If you run a business or organization, it can be difficult to schedule employees to work at certain hours or in specific locations. Some employees likely will not be happy with the shift or location they've been assigned to. Instead of trying to guess or consistently seek feedback from employees about their preferences, you can use a work-bidding program to make them part of the solution. These programs are especially effective for employees such as nurses or police officers who work around the clock in different locations.

Shift bidding allows employees to enter a bid into a computer system. Those who enter bids locate a work schedule on the computer that has several listings of dates, shifts and locations. The employee locates the dates, times and locations during which she wants to work and makes a bid about how much she would like to be paid for working those hours. At the end of the process, a manager, or the computer, awards the shifts, typically to those with the lowest bids. Computers can manage this part of the process if any mix of workers can fill a shift. Managers tend to make final decisions if a shift needs a mix of workers with different skillsets and experience.

Employer Advantages

Employers find shift bidding to be advantageous because it solves several problems at once. Managers do not need to worry about who should be assigned to which shift, because the employees ultimately work this out themselves. By allowing employees to bid on hours -- including overtime hours -- the employer still saves more money than it would if it needed to hire out contract or temporary workers to fill in unmanned shifts.

Employee Advantages

Employees who have preference in hours and locations are able to make choices that help them determine what is more important -- the shift or the pay. Shift bidding also allows employees to have an increased level of flexibility. For example, an employee who is a parent may want to work different hours when school is in session than she would want to work when there is no school.


In some shift-bidding software programs, preference is given not only to those with the lowest bids, but also to those who have seniority in the workplace. This can cause frustration for junior employees who may have difficulty making it into the shifts than they would like to work. Likewise, some employers may find it more difficult to attract new employees or retain employees who do not like how the shift-bidding process works. This may also be time-consuming, as employees may have to keep checking to see if they need to rebid as new bids come in.