Why Staffing and Scheduling Are Two Different Things

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Posted by: David Garcia November 05, 2021

In the perfect world for an HR team, you’d have every position filled, a clear schedule sent out on time, employees never overlapping shifts.

But the reality for an HR team looks more like vacancies, shifting schedules every week, and constant overstaffing or understaffing.

If you want to get your team over to the perfect world, you need to know the difference between staffing and scheduling.

Don’t forget the human in human resources—people are not chess pieces you can move around. Staffing and scheduling is a delicate dance performed just offstage to ensure the show goes on without a hitch.

Here’s what you need to know about the differences between staffing and scheduling to improve daily operations:

The Differences Between Staffing and Scheduling

In the most basic sense, staffing and scheduling mean assigning each employee to a workplace task for a specific period. But it is far more than just setting up a name for a job.

Most importantly, staffing means you have the correct number of adequately trained employees at any given time. However, having a large team does not help in and of itself. You cannot just exchange one employee with another. It is necessary to keep the correct ratio on your roster.

Scheduling means that the appropriate people show up at the right time for their position. You need to find the sweet spot. Too many people in at once, and you have idle staff. Not enough, and the team is scrambling to complete the work.

Both situations create a safety hazard in many jobs due to increased worker fatigue, reduced concentration, and poor quality control.

While the two ideas go hand in hand, you cannot assume they are one and the same. It is a balancing act to maintain proper scheduling and adequate staffing.

How to Make the Best Use of both Staffing and Scheduling

To streamline your staffing and scheduling needs, follow these essential tips.

Lay Out Priorities

Understand what the essentials of the day are and tackle them first.

If there is a task that needs completing by the end of the day, schedule the proper employee first. Build your team around tasks, not the other way around.

Making checklists is an easy way to keep tabs on what needs to get done. Have your employees mark off when they have completed a task and sign their names. That is an easy way to keep track of total efficiency.


Don’t box in your employees. Just because one person has trained for a specific job on paper doesn’t mean they can’t take on additional roles.

The more employees you have cross-trained, the less panic you’ll enter into when someone calls out sick.

Consider offering incentives for those who wish to cross-train. Maybe a bonus or extra shifts. Cross-training also makes a single employee more valuable and can provide more opportunities for their future.

Cross-training is a smart way to provide a support system when you need last-minute help.

Support the Team as a Unit

Do not put pressure on a single employee to complete the most important jobs of the day. Spread around checklist duties.

It can help to schedule several people for the same task when you know you are entering a sprint or rush.

Listen to Your Employees

Within the ever-growing list of employee benefits comes making your own hours. It might seem counterintuitive at first. But taking the time to ask everyone what works best for them can open new doors.

You might find out some employees want to cross-train. Others may want to cut back or pick up extra shifts. You’ll be surprised what you find when you simply ask.


You spend so much time figuring who you need and when—why waste a minute performing background checks?

At ScoutLogic, we take care of all your background check needs. One of our experts will personally guide your team through every step of the process, so you’re never left in the dark.

Use your new knowledge to tackle staffing and scheduling—we’ll take care of the background checks!

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