How Does Public Safety Scheduling Software Handle Shift Bids?

If you’re in public safety and managing schedules, you know how valuable time is. Make the most of it with a tool to streamline your shift bidding process.

October 13, 2023

Article Highlights

Shift bidding allows responders and employees to choose their preferred shifts for an upcoming term. Often considered a perk, shift bidding can give employees more control over their schedules.  

But shift bidding doesn’t come without challenges. 

Public safety shift bidding is a complex process and can be very time-consuming for administrators to manage. Manual, paper-based processes often involve sending countless emails and in-person meetings to nail down the preferences of each employee. 

Luckily, software tools are available to alleviate some of the burden on administrators and streamline the shift bid process.

In this post, we’ll explore how you can move your shift bid process online to save time, improve visibility, keep audit trails, access reports, and more.

How do shift bids work in software?

Public safety scheduling software automates the shift bid process, eliminating the need for paper processes. Here’s how shift bidding software works.

1. Set up your shift bid process and add rules

When you set up your first bid, you’ll be able to configure the bidding process based on your department’s policies and requirements. For example, you can give seniority first pick, or you can make sure a particular shift gets enough coverage.  

Each shift bid can be configured to specific schedules, such as day or night shift, and include the minimum and maximum number of employees needed for that shift. Shift bidding apps also allow you to choose which employees or groups should be included in each shift bid and the order in which they can participate. 

2. Notify employees and start the shift bid process

Once the shift bid process is configured, you can notify participating employees with an automated message. When the bid starts, you’ll be able to see employee picks in real-time. If the process is set to manual, employees enter their bids, and administrators choose the shift recipient manually, which offers flexibility and ensures policies are met while creating the schedule. 

The bid process can also be set to a deadline, giving employees a window of time to submit their preferences. Once the deadline has passed, administrators award shifts based on a defined order bid. Whether you set the bidding to manual or deadline, shift bidding apps automate the process and empower public safety administrators. 

3. Approve shift picks at the end of the shift bid period

As soon as the bidding period closes, administrators can review scheduling preferences and approve shift picks. You’ll be able to view the results of each shift bid and quickly assign employees to shifts. Additionally, user-friendly dashboards in shift bidding software help you to identify any open shifts and fill unfilled slots with placeholders if needed.

4. Push to templates to finalize

Once shifts are assigned and approved, you can create schedule templates automatically. Whether the shift is simple, like a day or night shift, or complex involving multiple rotations, public safety scheduling software can create a template. Instead of manually assigning employees to each schedule, you can transfer approved employee assignments to a scheduling template in just a few clicks. 

Templates also make it easy to initiate future shift bids. You’ll have previously configured templates ready to use, so all you’ll have to do is choose which employees to include in the bid and approve shifts once the bid closes.  

5. Choose dates of new schedule

Once employees are transferred to the correct schedule templates, you can pick the start and end dates for the shift bid schedule to run. For example, if you are currently running a bid for next year, you would choose a start date of 1/1/2024 and end date of 12/31/2024. 

Scheduling systems are flexible enough to allow you to revise the schedule throughout the year as well. As an administrator, you can continue to make the appropriate changes as things come up (new hires, retirees, etc.), so you’re never locked into a schedule.

6. Publish and notify employees

As soon as you choose the dates, hit “publish” to make the schedules go live. Your employees will have immediate access to view approved shift schedules, but there are also options to limit visibility if needed. Notifying your employees about shift bids is also streamlined with shift bidding apps. 

You can notify employees when a shift bid begins, as updates are made, and when a schedule is finalized. Automated and customizable messages keep everyone up-to-date about an upcoming shift bid, so the process remains fair and staffing errors can be avoided. 

Why is it important? 

Reduce time spent 

Managing shift bids is an overwhelming process for most agencies, especially for those who are short staffed. Time is valuable. It’s better to not waste it by manually collecting shift bids, fussing with spreadsheets, and notifying employees individually. From collecting employee preferences to generating shift schedules, public safety scheduling software automates the entire shift bid process, freeing up your valuable time for more critical tasks.

Improve visibility 

Gaining visibility into the shift bid process not only ensures each shift is adequately staffed, but also allows employees an equal chance of getting the shifts they want. By allowing employees to see the shift preferences of other colleagues, you’ll give them more control over their schedules, which can boost morale and overall job satisfaction. Shift bidding apps also give administrators visibility to see which shifts haven’t been filled or if there are any employee scheduling mismatches.  

Keep past years records for audit trails

Keeping track of complex documentation is important if your department is ever audited. Unfortunately, maintaining paper audit trails is hard when processes change or if there’s high turnover in the department. Public safety scheduling software keeps a record of past shift bids, including the details of each bid, which can be useful if your department is ever audited.

Easily accessible reports

If you manage shift schedules, you know just how valuable a report can be. But with paper-based processes, generating reports often involves tedious data entry, manual analysis, and a higher risk of inaccuracy. Shift bidding software generates a variety of reports, giving you insight into all aspects of a shift bid, so you can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions.

Next steps

Depending on which tool you choose, the steps outlined above may look a little different. Taking the time to understand which shift bidding software will work for your agency will save you time in the long run.

If you are currently managing shift bids manually, consider using public safety scheduling software, like PowerTime. Learn more about PowerTime today.

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