Three terrible employee scheduling practices that kill employee engagement

What not to do if you want engaged employees.

Employee engagement is a buzzword in the business world right now. These terms are often misunderstood and their meanings get convoluted. Most businesses seem to think employee engagement is important. That’s one thing that’s clearly agreed upon.

What is employee engagement?

Before we dive into a few ways that employee engagement is often cut off at the knees through bad scheduling practices, let’s review what employee engagement is exactly.

For the sake of this article, we will be using this working definition:

“Employee engagement is the extent to which people are personally involved in the success of a business.”

So, in short, this can be measured to a certain extent. It looks like employees who are personally involved and invested in the success of the company. And they must know what the success of your business looks like.

In order for your employees to feel personally invested in the work they do for you, it’s important for them to feel like you care about them as a person and they can relate to the goals and mission of your company.

Three ways the employee schedule can kill employee engagement

The way you treat a person’s time can have a dramatic impact on the way they perceive the value you place on them as a person. One of the most overlooked management practices that have an impact on your employee engagement is the employee schedule.

Why is it important? Because it affects your employees every time they clock in. It impacts how they feel their time is being valued.

Let’s look at a few things you can do as a manager to completely kill employee engagement and make sure your employees are not personally invested in their work. (Hint: Don’t do any of these things!)

1. Make it all about the budget (not your people).

Do you feel a strong emotional connection to making as much money as possible as the mission of your company? Great! Your employees will, too. No need to give them anything more than that for a mission.

Find ways to put profits over your people wherever you can. The schedule is a perfect place to start. Treat it as nothing but an operational tool for saving some money. Make sure your employees are not motivated to become personally involved in the success of your business by being careful not to become personally interested in protecting their time and work-life balance in any way. For example, if an employee asks to leave an hour early to catch something that is meaningful to their lives, make sure you let them know it could cut into your ability to make some money, and deny their punitive request with an emotional vacuity of which Darth Vader would be envious.

Learn what motivates your employees outside of work. Make sure the schedule stifles this in any way possible. Learn about their lives, hobbies, relationships and make sure their work schedule does not accommodate these things in any way. Remind them that their work schedule is for work, not to help support these things and provide a better work-life balance. This will make sure your employees don’t feel personally invested to help you at all.

Make every scheduling decision based on what’s best for profits and your people will make decisions at work based on what’s best for them. Show no commitment to your employees as people and their time, and they’ll show no commitment to you. Sounds great, right?

2. Try to control everything.

Now, that your employees know you don’t care about their life outside of work, it’s time to increase your micromanagement. What’s one of the best ways to show your employees you do not trust them enough to make decisions for themselves? Micromanagement. It’s one of the biggest killers of employee engagement.

Micromanagement is a great tactic for killing employee engagement with your employee schedule, too. Try to control everything related to the schedule. Do your employees want to change their availability? Better make sure it goes through you. Do they want to swap a shift with another employee? Not without your stamp of approval. Do they want to drop a shift? Pick-up an open shift? Do they want to access the next schedule? Only when you say so. Heck, better make sure you dictate how they access it, when they access it, and everything else, too.

A great way to make sure your employees hate everything about their schedule is to make sure they’re not involved in anything related to it. Control everything. After all, you’re the only one that could possibly create a good schedule, right?

3. Don’t ask for or listen to feedback.

After you make sure you’re the only one involved in creating the schedule, planning it and controlling it, make sure you don’t ask your employees how they feel about it. Employees love when they don’t feel like what they think matters, especially related to their time. Work is their entire life. It’s not like they have anything else going on outside of work, really.

After each completed schedule, make sure any feedback your employees might have is met with a cold, closed door. It doesn’t matter how they felt about it. It’s the schedule that worked best for you and your business. People love to be in conversations where they don’t get to say anything. Make sure this is how your scheduling process feels.

Don’t be that manager

By now, you’re probably sick of hearing terrible ideas. These are not great scheduling practices. Please, for the sake of your business and the good people that work for you, don’t fall prey to these scheduling blunders. Do the opposite (I’m not being sarcastic this time). Time is the most valuable resource we all have to give and receive. The employee schedule can be a powerful way to show your employees the value of time and that you care about their time. This will have a huge impact on their level of engagement while working for you. Make sure you and your employees are happier.

Put more value on time. The best way to do this is by improving the way you approach your scheduling process and your attitude toward it.

Spencer Rule is Head of Growth at, based in Boise, Idaho, in the US. ZoomShift provides scheduling and time tracking software to teams that treasure time, invest in their people, value simplicity, and foster communication.

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This article appeared in the March 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

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