You won’t make it onto the cover of Forbes for planning a great rota. You won’t get the attention of your C-suit seniors or win the Manager of the Year Award for it either. Staff scheduling is one of those bread-and-butter jobs you have to do when your business isn’t achieving its goals, but it’s more powerful than you think. Handled well, your roster will deliver impressive staff retention and productivity rates. It’ll touch everything from lead generation to order fulfilment because you can’t separate efficiency and morale.
A balanced roster is a fair roster, especially if your schedule includes night shifts and weekends. Chronic disruption causes impulsivity, slow thinking, and poor problem-solving. None of those traits will earn you any profits, so you need a data-driven, impartial, and balanced approach to planning. Fortunately, the rostering software market has everything you need.
Why Balance Matters
Can a simple roster help you reach your goals? Absolutely. Just ask the thousands of businesses who’ll be shifting to remote scheduling in a post-COVID world. Hard lockdown forced workers to plan their own home-based rosters. The results were a resounding success. Seventy-seven per cent of the workforce said they were more productive when they had the power to plan their own work schedules. HR teams need to replicate that experience on-site by giving staff a forgiving routine that offers rhythm and plenty of rest.
The night shift increases human error incidents by 30%–a number no organisation can afford. A fair roster allocates tough shifts evenly so that staff have plenty of time to recover. That rarely happens because enterprises tend to reward the squeakiest wheels. Those who complain the loudest get the easiest hours, so silent, conscientious employees are inevitably treated the worst. The effects go far beyond night-shift insomnia. Demanding shift schedules lead to work-family conflict. When relationships break down, resentment skyrockets and morale sinks. Miserable employees are ineffective employees. Exhaustion also corrodes decision-making skills, sucking the managerial talent out of your leadership.
How to Balance Your Roster
Studies show that the more you synchronise 24-hour periodicity, the better. A seven-day shift rotation can alter circadian rhythms permanently, so on-off schedules send rhythms out of whack. Light-dark cycles must be enhanced across your entire staff complement.
Weekly clockwise rotations achieve that. They let the body return to its natural rhythms gently, improving productivity and job satisfaction while sharing tough shifts evenly across all your employees. These schedules should be consistent or your staff will suffer negative effects. A three-week rotation also encourages adjustments, but some companies shorten their cycle to three days, with three recuperative days at the end of each six-day sequence. This way, it becomes easier to reset biological clocks while enforcing breaks when circadian rhythms are at their most impaired.
Put simply, shifts must be regulated for all staff if you’re to achieve balance for each individual. Night shifts can only be minimised across the board if rosters are planned evenly. A fair rota system treats all staff equally, without favouritism. Great software tools can automate your shift cycles according to staff roles and locations, so even multinational companies can use them. The benefits are far-reaching.
- Every employee is treated fairly because unwanted shifts are spread evenly throughout the staff complement.
- Your workplace operates at its optimal efficiency.
- You can add weight to your staff allocations on weekends and other busy periods.
- You can plan just the right collection of skills for each shift.
How to Build a Fair Rota
It’s hard to overcome your own scheduling biases because most of them operate on a subconscious level. If you tend to change your rota at the last minute, you’re probably practising favouritism without realising it. If you’re friends with some of your staff, you probably find it harder to say no to them when they request easier shifts. That can lead to festering resentments. A data-driven approach can annihilate subconscious biases while achieving the perfect mix of skills for each shift.
Automation and Your Business
Role-based planning is the smartest automation in the software market. It lets you build a strategy that serves your unique requirements. Each time you input data into your system, you create a template that will automate that input on a larger scale later. Great software will give you the power to create a large number of templates for date ranges and shift requirements. If you’re under a lot of time pressure, you’ll need a great interface, too. Drag-and-drop functionality lets you set up your shifts in mere moments. Clear visual data lets you assess your rota at a glance, making scheduling gaps easy to spot. Cloud-based systems take those abilities to new heights by allowing you to share your schedule with staff in a click. Effective rotas:
- Are easy to create.
- Allow quick adjustments.
- Make data-driven decisions about shift preferences by giving staff who prefer night shifts the schedules they enjoy.
- Can allocate the right staff numbers for quiet periods.
- Can be set up weeks or months in advance.
- Are instantly sharable.
Your Staff Needs
A balanced employee scheduling software tool is as user-friendly for staff as it is for leadership. It should be flexible, accurate, and easy to access from home. You’ll also need a clear notification system to prevent staff shortages. Last-minute absenteeism is easy to deal with if staff members can switch shifts of their own accord, so look for a tool that’s adjustable on both ends.
Pen and paper are moot in a well-run HR department, so it’s time to throw those shift books away. Staff scheduling has become a turbocharged version of its former self, and profits are following swiftly. Welcome to the 21st century. It’s efficient, fair and profitable.