Scheduling is a basic function of management. While most employees come to expect rather fixed schedules, newsroom employees may not. After all, the nature of news defies predictability and convenience.
For reporters, scheduling flexibility is helpful and necessary. Reporters may need to adjust to early-morning events, or nighttime meetings, or weekend breaking news.
For anchors, of course, the opposite is true: schedule rigidity is essential. On-air shifts require anchors and hosts to be at their assigned posts in time to prepare and deliver the news according to the clock.
On any given day, you may have fixed-scheduled employees and flex-schedule employees. Fixed schedules will have regular start and end times. Flex-schedule employees will need on-going scheduling attention — but can be given default schedules that only change when variations are communicated.
While workers on flex-schedules are willing to adjust accordingly, they still desire as much advance notice as possible when deviating from the default schedule.
Holidays may bring variations to normal scheduling. It is common to grant some staff holidays while scheduling others to hold down key air-shifts. As holidays are known in advance, plan your holiday rotations as far in advance as possible. Use rotations to distribute the work fairly.
Similarly, you can ask employees to ease scheduling challenges by planning their vacations as far in advance as possible. It is important to accommodate the vacation needs of employees while maintaining a viable news service. With a combination of teamwork and planning, the newsroom can avoid “doubling up”on vacation dates.
Scheduling back up and fill in personnel will be easier if you have defined back-up personnel. Naming someone as “First Back-Up” and another “Second Back-Up” for an air host, for example, helps clarify who will respond and what procedures are enacted when that air host is unavailable.
You’ll have legal and labor rules to navigate in scheduling personnel. Be sure to work in cooperation with your human resource office. News work can be demanding and require unusual scheduling, but it is never an excuse for treating employees unfairly or denying them their due benefits or appropriate compensation.