allow them to be a part of the decision making process. Tell your employees to expect a change and WHY you are making the change.
- Once you've done your research, and have decided on the software you'll be using, have a specific training that walks your employees through the process of the new tool. Talk about expectations, policies, and concerns they may have.
An Overview of WhenToWork:
Link to WhenToWork - My purpose in sharing this affiliate link is so that more parks and recreation professionals have tools to take their organization and team to the next level. I receive a small amount if you decide to commit to WhenToWork. Any amount that I make on this site goes back into the site for hosting fees so that I can continue working on this site.
WhenToWork offers a complex set of tools that will help you better manage recreation operations. They have an excellent set of video tutorials to get you and your employees started on the program, but be prepared to invest time in understanding the interface. Their FAQ should help you through most of your questions (note that they do not have a contact phone number, like WheniWork to talk to a real person).
If you have all of your employees in an excel spreadsheet, then importing them is easy. Their mobile app is awesome. The pricing is based on how many employees you are managing.
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This type of pricing works well for most organizations. If you have multiple departments that are considering the switch (like aquatics and front desk) I would recommend actually getting separate accounts. One problem that we ran into was that you must start a schedule on the same date. Let's say that your aquatics department starts a new schedule every month, but your front desk staff starts every quarter, you'll run into some issues. Keep that in mind when you start to count up your employees. Keep them separate if you want to keep it simple.
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When you first login, this is the view you will have as a manager. You can customize the "What's New" section in the top right section, but that's about it. The design/user interface isn't very modern, but it works! There are many ways for how to view your schedules, so you'll have to find what works best for you. The employees section was my favorite - to have everyone's information in one place. The Urgent Text Alert also helped for those last-minute situations where we needed someone quickly but didn't want to text everyone individually.
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Part of your job as a recreation professional is justifying your operational costs. The ability to estimate payroll, analyze shifts for conflicts, see a summary of time-off, etc is invaluable. This kind of information would take hours to calculate from an excel sheet. When the ACA rules came into play, we found out just how important it was to have detailed records of the hours our employees worked.
I love the features of reporting through WhentoWork. They also have a growing list of compatible software that may help you, such as payroll software (Kronos, PayCom, Tylers Munis, Paychoice, etc) and other tools.
There are other programs that I found for employee scheduling. Have you tried any of these out? Would you like to see a review of these programs? Let me know in the comments!
Google Calendar (video info here)