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AUTOFILL – How it Works

Don’t see the AutoFill button? Make sure you are on an UnPublished weekly view.
-Some multi-week schedule views do not have an AutoFill button.
-Your main manager may not have set your permissions to allow you to AutoFill.

WhenToWork’s AutoFill feature was developed by a team of math Ph.D.s and is the most advanced scheduling engine in the industry. Not only can the work assignments be made automatically – ensuring that no employee is assigned during their granted Time Off, Cannot Work hours, or in conflict with the maximums set, but it can also use employee “prefer and dislike times” and “Position Preferences” (skills) to optimize each weekly schedule so that it is the best possible schedule for all employees. And all of this is done in a matter of seconds with one click! You can AutoFill any unpublished schedule of shifts based on:

You can set each employee’s daily and weekly maximums for AutoFill. The system defaults to 40 hours/7 days per week and 1 shift/14 hours per day.

To change the AutoFill maximum hours/shifts/days to be the same for a number of employees:

From any page: 

  • In the top menu, click EMPLOYEES
  • If the columns for Maximum Hour/Shifts are not showing in the grid, click the “Select Columns to View” link in the upper left and check off those columns so they appear in the grid.

employees max hours shifts days for autofill

Check off employees and click the “Bulk Edit” link to edit and enter new maximums and click Save.


Click in grid to make changes and click Save.

employees edit autofill options

  • In the AutoFill Settings area, change the settings as needed. 
  • Note: if you want to allow AutoFill to assign split shifts, be sure to change the Shifts/Day to more than one. 
  • Click the Save button (or Save & Next to go to the next employee) 

The next time you use AutoFill those maximums will be used.

AutoFill can automatically assigns employees to shifts based on these maximum settings and also one of these three options: 

  • Using Equal Priorities (Default) – This is the option used by most companies – all employees are treated the same if they have entered preferences. AutoFill will assess the best schedule with everyone in mind – trying to distribute the shifts as evenly as possible within each employee’s maximum hours/shifts/days and based on their work time preferences (prefer, dislike & cannot work).

  • By Priority Group – Takes employees in Group One – gives all of them their most preferred schedule based on their work time preferences (up to their maximum hours per week) and then takes the next group and schedules them with their best possible schedule up to their maximums, etc.

  • By Seniority (Hire Date) – Takes the most senior employee (with oldest hire date) and gives them their most preferred schedule, then takes the next most senior employee and fills in with their best schedule, etc. 

You also have the option to ignore employee “prefer and dislike times” and “Position Preferences” when you AutoFill. When these are checked, AutoFill does not consider any employee “prefer” and “dislike” time preferences or position preferences that have been entered for employees.

You can AutoFill, then Clear the assignments and AutoFill again to try out the different options.

AutoFill is designed to have a somewhat randomizing effect so that if you were to repeat AutoFill for the same schedule, you may get slightly different results if no employees have entered preferences. (If any employee has entered work time preferences, then AutoFill will not schedule as randomly because it will repeatedly accommodate those few preferences added).

You can visually compare your shift assignments to current work time preferences and constraints by going to the Grid View or Sortable List view and clicking the Analyze button. 

Advanced Details

Because of its complexity, there is not a straightforward list of rules that AutoFill follows in a single line.  Instead our proprietary AutoFill algorithm balances a number of competing constraints like max hours per day/week, max shift per day, days per week, as well as time between shifts, work time preferences, position preferences, approved Time Off, number & type of positions allowed to work, and any additional priorities you choose like seniority or priority grouping. 

In general, whenever possible, AutoFill will try to give a consistent schedule (so that is why you might be seeing same employee working at same time or at same position when don’t have that many shifts).  Also AutoFill will try to equalize the *percent* of max hours per week for all employees, so if someone is scheduled to 20 hours of their max 40 hours in week that is similar to another employee scheduled to 10 hours of their max 20 hours in a week.

AutoFill has sophisticated processes that recognize when an employee can work more than one position to rearrange assignments if there are other employees only able to work a specific position, in order to minimize the number of shifts left unassigned when done.

It will never make an assignment that would conflict with certain things: approved Time Off, overlap any set ‘cannot work’ times, double-book an employee, put an employee over their set maximum constraints. 

It optimizes the assignments to ‘preferred’ work times and ‘preferred’ positions, and minimizes ‘dislike’ work times & positions whenever possible, and only assigns multiple shifts in a day when allowed and absolutely necessary (and when necessary it strives to assign consecutive shift times as much as possible).


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