Schedule shifts like a pro with SMS.

Got a lot of staff? Make the task of managing shifts easy-as-pie with SMS.

This article has been written by Amanda Ranville Amanda Ranville wrote in use-cases February 13, 2024
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When you run a busy healthcare, hospitality, retail, or other shift-based business, keeping track of who’s working when can be hard work. Particularly when you’ve got multiple shifts to fill each day, and a large roster of staff to keep happy. 

If you’re manually trying to fill shifts, chase employees, and confirm people’s availability, all those endless phone calls and unanswered emails don’t make it any easier.  

It’s why leading organisations have switched to SMS for shift rostering. It’s a super-smooth and streamlined way to keep all staff in the loop about work schedules.

What is SMS for shift rostering?

In its simplest form, SMS for shift rostering is the use of text messages for all the to-and-fro communication tied to work shifts and rosters. Not only does it lighten the load on whoever’s in charge of filling shift schedules, but it’s convenient and easy for all your staff, too. 

You could use SMS to remind individual staff about their upcoming shifts or to check people’s availability to fill an empty shift. You could use it to alert all staff about changes to rosters or to invite them to bid on available shifts. It’s really up to you and the needs of your business.

What’s so great about SMS for managing shifts?

Sick of staff no-shows? Tired of juggling last-minute requests to swap shifts? If you’re in charge of managing your organisation’s weekly shift schedules, we don’t blame you. Just when you think you’ve got the roster sorted, someone calls up and says they can’t make it in this week. Juggling it all becomes a full-time job. 

Anything you can do to streamline the scheduling process is going to be a win-win for you and your staff. And one of the simplest improvements you can make? Switching to SMS for sending shift notifications and managing shift changes. 

Using SMS for shift rostering delivers a raft of benefits:

Know your message will get through.

There’s nothing faster and more direct than a text message. It’s pretty much guaranteed that all your employees will have a mobile phone – and it goes without saying that people check their phones all the time.  

So if you need to quickly send out an updated roster or organise an urgent shift swap, SMS is a trusted and reliable way to get your message through.

Keep employees happy.

Happy staff means happy customers, right? Boost employee engagement by simplifying and streamlining the way you manage shifts and work schedules. 

Staff will love the convenience of SMS updates and are more likely to engage with a quick text message rather than listen to and respond to a voicemail message.

Free up your HR team’s time.

Behind the scenes, SMS helps streamline shift rostering by eliminating the need for manual admin, phone calls, and follow-ups. With just a few taps, you can efficiently assign shifts, fill open positions, and manage employee availability.

Reduce no-shows.

How often do employees “forget” they had a shift? If staff no-shows are an issue, then you could use SMS to send out shift reminders that ask staff to confirm they’re coming in. Similar to using SMS for appointment reminders, it’s a really handy way to remind staff about their commitments and ensure you’re not left in the lurch.

Using SMS in healthcare?

See how SMS can help with patient appointment reminders and updates as well as shift rostering.

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Top tips for using SMS for shift rostering.

The shiftworkers have spoken. SMS is great for keeping track of work schedules and bidding on shifts. To start reaping its benefits in your business, keep these tips in mind.

Add SMS to your favorite tools.

Thanks to the power of integrations, there’s no need to add another tool to your tech stack. Instead, you can easily plug Sinch MessageMedia into your existing software so your team can send and receive SMS from tools you already use.

Check out all of our integrations.

Make it a two-way conversation.

To really tap into the benefits of SMS for shift scheduling, make sure you’re using two-way SMS. After all, if you send out a text blast asking who can cover a shift, employees will want the easy ability to ping back a quick, “Me, please.”

Plus, with two-way texting, you can easily set up automated responses and rules, have connected conversations with employees, and stay on top of every scheduling conversation with your team.

Keep things short and sweet.

There’s no need to get fancy with your shift rostering text messages. People just want the details — the time and date of their shift, for example, or how they can bid on an upcoming vacant shift. Be sure to pop in all the relevant information an employee might need, and nothing more.  

That said, there may be room to inject your unique brand voice as a nice way to reinforce your culture or values.

“It has added tremendous clarity to our on-call roster.”

See how using Sinch MessageMedia with Zapier transformed shift sheduling for CAPAnesthesia.

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Text templates to help with SMS rostering.

Start with these ready-to-go templates and adapt them to suit the needs of your business.

Shift bidding.

TEMPLATE: Hello team. We have a few shifts available on [Shift Date] [Shift Time]. Reply Y if you’re available to work. 

Shift availability notification.

TEMPLATE: Hi team, we have new shifts available this week. Please review the shift options in the portal and place your bids by [Deadline]. 

Shift swap confirmation.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], your shift swap request for [Shift Date] [Shift Time] with [Colleague’s Name] has been approved. Please ensure you both communicate any necessary details. Thanks.

Shift reminder.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name]. You’re rostered on to work the [Shift Date] [Shift Time]. Please arrive on time. Thank you.

Temp agency request.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], reaching out on behalf of [Company name] to see if you’re available to take on a shift on [Day] from [Time] to [Time] at their [Location] site. Day rate is [Rate]. Are you interested?

Shift assignment confirmation.

TEMPLATE: Great news, [Name]. You’re scheduled to work on [Shift Date] at [Shift Time]. See you there. 

Shift swap rejection.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], unfortunately we couldn’t approve your shift swap request for the [Shift Date] at [Shift time] with [Colleague’s Name]. We appreciate your understanding. 

Shift schedule update.

TEMPLATE: Hey team. We’ve updated the shift schedule. Please review to ensure you have the latest information and know when you’re working next. 

Shift assignment change notification.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], your shift schedule has changed. You’re now assigned to work on [Shift Date] at [Shift Time]. Please plan accordingly. Thank you.

Open shift notification.

TEMPLATE: Hey team, we have an open shift for [Shift Date] at [Shift Time] due to unforeseen circumstances. If you’re available and interested, reply Y as soon as possible. Thank you. 

Get started with SMS for shift rostering.

Now that you’ve seen how easy it is for everyone to manage shifts, why not give it a try?

Contact us and experience the difference it makes to your business and your staff


SMS for rostering or shift bidding is a system that uses SMS to enable employees to request, bid, or receive notifications about available shifts using their mobile phones.

If a shift becomes available, you can send an SMS to all employees, who can then respond if they want to bid for the shift. Shift assignments or bidding results can then be communicated back to employees via SMS.

Employees can easily send an SMS indicating their shift preferences, availability, or bidding preferences, too.
SMS is a convenient and instant communication channel for everyone involved in the shift scheduling process, including both employees and HR. It also helps to:
  • Increase transparency when allocating shifts
  • Improve employee engagement and flexibility
  • Reduce scheduling conflicts
  • Streamline the overall rostering process
You sure can, but just note that it comes with some limitations (for example, two-way messaging may not be possible). Instead, we recommend choosing a new dedicated number — this way, you can easily send and receive texts, all within our messaging Hub.
Yes, particularly regarding data protection, privacy, and obtaining consent from employees to receive SMS communications. It’s important to follow the relevant laws and regulations.
To avoid sending spam, you must:
  1. Have consent from the person receiving your messages.
  2. Identify yourself as the sender by accurately identifying your name or business name.
  3. Make it easy to unsubscribe – every commercial message must contain an unsubscribe option.
Personalisation is key. Make it clear who the message is coming from (so, include your business or team name) and also include employee details if appropriate. Remember, SMS isn’t the time or place to ask for sensitive information, either.
To ensure the privacy and security of our customers and their information, Sinch MessageMedia utilise a layered approach to protection through multi-factor authentication, encryption at rest and in transit, in addition to need-to-know and granular access controls. This ensures that customer data is protected and only accessible to those with a requirement to do so in delivery of their services.

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