TimeForge Knowledge Base

Maximize scheduling efficiency using Bid Shifts

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In an organization with variable labor needs, defining fixed employee schedules can be operationally inefficient. Not only do employee availabilities often change, but schedules in which employee preferences are not considered can have a damaging impact on employee morale and turnover. Many organizations resolve this by utilizing tools likeTimeForge’s AutoScheduler to automatically and fairly distribute shifts to employees. However, it’s important to note that TimeForge offers a powerful alternative to AutoScheduled shifts: bid shifts

Bid shifts allow employees to pick up their own shifts. While this may initially bring to mind images of mass chaos, our customers find that allowing bid shifts within the structure provided by TimeForge often contributes to a positive culture of accountability and payoff while reducing managerial time spent scheduling. Employees love the control and flexibility that Bid Shift scheduling affords them, and managers appreciate spending less time guessing when people do or don’t care to work. 

TimeForge’s Bid Shift feature was designed to complement your other scheduling strategies and works seamlessly with your other settings. Details on how it works are below, but the basics are simple:  when a schedule is posted, employees select the shifts they want to work.  

How bid shifts work

Instead of assigning a shift as “AutoSchedule” or assigning it to a specific employee, the shift instead is assigned as "Bid". This can be done automatically by the ShiftBuilder during schedule creation, or the scheduling manager can choose to mix some Bid Shifts with AutoSchedule shifts and employee-assigned shifts.

When the manager posts the schedule, a notification is sent to eligible employees (according to their notification preferences) letting them know that a shift is available for Bid. In order to be eligible to pick up a particular Bid Shift, an employee must meet the following requirements:

  1. Eligible to work the position and department associated with the bid shift
  2. Not scheduled during that time
  3. Not Unavailable during that time

Optionally, you can choose to use Skill Level Enforcement to ensure that difficult or fast-paced shifts are only available to high-skill employees. Read more about skill level enforcement here.

The employee can bid on the shift from their mobile app or any device with internet access, simply by tapping Pick Up under Schedules > Available Shifts.

In most organizations, a manager review step is required. With TimeForge, this manager review step can be configured to be skipped if your organization desires. However, we strongly recommend a manager review step to ensure compliance and avoid unnecessary overtime.  

If the manager review step is enabled (as it is by default under Location Settings), then the manager will be notified when a shift is bid on (according to their notification preferences). TimeForge will show the manager the “what if” scenario of approving a particular bid on a shift, including approximate cost, overtime status, etc. If multiple employees have bid on the same shift, the manager can use this information to select the winning employee.

When a manager selects the shift winner, that employee is assigned the shift, notified (according to their notification preferences), and the other bidders are also notified that they did not win the shift (according to their notification preferences).  

Additionally, it’s important that managers fill any shifts that were not bid on to ensure adequate coverage. TimeForge offers notifications and reports to help the manager quickly identify any shifts that have gone unfilled, and the manager can then fill the shift or AutoSchedule it. 

Further fencing of bid shifting is available, to ensure a frictionless and satisfying bidding experience for both managers and employees without negatively impacting operations. For example, TimeForge can ensure that all bids are input several days before the shift. Many organizations set this parameter at 3 days, to ensure the scheduling manager has time to review the bids, but some organizations set this parameter at 7 or 14 days to assist with advanced scheduling regulations in their areas of operation.

HR repercussions and warnings

If you choose to enable bid shifts, it’s important that you discuss with your operators the HR repercussions and warnings that TimeForge will display.

For example, some risks of allowing Bid Shifts and TimeForge’s solutions to those risks are listed below. 



Employees don’t get selected for their chosen shifts. 

Ensure managers are well coached on how to avoid favoritism and ensure transparency in their employee bid selection. Alternatively, you can allow first bid to win without manager review. 

Employees don’t bid on a shift and it remains open, leaving the store short-staffed. 

Ensure managers are paying attention to open shift notifications and reports. Additionally, managers might need to allow fewer bid shifts and utilize more AutoScheduled shifts and employee-assigned shifts. 

Managers don’t select bid winners in a timely fashion, leaving shifts open and the store short-staffed. 

Ensure managers are paying attention to open shift notifications and reports. Additionally, requiring bids a certain number of days in advance of the shift will reduce the strain on managers to provide quick turnaround on bid approvals. Alternatively, you can allow first bid to win without manager review. 

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