Can Staff Shift Planner Accommodate Differentiating Employee Rates?

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 15/08/2022
shift planner

In this article, we are addressing business owners, financial directors and accountants. If your business runs on a shift-based model but you’re hesitant to invest in a staff shift planner as you have different rates, we aim to change your mind. This could be one of the best business decisions to make.




We often talk about the benefits of automation. Whether you fully hand the process over to the machines or automate parts of it, you will be getting something out of it. There’s no process that cannot be automated, and very often the reservations we hold are not valid. In today’s article, we’ll be talking about one such process - shift scheduling. We’ve noticed that many companies are missing out on employing a tool to automate shift rotation schedules due to differentiating employee rates across different shifts. Simply put, it’s a common reservation that no tool can be adjusted to complex pay rates. 

Most software solutions use the convenience and time-saving factors as their selling point, barely ever touching the subject of pay rates. We can see where the confusion comes from. So, in this article we’ll address the question - can staff shift planners accommodate differentiating employee rates?

Short Answer - Yes

If you’re short on time and need a direct answer, we are happy to say that yes, a staff shift planner is fully capable of taking into consideration differentiating employee rates. Of course, this will largely depend on the solution and how flexible the applicable settings are. However, even the most basic tools should be able to accommodate some level of customisation for different types of businesses. 

Depending on how complex your rates are, even free solutions can suffice. But keep in mind, if you require more advanced customisation, you should research paid solutions. They offer a wider range of options such as overtime, weekend rates and time-based rates. All in all, with the speedy development of the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) market, there’s a guaranteed solution out there for every business, no matter how unique their needs are. So, if you’re worried about whether your employee rates are too complicated for a staff shift planner to meet your demands, we assure you they are not.  And if that is not convincing enough, find the long answer with more evidence below. 

Technology Has Gone a Long Way

First things first - don’t underestimate what the technology of today is capable of. The SaaS industry is particularly fast-paced when it comes to developing new solutions. Most of the shift planners, due to their requirement for accessibility and flexibility, are SaaS and have most likely already surpassed your wildest expectations. 

Shift Planner and Timesheets in One

The pace of modern businesses is extremely fast and therefore every second counts. This is precisely why SaaS developers are constantly looking for ways of helping you speed up and smoothen workflows through automation. While it may seem that changing between the tabs to import/export data from one solution to another is a time-consuming job, those couple of seconds build up into hours you could otherwise be spending on more progress-driving tasks. That is one of the key reasons why most solutions offer different modules within the same platform, so you can easily tailor your processes within a centralised location. 

Since shift workers heavily rely on timesheets and they also serve as the primary information source for calculating differentiating rates when processing the payment, it’s logical for the shift scheduling software to work in tandem with a timesheet solution. A truly powerful tool will have both incorporated into it, taking the tasks of building schedules in accordance with your financial capacity and calculating employee wages off your shoulders. In fact, depending on what other features are part of the platform and how you utilise them, you will most likely be able to automate even more admin tasks. 

Accounting Software Integrations

Another valuable asset of SaaS tools is integrations with other software. Simply put, a single tool isn’t likely to have everything you need to run a successful business. You will therefore need several solutions for managing different parts of it. For example, you can’t expect a shift scheduler to also act as accounting software. However,  going back to the goal of reducing manual data entry and app-switching, there is an option of linking different tools for effortless data transfer - which is software integration. 

When you integrate your staff shift planner solution with an accounting one, it sends the data of the compensation you owe to the workers, inclusive of the different rates already calculated, straight to your accounting tool. The transfer, as opposed to the import-export procedure or manual data insertion, only takes a couple of clicks within the scheduling solution. This makes the process much quicker and also reduces the risk of human error. Integrations is therefore an important factor to take into consideration when looking for a suitable tool, but we’ll expand on that in the next part. 

Choosing the Right Solution

However, as amazing as the SaaS market sounds, there’s one issue - it’s massive and keeps expanding. It is therefore easy to get lost in the sea of solutions, ultimately investing in a tool that’s not the most useful for your business in particular. The bright side is that the vast range of options guarantees every business has at least one tool to tick all the boxes on their must-have list. The challenge is to find it. 

Focus on Your Unique Needs

As stated before, there is a solution for every business, no matter the level of complexity or niche functionality you require. With this said, it’s important to highlight that you should never settle for a tool that doesn’t tick all of your boxes. Additionally, the right fit software won’t make you build your processes around it but instead adapt and help you optimise them. For this reason, we suggest starting the search for the right solution by making a list of the features you’d absolutely love to have. 

The next step would be separating them into must-haves and would-be-nice-to-haves. For example, if you have differentiating employee rates for day and night shifts, your must-have feature is being able to record that. If you also pay extra for overtime but your workers don’t work it often, an overtime rate feature would be a nice to have. It is easier to choose the right solution when you have a clear outline of what you need it to do. Most software vendors will try to dazzle you with a long list of functionality that sounds great but might be irrelevant to you. Therefore having a list of features makes it easier to stay on the right course. 

Don’t Dismiss Industry Standards 

While you should prioritise the unique needs of your business, you shouldn’t dismiss functionality that is widely used within your sector; even if it sounds redundant to you. Industry standards are called such because they’re assets proven to be valuable for businesses operating in the said industry. Chances are you don’t fully grasp the benefits they offer. For this reason, you should research your competitors or look-alike businesses to get an idea of how they utilise said features. 

For example, if you’re a small company with a handful of clients, you may think that an invoice automation function isn’t something you need. Putting invoices together only takes a couple of minutes at a time and you don’t feel you’d gain much from having them generated by the software. However, there’s more to invoice generation than saving time. No matter how diligent you are - you’re human. And humans make mistakes. An automated procedure, on the other hand, runs a script for pulling and organising the data you feed into it. Therefore the only way for it to be wrong is either incorrect data or wrong configuration. If you don’t have many clients, you can’t afford to lose them over a silly manual data insertion error, can you?

Improving with Time

It’s important you keep in mind that the process of digitisation doesn’t stop evolving after you employ a solution that covers the needs of your business. In fact, you should be ready to continuously improve its performance by optimising the way it runs tasks. We’ve briefly mentioned integrations earlier in the article, but they play a very important role in securing the ROI for every tool you adopt. 

Building a Tech Stack

Moving forward, you should start focusing on creating a centralised system of solutions you use. You do it by linking them to one another via integrations, this way making it easy to transfer the data between them and unlocking further automation functions. Very often use of different solutions across different departments leads to heaps of siloed data which then translates into lost opportunities. A centralised software stack all company uses ensures no data falls through the cracks.

The best thing is that your stack doesn’t need to be huge - it is actually recommended to limit it to 3-4 solutions. It is therefore very cost efficient and, depending on utilisation, a huge driver of ROI. With this said, it’s important you choose your solutions wisely. A good tech stack can become the cornerstone of your business processes for the years to come. 


The landscape of technological advancement is changing as we speak. It can therefore be difficult to stay on top of what the solutions of today are capable of. The features we could only dream of a few years back are not seen as a basic requirement or an industry standard. A staff shift planner would be a prime example. A not long time ago, it seemed like a solution only workplaces with the same pay rate could benefit from. Nowadays, however, it easily accommodates differentiating employee rates. 

The market is wide. There are tools with different feature sets, price ranges, sector specifics, integrations and more. To put it shortly, there is something for everyone out there, no matter how niche and unique. The only requirement is that you need to be specific and laser-focused on what is that you seek. With that and a pinch of patience, you are bound to find a tool to meet all your needs.

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