OptaPlanner continues as Timefold

Employee scheduling

Building effective Employee Scheduling solutions is a challenging task that requires careful consideration of various constraints and factors. At Timefold, we understand the complexities involved in managing employee schedules and offer software builders the necessary tools to tackle this optimization problem efficiently.

What is Employee Scheduling?

Employee Scheduling, also known as Workforce Scheduling, is the process of creating and managing work schedules for employees in an organization. The goal is to generate an optimized schedule that meets operational requirements, employee preferences, and other constraints while maximizing productivity and minimizing costs.

Variations of Employee Scheduling

Employee Scheduling manifests in different variations, each tailored to specific industries and scheduling needs. Some notable variations include:

  • Fixed Shift Scheduling: Assigning employees to predefined shifts based on their availability and skill set.

  • Flexible Shift Scheduling: Allowing employees to choose their shifts within certain constraints, promoting flexibility and work-life balance.

  • Demand-Driven Scheduling: Adjusting employee schedules based on fluctuating customer demand to ensure optimal staffing levels.

  • Task-Based Scheduling: Assigning employees to specific tasks or projects based on their skills and availability.

  • Multi-Site Scheduling: Managing employee schedules across multiple locations or branches of an organization.

  • Skill-Based Scheduling: Optimizing schedules by considering employees' skills and qualifications required for specific tasks or positions.

  • Preference-Based Scheduling: Incorporating employee preferences and constraints, such as preferred shifts, days off, or consecutive work hours.


Employee Scheduling involves dealing with various constraints that must be considered to create an optimal schedule. These constraints can be categorized as hard constraints and soft constraints.

Hard Constraints

Hard constraints represent limitations or requirements that must be adhered to.

They are essential for ensuring operational feasibility and complying with organizational policies. Failure to satisfy a hard constraint would render the schedule infeasible or violate legal regulations.

Examples of hard constraints in Employee Scheduling:

  • Shift coverage: Ensuring sufficient staff coverage for each shift to meet operational demands.

  • Availability: Accommodating employees' availability preferences and constraints, such as part-time availability or certain days off.

  • Qualifications: Assigning employees with the required skills and qualifications to specific tasks or positions.

  • Workload limits: Limiting the number of hours or consecutive shifts an employee can work to prevent fatigue and ensure work-life balance.

  • Labor regulations: Complying with labor laws and regulations regarding rest periods, maximum working hours, and break durations.

Soft Constraints

Soft constraints represent preferences or optimization objectives.

While not mandatory, meeting soft constraints improves employee satisfaction and overall schedule quality. Deviating from soft constraints incurs penalties but does not render the schedule infeasible.

Examples of soft constraints in Employee Scheduling:

  • Employee preferences: Considering employee preferences for specific shifts, days off, or consecutive workdays.

  • Fairness: Ensuring equitable distribution of desirable shifts or work hours among employees.

  • Employee skills and preferences alignment: Matching employees' skills and preferences to tasks or positions whenever possible.

  • Minimizing overtime: Optimizing schedules to minimize the need for overtime or extra shifts, reducing costs and fatigue.

Complexity of Solving Employee Scheduling

Solving the Employee Scheduling problem is computationally complex due to the combinatorial nature of the problem and the multitude of constraints involved. As the number of employees, shifts, and constraints increases, finding an optimal solution becomes more challenging.

How Timefold Can Help

At Timefold, we provide software builders with a powerful solver that addresses the complexities of Employee Scheduling. Our solution leverages advanced algorithms and optimization techniques to generate efficient and optimal schedules, taking into account all relevant constraints and objectives.

With Timefold, you can:

  • Improve operational efficiency: Our solver optimizes employee schedules to ensure adequate coverage, minimize conflicts, and reduce idle time, resulting in enhanced productivity and cost savings.

  • Streamline scheduling processes: Timefold automates the scheduling process, eliminating manual effort and reducing the chances of errors or oversights. This allows you to allocate your resources effectively and focus on other critical aspects of your business.

  • Accommodate complex constraints: Our solver handles various hard constraints such as shift coverage, employee availability, qualifications, and labor regulations. Additionally, it efficiently manages soft constraints like employee preferences, fairness, and minimizing overtime, enabling you to create schedules that satisfy both organizational requirements and employee preferences.

  • Real-time adaptability: Timefold can handle dynamic changes in demand, employee availability, or unexpected disruptions. It can quickly generate revised schedules in real-time, helping you respond effectively to unforeseen events or operational adjustments.

  • Integrate seamlessly: Our solution can be easily integrated into your existing software infrastructure, ensuring a smooth implementation process and enabling seamless collaboration with other systems and tools. By utilizing Timefold, software builders can harness the power of our sophisticated solver to create optimized employee schedules that enhance operational efficiency, employee satisfaction, and overall business performance.

Download our Open Source code or contact us today to explore how Timefold can revolutionize your Employee Scheduling processes.