Shift planning app: How to beat those holiday scheduling blues

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Delicious food, piles of presents, and for retail businesses, crowds of shoppers through the doors!

Now, last year’s holiday season wasn’t quite as bumper as usual. But there’s reason for retailers to be cautiously optimistic this time around.

Black Friday 2021 saw brick and mortar stores bouncing back from lockdowns. Compared to the same period in 2020, spending in shops was up. Restrictions are ever evolving, but currently December is predicted to see a return to pre-pandemic sales figures.

Retailers need to meet this demand with perfectly balanced schedules. Understaff your shops and you run the risk of missing sales targets. But overstaff, and wage costs will start to spiral.

A shift planning app can prove invaluable for finding this balance. Let’s take a closer look.

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Unwrapping holiday season schedules

So what exactly are the challenges of the holiday season for retailers? Well, they’re much the same as during the rest of year, but hugely amplified.

  • It’s busier than Santa’s workshop. You know how important this season is to year end revenue. It’s why retailers in the UK refer to October through December as the ‘golden quarter’.

    Your stores are going to be packed. Not only with shoppers browsing for that last minute gift, but also coming in to collect online orders. In addition to employees behind the counter and on the floor, others will be handling omnichannel purchases (whether that’s posting, receiving deliveries or gift wrapping).

  • Bank holidays and special opening hours. Depending where you live in Europe or the UK, your company will be closing early or completely on Dec 24, 25 and 26. And may well be extending hours on other days (even opening 24/7 in some cases).

    Your weekly schedules will need to be adapted, and if your business is operating internationally, all these different holidays have to be taken into account.

  • Staff want more time off. Your employees will be asking for vacation during December. Even if they’re not celebrating a particular holiday, it’s still a time to spend with friends and families. You’ll want to be as accommodating as you can to all these requests, while still building a working rota.

The advantages of a shift planning app

In some cases, a shift planning app is standalone. In others, like tamigo, it’s a mobile-first version of our workforce management (WFM) solution, which can accessed through a browser. Learn more about WFM solutions here.

The two versions share a lot of features, but the app has the benefit of being accessible on the go. And this translates to a bunch of advantages around scheduling.

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Employees get their preferred hours

With staff wanting more flexibility over their holiday hours, a shift planning app can make them real collaborators in the scheduling process.

Here’s what staff can do in the tamigo app:

  • Swap shifts. Plans change. Suddenly an employee can’t work Christmas Eve after all. Instead, they’d rather work New Year’s Eve. A shift swap is needed!

    In the tamigo app, the swapper searches in the rota to see who’s working New Year’s Eve. They send a shift swap request for the swappee to accept. After that, their manager is notified to approve or reject it.

    Your business can also configure swaps to be automatic, without needing the manager’s final approval. Either way, tamigo automatically ensures swaps are both possible and compliant – to both your internal business rules but also local labour laws and collectives agreements. Swaps in the app never result in a shift clash or a breach of an employee’s contract.
  • Request holidays. Get your workforce’s vacation calendar sorted early in the year. Give everyone a deadline to request holidays over the festive season, and ask them to send those requests through the app. Managers then have a clear overview of planned absences and potential staffing gaps in the weeks and months ahead. 
  • Bid on shifts. During most of year, managers can take top-down approach to planning schedules. But during the holidays, a different approach might be needed. Even the most carefully planned December shift plans are sure to trigger a volley of “but I can’t work that day” replies from staff.

    Instead, managers can make a range of shifts available in tamigo. Employees are notified and can browse through these shifts to see which ones suit them best. 

Shift swap in tamigo

Managers can make changes on the go

The week always has surprises up its sleeve: an extra busy day on Tuesday, two employees calling in sick on Thursday. Add to that the extra headache over the holidays of delayed deliveries or low inventory.

All these scenarios require quick, agile scheduling. With a shift app, you can adapt to this whirlwind in a couple of taps on your smartphone. Edit and add shifts, approve shift swaps, find out who’s available to come in on short notice.

No matter what changes are made, everything’s saved in real-time. So everyone throughout the company always has the most up to date schedule at their fingertips.

Communication is so much easier

A shift planning app like tamigo eliminates the need for emails or calls every time the schedule changes. Instead, employees are notified instantly through the app. Managers save so much time, while staff can trust they’re being kept in the loop. That's why ALDI Denmark implemented tamigo in 2021

If managers do need to get in touch with someone, the app has a complete directory of staff’s contact details — accessible on the go, not just stored on the computer in the back office.

tamigo can also serve as the place for company-wide communication. The first page that staff see on opening the app is the ‘Info’ page. It’s where admins and managers can post up important messages. It could be a reminder about the week’s in-store discounts or a new company policy.


The holidays are serious business for retailers. A shift planning app can help businesses not just cope with the extra demand, but positively prosper. The same goes for the other tools in tamigo’s all-in-one WFM solution, from KPI reporting to payroll exports.

To learn more and talk to one of our specialists, book your free demo



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