While it may sound simple, shift filling isn’t a walk-in-the-park task. For employers, it can be both frustrating and tedious. 

For example, an employee calls just before the start of a shift, saying they can’t report to work. So, from the list, you immediately call down other team members and check if one of them can fill in. Therefore maximising the staff availability.

You then track someone down as a substitute and agree to fill in the shift—only to discover they forget the schedule change and don't show.   Unfortunately, this has numerous pitfalls, such as lowering employees’ morale, productivity, and satisfaction. 

To make amends, consider shifting your gears and adopting an employee shift swap structure for orderly workforce management

In this article, you will learn how to build a more efficient shift swapping protocol for a smoother flow of schedule transition within your organisation. 

About Shift Swapping and Its Functionality 

Shift swapping allows employees to trade their work schedules to fill in for one another during scheduled work periods.   

For example, employee A’s shift is evening on Tuesday, but unforeseen circumstances happen. For a workaround, employee A can trade the Tuesday shift with employee B, who has the same work schedule on Wednesday. Therefore, both employees eventually work a similar number of hours. 

The only difference is that it’ll be on opposing days than initially intended. 

What are the Benefits of an Efficient Shift Swapping Structure? 

Instead of redeveloping an entire work schedule to cater to a time off request, spare yourself from the hassle. You need an efficient shift swapping system that helps you establish repeatable week-over-week work schedules. That way, you can cover all shifts, and payroll is not interrupted. 

Your employees can also request or collaborate to find coverage in case the regular work schedule isn’t feasible in a given week. In addition, there are other key benefits of the shift swapping process. 

  • Autonomy and flexibility for employees

As companies continue to retain and find staff, one thing is sure: nothing beats feeling valued in the workplace. Your employees need a healthy work-life balance and respect for you as their employer.    

More so, having a shift swap policy in place empowers your workers. When given a choice to trade work schedules, they know they are trusted and will work feeling appreciated and acknowledged. Exhibiting this sense of autonomy, employees can quickly adapt their schedules well and handle personal matters without jeopardising their business.

This course of action forms a culture of mutual respect and appreciation that won’t be overlooked by staff. 

  • Minimises risks of non-attenders 

Just like in any industry, no-shows are bound to happen. However, with a shift swapping system in place, this can be mitigated. If employees can't come to work at a scheduled time, they can seek coverage from available co-workers. To them, this puts less stress on their lives and guarantees their colleague will cover them if unforeseen events outside work arise. 


This is the best-case scenario as it keeps your company fully manned, leading to no service disruption if your employee needs to be outside work for urgent matters. 

  • Establishes camaraderie 

Building good comradeship in the workplace is impressive. As employees start to trust their job, they tend to be more enthusiastic and engaged, take fewer sick days off and deal with less stress and pressure. 

Implementing the shift update system establishes a strong sense of trust and reliance among your staff. Whether it’s the eleventh-hour occasional change of plans or an urgent family emergency, employees can support each other in these times with trust as the cornerstone.

source: Sarah Pflug | Burst

Building an Efficient Shift Swap Structure 

You’ve created a working schedule that handles a week’s worth of tasks only for employees to meddle with it later. An efficient shift swap system makes you feel less thwarted, and you will have more dynamic teams who are less likely to stir up out of the blue. 

So, what are the secret ingredients to developing an effective shift swap structure? Here are some of them. 

  • Educate and inform workers 

Your employees won’t live up to your expectations if they don’t know what they are in the first place. As part of their onboarding process and training, they should be introduced to your shift swapping processes together with your expectations. 

Inform them of your shift swapping system’s intricacies—from understanding the formal process to knowing who the point of contact is if they need to notify someone in the company. Don’t forget to hand them their employee handbook that elaborates what they need to know about swapping shifts. 

  • Approval from the manager 

Your managers should be cognisant of shift changes or swaps in the workforce. This is because your management team serves as the frontline to uphold the company's policies. 

Out of necessity, employees may need to swap their shifts with good intentions. However, if there’s no approval coming from the manager, it could trigger issues with cross-training, management responsibilities or overtime. 

The manager’s approval can build a clear responsibility for who is needed to work in the designated work schedule.

  • Automate the shift swapping process 

The importance of a shift swapping system should not be overlooked, that much is true, yet manual methods will only make room for errors and inconsistencies. Automating the process requires much less of your time. This is a win-win situation as it requires less of the manager’s time, and employees won’t have to get the manager’s approval all the time. 

You can invest in RosterElf’s automatic shift swapping software. It’s easily accessible through smartphones, so employees can quickly check their schedules remotely. 

  • Share work schedules in advance 

There are times when employees need to take time off at the last minute. While this is not ideal, many managers face such a reality. You will encounter fewer issues if you share work schedules with your team two to four weeks in advance. 

Employees will be able to identify schedule conflicts by checking in advance when they should be working. You can then ask them to notify their managers in case of shift swaps so that schedule changes in the roster report will be made. Thus, cutting off issues before they arise.


In busy workplaces, misunderstandings over missed work schedules are on the cards. Fortunately, this is already a thing of the past as the innovation of shift swapping technology paved its way. Changing or swapping work schedules has never been this easy now.

To maximise your workforce’s productivity, you need a reliable scheduling platform. On the other hand, employees want flexibility wherein they can check shifts remotely. Automatic shift swapping software is the solution for both. 

You can leverage your employee management with RosterElf’s advanced applications for shift swapping, scheduling, rostering, time and attendance, and even payroll integration. Check out more of our automated management systems. Give us a call now on 1300 353 000.

Have Questions?

We Have The Answers!

What makes shift swapping a game-changer for workplaces?

Shift swapping converts inflexible schedules to flexible ones, allowing employees to adjust work hours without disrupting business operations, thus boosting overall job satisfaction and productivity.

Can shift swapping improve team morale?

Yes, it fosters a sense of trust and cooperation among employees, leading to better camaraderie, less stress, and fewer sick days, as staff feel supported and valued.

How does shift swapping mitigate scheduling conflicts?

Shift swapping allows employees to find their own replacements, reducing last-minute scrambles and ensuring all shifts are covered, maintaining smooth operations.

What tools can simplify the shift swapping process?

Using software like RosterElf simplifies the process, minimising errors and making it easy for employees to manage shifts on their smartphones, ensuring efficiency and accessibility.

How does advance schedule sharing benefit shift swapping?

Sharing schedules 2-4 weeks ahead helps employees foresee conflicts and arrange swaps early, preventing last-minute disruptions and ensuring a well-managed workforce.

Important Notice

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