Creative Scheduling Strategies For Today’s DSP Workforce [Part 2]

Rethinking your DSPs’ schedules? These tips will help you make the change successfully.

In our last article, we explored why it’s time for disability service agencies to ditch the “eight hours a day, five days a week” mindset, and laid out seven creative scheduling strategies to try instead. (You can read the full post here.


Today, we’ll share how you can start putting some of those strategies into practice in your own organization. 

Making change work, when work keeps changing

During the pandemic, agencies were forced to shift their entire operations online. Admin staff and DSPs had to quickly adapt to new technology to deliver services virtually instead of in-person. 


Figuring it all out took some trial and error. But in the end, many organizations discovered new ways of working that benefited their clients and staff. They also learned that change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and worth it at the end. These are lessons that also apply to changing how you run your schedule. 


If you were inspired by the creative scheduling ideas in our last article and are ready to make a change, here are some strategies that can help:  

1. Gather feedback from employees

Ask any employee what they want from their schedule, and they’ll most likely tell you flexibility. However, this can mean different things to different people. Running a focus group or survey within your team can help you uncover DSPs’ attitudes toward their current schedule and alternative work arrangements. It also helps employees feel like they’re part of the change, rather than it being something that is done to them.

2. Consider the impact on your clients

Before making any major schedule changes, think about how doing so will impact coverage and availability. In some cases, switching schedules may not make much of a difference at all for your clients. Other times, you may find that it actually works out better. For example, going from eight-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts in residential settings will mean caregivers are able to support their clients for longer.

3. Determine which HR rules apply

The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, is a federal law that establishes rules about hours worked and overtime pay. Many states also have their own laws that dictate how many hours someone can work without being paid overtime. For example, Alaska, California, and Nevada require employers to pay employees overtime if they work more than eight hours in a day. Sometimes there are exceptions for certain groups of employees, such as healthcare workers, so it’s important to understand all applicable rules before you make any changes.

4. Hire a consultant

Switching to an alternative schedule is a significant change, so you may want to consider enlisting outside help. A skilled consultant can advise you on the rules that apply to your specific situation. They can also recommend the best way to manage that change and keep your employees happy. Finally, consultants can help you preserve the manager-DSP relationship during a big change. The consultant can play the role of the “bad cop” so that you don’t have to.

5. Pilot it with a small group

Instead of rolling out a new schedule to your entire organization, you might consider piloting it with one site or program first. A pilot program is a low-risk way to dip your toe into the water. It allows you to work out all the small details so that when you eventually roll out the change to the entire agency, it will go much smoother.

6. Communicate the changes to your employees

Imagine waking up to an email announcing that your schedule has changed. Instead of reporting at 9 a.m., you’re now expected to show up at 6 a.m. Oh, and it’s effective on Monday. While this scenario might seem unlikely, it illustrates the reason why springing a schedule change on your staff is a bad idea. Not only does an abrupt change totally mess up their schedule, it also feels disrespectful to their personal life. 


If you are thinking of making a major change to your schedule, it’s always a good idea to communicate this to your employees ahead of time. Some employers worry if they tell DSPs about an upcoming change, they’ll quit when they find out. However, it’s best to be open and honest with your staff. Transparency helps build trust, which helps employees feel secure in their jobs and, in turn, reduces turnover

The bottom line

The workplace is changing, and today’s employees are looking for more flexibility in their schedules. Changing the way you run your schedule can alleviate many of the staffing problems disability service agencies experience, as well as help you attract new applicants. By following the steps we’ve outlined above, you can embrace a schedule change and make it easier for others to embrace it, too. 


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SETWorks is software for disability service agencies, improving service efficiency and reducing administrative burden.
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