Mon, Dec 12 2022 | People Management How to Trade Shift Swap Forms For People-First Scheduling

Are you looking for a way to ditch shift swap forms and streamline your employee scheduling? This article gives you everything you need to know.

If you’re just looking for a short shift swap form template, we’ve created a downloadable one for you:

Download Free Shift Swap Request Form

However, if you’d like to know how you could NEVER need one again, stick around…

In certain industries, shift swapping is essential to work-life balance.

Employees need to know they can exchange shifts with coworkers if and when the unexpected happens.

And you, as manager, need to be able to approve or deny those requests quickly to keep shifts filled, employees happy, and your business operational.

Can you believe people still write letters to ask for a shift swap?

Crazy, right?

Crazy, but true.

Then there’s the shift swap form — it streamlined things and sped up the process a bit.

And it served its purpose in the pen-and-paper era.

But we’re in the digital age now. It’s high time to ditch these forms in favor of a faster, more efficient shift swap process that will benefit you AND your employees.

Let’s talk about how and why it’s time to retire your shift swap form by covering:

Shift Swap Forms Aren’t People-Centered

This section is for those of you clinging to your shift swap form for dear life but knowing deep in your bones — there’s got to be a better way.

The long and short of it is — a shift swap form isn’t a people-first option.

You know that shift schedules made in an Excel spreadsheet are time-consuming. As a result, managers who have to monitor the schedule continually have less time to focus on employees, team building, and business operations.

Managers spend 20% of their time manually creating employee schedules

On average, managers spend 20% of their time manually creating employee schedules. In a 40-hour work week, that’s almost an entire day per week consumed by schedule management.

Employees who have to find a coworker willing to trade shifts, complete and submit a shift swap form, and then wait on a denial or approval feel less satisfied in their job role.

They also feel less ownership of their shifts.


Because they feel like they have less control over their work schedule, which discourages ownership of their shift slots.

Shift exchange requests made on forms can pile on unnecessary stress for the manager and employee because the process is laborious and slow.

With the ongoing labor shortage, you’ve got to put your employees first if you want them to stay. They need to feel valued — both in and out of work.

Tedious, slow manual processes like shift swap forms aren’t efficient and can chip away at both manager and employee morale.

You’ve got superior options with the technology available today. Let’s address technology and how it can revolutionize your shift swap process.

Technology Renders Shift Swap Forms Unnecessary

Businesses are in a digital transformation. It’s the growing trend of companies replacing manual tasks with digital technology to improve processes, company culture, and customer/patient experience.

Implementing the right technology can improve a company’s culture for managers and employees.

Just how vital is your organization’s culture?

46% of job seekers cite company culture as an important factor, and 15% declined a job due to the company’s culture.

Technology replaces shift swap forms (& the process that accompanies them) with a more efficient, in-real-time option.

With the technology available, it’s hard to believe that organizations are still manually making schedules and handling employee shift requests.

And yet…

23% of nurse managers don’t use any nurse scheduling tools, 24% use paper-based staffing tools, and 19% still use spreadsheets

23% of nurse managers don’t use any nurse scheduling tools, 24% use paper-based staffing tools, and 19% still use spreadsheets.

When you’re ready to jump on the technology train, create a shift swap policy to enhance your technology-powered shift-swapping process.

Not All Technology Is Equal When It Comes To Scheduling

Now, we can’t talk about trading shift swap forms for technology without addressing the elephant in the room.

Many businesses have already tried to trade shift swap forms for technology that has hindered more than helped.

Are you one of the managers using Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, or texting to handle swapping shifts?

We get it — you probably thought you’d try to use technology to your advantage, right? Of course, your employees always have their phones on them, so it makes sense why an app could streamline your scheduling.

You’re on the right track.

However, unfortunately, trading shift forms for social platforms brings a whole new set of problems to the scheduling party:

  • It’s not professional
  • It lacks oversight
  • Not everyone uses the same platforms, so there’s no consistency
  • Employees don’t have a way of seeing who’s available for extra shifts
  • Employees end up messaging back and forth in more than 1 app to get the shift covered

This method can end up being so chaotic for a last-minute shift change that it’s easier for the employee to just not show up to work.

All this just isn’t necessary.

For example, MakeShift’s staff scheduling software allows employees to post a shift they need to exchange or drop, and an available coworker can quickly respond. Then, a manager can approve it on the go, and the deal is done — this can all happen in minutes.

So, as we continue talking about getting rid of shift swap forms once and for all, keep in mind that only the RIGHT technology will get the job done.

Encourage Shift Swapping To Boost Morale

Let your employees know it’s ok to swap shifts when necessary. Communicate that their needs and lives are important.

Encourage shift swapping by trading shift swap forms and their long manual processes for an updated, more efficient process with scheduling software.

Employees feel empowered when they're more in control of their schedules, and that includes being able to trade shifts easily.

Implementing scheduling software that allows employees to communicate with coworkers to exchange shifts sends the message that work-life balance is a top priority.

Benefits of Ditching Shift Swap Forms for Tech

A manual shift swap process that relies on employees scrambling to cover for each other is a risk and a chronic, chaotic scheduling wreck waiting to happen.

Managers play an integral role in closely monitoring shift swapping — their oversight ensures that every shift will be fully covered.

Using scheduling software like MakeShift eases the burden on managers and makes shift swapping between employees more efficient, which makes for a happier, more cohesive team.

You're in good company if you think it’s time to switch from a spreadsheet to software.

The employee scheduling software market is on track to grow at a yearly rate of 12.6% as more companies optimize their scheduling processes

The employee scheduling software market is on track to grow at a yearly rate of 12.6% as more companies optimize their scheduling processes.

Benefits for Managers

Let’s hear it for a less time-consuming and cumbersome scheduling process.

Streamlining scheduling, including shift swap requests, is like a breath of fresh air. It’ll lighten the managerial load because you’re not swamped with unnecessary paperwork and processes.

Shift swapping software benefits managers by:

  1. Increasing time spent managing your team and operation — less time babysitting the schedule & shuffling through shift swap forms.
  2. Increasing oversight — quickly identify employees who regularly swap shifts & address the issue.
  3. Cutting down on absenteeism & call outs — when employees can complete shift swap requests efficiently, you’re not left scrambling to fill schedule gaps at the last minute.
  4. Creating happier employees — this goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Happier employees are easier to manage. And employees who feel they have input and control over their schedule are happier.

Benefits for Employees

Your employees have lives outside of work, and there are times when they need a shift covered.

Family issues, a sudden illness, or a day away for mental health require a last-minute change.

Scheduling software encourages employees to take more ownership of their work lives through their schedules.

They’re free to take the day off if their shift is claimed. If not, the employee remains responsible for the shift.

Shift swapping software allows employees to:

  1. Post a shift for all or eligible only fellow employees to see.
  2. Control their own schedules.
  3. Get a shift covered quickly and easily.
  4. Create a more complete work-life balance.
  5. Build a cohesive team through communication.
  6. Earn extra money by picking up extra shifts.

How to Streamline Schedule Swapping with MakeShift

Filling available shifts is one of MakeShift’s core and most valuable features.

Shift exchange is a MakeShift feature designed to help co-workers trade and cover shifts.

Effortlessly trade shifts

Staff can post the shift they’d like to swap, and other employees can offer to swap shifts with them. Once an exchange is agreed upon, managers can approve or decline it online or through the MakeShift Live app.

We know you don’t spend all day at your desk — so you’ll get a notification on your phone.

Approve or decline on the go.

Employees are immediately notified once a manager has approved or declined the request. If approved, the shift schedule is automatically updated.

Bid Adieu To Shift Swap Forms Forever

Back in the day, shift swap forms were a great option. Well, they were the ONLY option to handle shift swap requests.

There was also a day when work was done at a desk, and phone calls were taken on a landline.

Life evolves.

Utilizing technology to streamline your scheduling is a leadership move that will benefit you and your employees.

At MakeShift, we use technology to make workflows simpler and work life more manageable. Let us show you how with a free trial or a demo today.


Ready to Make the Shift?



Asher Fredricks

Written By: Asher Fredricks

Asher has been helping businesses improve their staff scheduling and human capital management systems for over 4 years. Before setting out to improve HR departments with people-first initiatives and technologies, he earned his MBA in Business Management.