Using Employee Availability Forms Efficiently

Managing schedule changes for workers can be a challenging and demanding task, but its also a core component of time management.

When you observe that your employees are regularly altering their shift schedules, providing last-minute notice that they are unable to work scheduled shifts, or simply not showing up, it is advisable to introduce an employee availability form to ensure proper communication and coordination.

By using an employee availability form, you can collect valuable insights into your workers’ preferences and availability. 

This enables you to create more efficient shift schedules by considering their circumstances and constraints.

Let’s discuss what an employee availability form is, why it is important, who is responsible for availability management, and what to include in an employee availability form.

Employee Availability Forms | Everything You Need to Know

What Is Employee Availability Form?
An employee availability form is a record used by employees to indicate their available number of hours and unavailable work times. Typically, this form comprises a table or calendar where employees can fill out their preferred working hours.

The details needed for an availability form vary depending on the scheduling process and each company’s specific requirements. 

Generally, the form includes the days and times when employees are available for work. 

However, some businesses may request information on the hours that employees are unable to work, as well as details about their qualifications, skills, or desired positions.

The employee availability form serves as a means for employees to express their scheduling needs to management. 

In turn, management can utilize this information to develop employee work schedules that consider both the business’s full-time operational demands and their employees’ preferences.

Why Are Employee Availability Forms Important?

Why Are Employee Availability Forms Important

Employee availability forms are vital for employee scheduling in managing their workforce effectively.

Here are some key reasons why employee availability forms are essential:

1. Meet Business Goals

Staff availability forms allow employers to form an availability calendar, i.e., manage employee productivity with robust employee scheduling, ensuring they have the right number of employees available during peak hours or special events.

This helps businesses to run more efficiently and provide better customer service.

2. Support Flexible Working

It’s easier to form a weekly schedule on a whim when you can use your employees’ availabilities to form schedule templates. Employee availability forms enable employees to indicate their preferred work hours or days, allowing employers to accommodate a range of scheduling needs, including part-time work or job sharing. No more overlapping shifts or double-bookings.

3. Prevent Employee Burnout

You don’t want employees forcing themselves in to work – dragging themselves to clock in, drifting through the day until its their end time. Employee availability forms enable employees to indicate their preferred work hours, workweek, or days allowing scheduling managers to accommodate a range of staff scheduling solutions, including part-time work or job sharing.

4. Reduce Absenteeism

Employee availability forms help employers optimize scheduling plans and other business needs, avoiding situations where there are not enough employees to cover shifts. This level of advanced forecasting is especially critical for small businesses, who have smaller margins for error.

This reduces the likelihood of last-minute call-offs or no-shows, disrupting the business and leading to lost productivity.

5. Reduce The Costs Of Unforeseen Circumstances

By clearly understanding when employees are available to work, employers can more easily adjust new team schedules to meet unexpected needs without having to rely on costly overtime or temporary staff.

6. Hire Effectively

Employee availability forms enable employers to collect information on when applicants are available to work, allowing them to assess better whether they have the staffing capacity to meet their needs. 

This can help to ensure that new hires are a good shift-based fit for the business and reduce the likelihood of turnover due to scheduling conflicts or other issues.

7. Identify Quiet Quitting

Employee availability forms can be used to monitor changes in employee availability, which may indicate disengagement or unhappiness

This can help employers to identify potential issues and take steps to address them before they escalate.

Who is Responsible For Availability Management?

Maintaining smooth business operations heavily relies on employee availability, but the process can be time-consuming. As a business owner or manager, it’s crucial to prioritize the accuracy and timeliness of available information.

However, it’s not solely your responsibility to chase down every employee for updates. Encourage employees to take accountability for keeping their availability information up-to-date.

An effective way to do this is by highlighting the significance of maintaining accurate availability of information during onboarding, team meetings, and training sessions or by including it in the employee handbook. 

By emphasizing this importance, employees can understand how their availability affects the overall functioning of the business and take ownership of keeping their information current.

Information to Include With Employee Attendance Reports

Managers should collect employee work preferences (i.e., hours worked, shift preference, availability, skills, and certifications). This also helps to keep track of employee seniority among a large number of employees. 

Accurately gathered details should allow management to view information for a given employee on any given day.

To be the most effective, employee availability forms should include the following information:

1. Employee Contact Information

Having accurate details such as the employee’s name, phone number, and email address is crucial in case you need to contact them or send notifications for any queries or concerns that may arise.

2. Signatures And Dates

To make the form official, it’s important for both you and your employee to sign and date it at the bottom. The employee’s signature verifies that staff members have provided accurate information about their unavailable hours.

Similarly, your signature signifies that you have understood the information and will consider it when creating the upcoming work schedule. 

This mutual agreement ensures clear communication and helps avoid any potential future misunderstandings and maybe hold your employees accountable in your records if absenteeism becomes a significant issue

3. Instructions

Providing clear instructions on your employee availability form is crucial. It’s important not to assume that every employee will know how you want the form to be filled out.

To ensure clarity, keep the instructions straightforward and unambiguous. If necessary, include specific words such as “unavailable” or “no restrictions” to avoid any potential confusion.

If your business operates throughout the day, it’s vital to instruct your employees to include “A.M.” and “P.M.” when specifying their availability. 

This step can eliminate any ambiguity and make sure that you have a clear understanding of when your employees are available to work. 

4. Availability

It’s important to provide sufficient space on the availability form for the employee to indicate their schedule. The format of this section may vary, such as a checklist, a table, or blanks for writing down numbers.

Whichever format you choose, ensure it’s straightforward for your employees to use. 

The section should be simple and intuitive, allowing employees to fill it out quickly and easily in less than five minutes.

If it can be done in less time, even better. This will save time and make the process more efficient for everyone involved.

5. Preferred Shifts

Preferred Shifts

It’s important to provide a section on the availability form for employees to indicate any preferred shift-specific times or days. This allows employees to specify days of the week or time slots they want to avoid.

It is important to note that there is a difference between availability and preference. 

While availability refers to the hours and days an employee can work, preference refers to the days or shifts they want to work or avoid. 

While you may be unable to accommodate all of their preferences, it’s still essential to consider them when possible. This can help to increase employee satisfaction and engagement, ultimately benefiting the business in the long run.

5. Time Off

Time Off

Employees can use this “Time Off” section to share any medical appointments, vacations, personal days, etc., if they already know the specific date or time for it. 

However, this is an optional section and does not need employees to share all their paid time off requests in advance. 

6. Additional Comments

It is essential to provide a section on the availability form for workers to provide any additional information about their availability. This can include specific details or nuances that may not fit into the main availability section.

For example, an employee may only be available on alternate Wednesdays, which can be specified in this section. 

This allows employees to communicate any unique circumstances that may impact their availability, allowing managers to make informed decisions when creating the work schedule.

7. Acknowledgments

Include a statement on the availability form confirming that the employee has provided accurate information. 

Additionally, it should be stated that the employee is responsible for keeping the information updated and notifying you about any changes. 

This also creates a mutual understanding between the employer and employee, ensuring clear communication and accountability.

8. Future Adjustments

Leaving space for future adjustments in the availability form can be helpful. By doing so, if the employee is aware of any upcoming changes to their schedule, they can include it in the initial form submission. 

This will save them from having to fill out a new form later. However, it is important to note that as a manager, you will be responsible for keeping track of when the new availability will take effect. 

The above-mentioned details can give the employer a more accurate, broader view of how current employee attendance and absences affect the overall business, as well as help management authorize leave requests, schedule shifts, and make hiring plans

How to Utilize the Information Collected Above With Employee Availability Forms?

Collecting information on employee availability is essential for effective workforce and project management.

Once you have collected this information, you can utilize it in several ways to ensure your organization is staffed appropriately.

1. Prepare

Kindly inform all your employees that we will be conducting an availability review in the coming days. 

Please ask them to review their personal schedules to identify any changes and ensure their availability. This message applies to all employees.

2. Meet With Employees

To update the employee availability records, please schedule a meeting with each employee and provide them with a new form to fill out. 

If their availability hasn’t changed (and won’t change in the near future), they can simply sign and date the form next to a note indicating this. 

For new hires, please include the availability form with other new employee forms. 

To simplify the onboarding process, consider including a copy of the availability form in the employee handbook so that both new and long-time employees can access it whenever necessary.

3. Schedule Shifts

Use the employee availability forms to create a schedule that meets both your organization’s needs and your employees’ availability. 

Ensure to consider any time-off requests or special circumstances that employees may have mentioned on the availability form.

4. Manage Leave Requests

You can better manage leave requests with the information collected from the availability forms. 

You can easily see which employees are available to cover shifts and which employees are not. 

5. Plan Training Sessions

Knowing employee availability can help you schedule training sessions when most of your staff is available. 

This allows your employees to get the necessary training without disrupting your daily operations.

6. Monitor Workforce Capacity

Understanding employee availability can help you monitor workforce capacity. 

You can see if you have enough staff available to meet demand during peak periods or if you need to hire additional employees.

7. Increase Employee Engagement

By respecting and taking into account employees’ availability needs, you show that you value their time and respect their work-life balance. 

What Are The Benefits of Employee Availability Forms?

What Are The Benefits of Employee Availability Forms

Employee availability forms are documents that employees fill out to inform their employers of the hours and days they are available to work. 

These forms have a number of benefits for both employers and employees. 

Here are some of the key benefits of employee availability forms:

1. Increase Employee Productivity And Efficiency

Flexibility in being able to swap or switch some availability with fellow employees is appreciated by employees as well. 

Free employees can see time frames they might want to come in and earn more wages, while scheduled team members can do the opposite, using a request form to let you know ahead of time if they’d like to be replaced for a certain shift or day. 

This helps you avoid last-minute changes in the timesheet that can be difficult to find new employees to cover for.

Managers obviously reserve the right to approve or deny the additional hours or changes requested via application forms or requests (depending on whether you use a shift scheduling app). 

An organized, well-planned schedule also streamlines productivity for workforce management, and frees administrators up to focus on more pressing matters.

Employee productivity and performance increase when employees feel they are a part of the team by being allowed to have a hand in their scheduling process. The best way to incorporate effective scheduling is to utilize and introduce employee scheduling software in your business.

Employees are more likely to be dedicated to its success if they feel their personal needs are important to the company. 

Employees who feel valued will be more likely to pick up an extra shift or accept a canceled one when the time arrives. 

As a side benefit, satisfied and happy employees help build a favorable public image and attract additional competent staff.

2. Improve Bottom Line And Reduce Labor Costs

Employers can realize cost savings and other financial benefits by creating more efficient schedules and increasing productivity. 

For example, reducing absenteeism and turnover rates can save money on recruitment and training costs and the costs associated with lost productivity.

3. Better Manage Staffing Needs During Peak Periods

Employee availability forms can help employers identify periods of high demand and schedule additional workers during these times, leading to increased productivity and improved customer service.

4. Reduce Absenteeism And Turnover Rates

By allowing employees to provide their preferred hours and days of availability, businesses can create more flexible schedules that accommodate employees’ personal responsibilities and obligations. 

5. Create More Efficient Schedules 

Employee availability forms enable businesses to create schedules that are tailored to employees’ preferences, leading to increased job satisfaction and better work-life balance.

6. Improve Employee Satisfaction And Retention Rates 

Employee availability forms can improve employee satisfaction by allowing workers to choose the hours and days that best suit their lifestyle and preferences, thus reducing employee retention

Automate the Entire Process with Buddy Punch

buddy punch homescreen landing page

Gathering employee availability schedule information can be challenging, but Buddy Punch can help eliminate the hassle. 

Employee time tracking software like Buddy Punch is highly recommended for every business that helps in scheduling shifts or shift swapping accurately. 

It easily monitors and keeps track of the numbers to ensure you stay under budget without disrupting workflow. 

In many cases, the management software can serve as a time clock and offer several integrations like with a payroll software (eliminating HR or human resources hours, increasing the company’s bottom line even more.)

Staff scheduling software can print a wide array of reports, allowing the company to keep on top of its most valuable asset – its labor force.

Buddy Punch’s mobile app lets workers update their availability anytime and from anywhere, eliminating the need for manual collation of responses. 

The information is kept up-to-date in real time, eliminating the need for periodic reviews.

Buddy Punch’s drag-and-drop scheduling tool in the employee scheduling app allows you to create and assign shifts based on workers’ locations and availability. The first time you launch the tool you’ll get a feel for how easy it is to track time, schedule upcoming shifts, and handle employee requests (to take over open shifts as well as to request PTO). We made this tool to excel in simplicity.

You can also use a reusable employee availability form template to set common shifts or schedules to recur daily, weekly, or monthly.

With a shared schedule, workers can view the team’s availability and easily swap shifts, saving time and effort.


Why Use An Employee Availability Form?

An employee availability form provides clear documentation of employee availability and unavailability, minimizing misunderstandings, confusion, and frustration. 

This structured and easy-to-understand format allows managers to plan work schedules quickly and reduces the time needed for this task. 

Additionally, employees have no excuse for missing a shift or arriving late when their availability is clearly documented.

How Do You Ask For Employees’ Availability?

There are several ways to request employee availability, such as in-person, by phone, email, text, Facebook Messenger, or the Buddy Punch app. 

However, using Buddy Punch’s availability feature is a more efficient approach. 

Employees can easily add their availability, non-availability, and preferred hours from their devices and directly into the schedule planner, making it easier for managers to consider when scheduling.

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