What is Police Shift Bidding?

Employee scheduling is a challenge for any organization, but particularly challenging for public safety administrators who deal with 24/7/365 scheduling needs. Union rules, labor demands, compliance guidelines, and employee safety and fatigue concerns can make law enforcement scheduling even more challenging for administrators.

For administrators and law enforcement chiefs, handling shift bidding requests in the most fair and equitable manner is important for agency morale. Critical trust can be diminished if employees detect unfair bias in awarding shift bids to certain employees. Automated shift bidding software has the ability to take the risks out of this process for public safety agencies.

How does shift bidding work?

Shift bidding is the process where employees bid to set their regular schedules and shifts, bid for overtime opportunities or special events, and request vacation/paid time off based on agency rules and date preferences. Seniority often factors into play for shift bidding. 

Though shift bidding can be different depending on the agency you work for, the general idea of police shift bidding remains the same. Shift bidding begins with public safety administrators. The public safety administrators create the shifts they would like police officers and sheriffs to work. Once the officers and sheriffs are notified of the available shifts, they are able to select their interest in a form of a “bid”. It’s important to note that having workforce management software that includes automated shift bidding processes ensures that police officers and sheriffs are only able to view the shifts they qualify for. 

For public safety employees, shift bidding is a fair and transparent way to ensure all shifts are covered. Equal shift bidding opportunities are important to officer engagement and morale. Police officers and sheriffs work demanding jobs, so ensuring that their shifts are decided in a fair and equitable way is important. 

Why do police departments use automated shift bidding?

Automated shift bidding is an alternative method to scheduling that allows schedulers to remain in control of the scheduling process, while also giving police officers and sheriffs more autonomy over their schedules. 

person shift bidding

Are shift bidding rules standardized across every police agency?

Within each policy agency, shift bidding rules are standardized. If your agency uses an automated shift bidding system, your agency rules, seniority, safety regulations, compliance training, and union agreements will be incorporated into the shift bidding process. 

This being said, shift bidding rules differ depending on the agency. For example, some police agencies have two shift bidding dates set annually, one at the end of June and one at the end December. Other agencies, such as the Hanover Police Department, have one annual shift bidding date set. In some other cases, shift bidding is done every few months. In the case of the Connecticut State Police Department, shift bidding happens every 112 day cycle. 

Regardless of the cadence, one universal rule with police shift bidding is that seniority almost always factors into play for shift bids.

How automated shift bidding solves problems

Shift bidding can be a dreaded task for schedulers who use manual scheduling processes. Complicated excel sheets can be at risk of not formatting properly and tedious paper and pen scheduling opens up the likelihood of error. Moreover, manual shift bidding processes can create a risk of perceived favoritism in the public safety workforce. Manual shift bidding systems lack a centralized, automated way to collect and prioritize bids in compliance with agency regulations and union rules.

For these reasons, many police departments use automated shift bidding systems to save on time, cost, and reduce the chance of error. More importantly, officers and sheriffs know the automated system is fair, which further enhances their trust in the process. In the chance that an employee doesn’t want the shift they receive, they know there was no favoritism or bias in the shift selecting process. 

In summary, automated shift bidding systems can benefit your agency by :

  • Allowing your administration team to work efficiently by allowing software to do majority of the work
  • Removing all manual entries and reducing error
  • Ensuring every officer and sheriff is eligible based on agency rules
  • Defining sorting sequence based on seniority, preferences, and more
  • Removing any consequences of perceived favoritism in the workforce

Interested in automating your shift bidding system? Reach out to one of our product specialists today to learn more. 

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