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How to ask a co-worker to cover your shift


If you want your shift covered, consider these tips before asking a co-worker, they might increase your success rate.

You know that feeling you get when you’re invited to something and you look at your schedule and you have to work? Your heart starts racing because you might die from FOMO if you can’t figure out how to get your shift covered fast, but depending on the season, it can be a challenge. Either everyone is spread thin and logically cannot cover your shifts — or everyone also wants time off, so they’re unwilling to cover your shifts. If you need that guaranteed coverage, you have to adopt a foolproof plan. Here are some best practices to increase your chances of scoring a co-worker to cover a shift.

Think ahead
If you can, plan out the time you’ll need off and start asking ahead of time. A co-worker is more likely to agree if you ask at least two weeks in advance. The theory here is, if you ask a day before or even five days before the time you need off — your co-worker is better able to visualize what they’d rather be doing than work and they’re more likely to say No. If you ask a few weeks in advance, usually people haven’t made plans yet and they can’t envision what they might have going on, so it increases the possibility of them saying Yes. And if they do say No, at least you have a few more weeks to find another target.

Do it at the right time
Timing is key — if you want a shift covered, you need to consider the person you’re about to ask. Consider things like, have they already been working all week? Avoid asking at the end of a co-worker’s work week, because at that point they might just bite your head off. The best time to ask is the first or second day they’re back from a couple days off. At this point, your co-worker is hopefully more relaxed and who knows, maybe they need some extra cash after a couple days off so the thought of picking up a shift might be more appealing.

Nothing is worse than thinking you have your shift covered only to have that person back out the day before.

Offer to swap
Swapping a shift is usually your best bet and it can be a win-win scenario. If you offer to swap shifts, the person you’re asking will feel like they’re getting something out of the trade and you’re not missing out on any income since you’re just switching shifts. You should consider what day you are asking to swap though; if you want a Monday night off and ask to swap for your co-worker’s Friday night shift, they might be compelled to say No because a Friday shift is more of a money maker than a Monday shift. Try letting your co-worker choose what day they’d want you to work for them if they’re willing to pick up your shift.

Consider who you ask
You will want to consider who you ask — you need to make sure it’s someone who can work your shift and hopefully someone you haven’t already asked a million times in the past. While that person might look forward to picking up shifts, they might also be fed up with you asking for covers. You also want to ask someone you trust will keep their word. Nothing is worse than thinking you have your shift covered only to have that person back out the day before. So once they say Yes, lock it down by informing the person who makes the schedule of the schedule change.

If all else fails… bribery
Offering to pay someone to cover your shift is a really good way to get a shift covered, but it also sucks. Not only are you losing a day of income, you’re also losing money getting someone to cover you. But if you really need that time off… this should be your last resort. People are more likely to cover for you if it’s worth it for them, so offering some extra cash on top of the money they’ll make picking up your shift might persuade them to say Yes. It can be a painful choice, but as mentioned before, if all else fails paying someone to cover for you tends to work.

Now that you have some polite tools under your belt to help get those special days covered, you never have to fear missing out again! Or if you do, I’m sure it truly isn’t the end of the world and on the bright side, you won’t be missing out on any income.

Ashley Lange

Ashley Lange likes to cook, loves to bake and is always day-dreaming of her next meal. Ashley has spent the last 10 years in various roles within the food industry and is currently a server in Portland, Oregon.

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