Optimising Shift Coverage: Proven Tactics For Filling Vacant Shifts

by Tanya March 19, 2024

Whether you run a restaurant, a retail store, or a 24/7 customer service center, effective staffing can be a problem.

Empty shifts not only disrupt workflow but can also impact customer satisfaction and employee morale.

Below, we explore proven tactics for filling vacant shifts, combining traditional strategies with innovative solutions enabled by technology.

Importance of shift coverage

Shift coverage helps with the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of a business.

It’s particularly important for industries that operate 24/7, or have extended hours. These are healthcare, retail, hospitality, and emergency services.

Below are key reasons why optimising shift coverage is crucial:

1. Understaffed shifts lead to higher staff turnover

This leads to burnout and decreases morale. Overworked employees have less job satisfaction, higher turnover rates, and ultimately, increased recruitment costs.

2. Satisfied and properly serviced customers

Understaffing leads to long wait times and poor service.

Poor shift coverage can directly impact revenue generation, as customers may choose to take their business elsewhere if they consistently encounter subpar service.

Proven tactics for filling vacant shifts

1. Use shift coverage software

Shift coverage tools can automate many aspects of the scheduling process, from forecasting staffing needs to facilitating shift swaps among employees. Investing in the right software can save managers time and reduce the stress associated with last-minute scheduling changes. Use tools like ShiftCare, which is a good alternative to Emprevo. This shift software helps you track shifts more effectively.

2. Implement a flexible scheduling system

Your shift system need to be flexible. Ideally, employees can swap shifts or pick up extra shifts voluntarily.

This not only empowers employees by giving them more control over their schedules but also helps managers quickly cover shifts without resorting to mandatory overtime.

3. Use predictive scheduling software

Leveraging predictive analytics technology to predict staffing needs can significantly improve shift coverage. Predictive scheduling tools analyze historical data, such as sales figures, foot traffic, and seasonal trends, to forecast staffing requirements.

This proactive approach allows managers to schedule the right number of staff in advance, reducing the likelihood of last-minute vacancies.

4. Offer incentives for hard-to-fill shifts

Sometimes, certain shifts are consistently harder to fill than others.

Offering incentives such as bonus pay, additional time off, or other perks can make these less desirable shifts more appealing to employees.

Incentives not only motivate staff to fill these shifts but also foster a sense of appreciation and value among the workforce.

5. Develop a pool of on-call workers

This is great for short notice.

These workers are typically part-time or temporary employees who are available to work when needed.

6. Encourage cross-training

Cross-training employees to perform different roles within the organization can greatly enhance flexibility in shift coverage. This means managers have a larger pool of staff to draw from when covering vacancies.

Additionally, employees gain valuable skills and knowledge by diversifying their responsibilities, contributing to professional development and job satisfaction.


To keep employees happy, set up regular feedback sessions about their scheduling preferences and concerns, and strive to accommodate reasonable requests.

Often you’ll see that employee preferences don’t meet operational needs. In this instance, clearly communicate the rationale behind scheduling decisions and operational needs to foster understanding and cooperation among staff members.

By implementing these proven tactics, organisations can improve their ability to fill vacant shifts and enhance operational efficiency. As the workplace continues to evolve, staying adaptable and open to new strategies will be key to mastering the challenges of shift scheduling.

Social Shares

Never miss a post!

Unsubscribe any time


The first Millennial blogger in the UK. Twitter @_luckyattitude

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.