Throughout Ireland, many types of organisation rely on shift patterns. It is not just in healthcare and hospitality that you will find working around the clock useful, however. This is because some manufacturing businesses operate on 24/7 basis, too. Indeed, numerous retail sector businesses and private companies that deliver public services need effective shift planning, too, even though they don’t operate day and night.
Consequently, there are different priorities and managerial requirements when it comes to rostering workforces in different sectors. Indeed, the needs of just one organisation can differ depending on the time of year. Seasonal businesses might need to rota on more staff in the summer months than the winter, for example. In addition to ensuring enough staff are on duty, many business models also rely on the ability to assign the right employees to the right shifts, for example, by ensuring enough supervisors are allocated to a particular shift. Equally, effective roster management might also mean needing to find cover for holiday schedules and sick leave, sometimes at short notice.
Balancing all of these factors is never simple. Some elements of rostering may be in conflict with others. Errors can be costly, cause dips in morale and even earn an employer a bad reputation within their industry. Rostering management aims to bring harmony to shift management processes. When it is done effectively, with the help of the modern tools available to businesses today, it can boost productivity, keep workforces happy and, perhaps most importantly of all, ensure that customers are not let down.
Given this overview of what rota management is and the challenges those who are responsible for it face, this article will now cover several aspects of rostering in greater detail. In it, you will discover more about the nuances of rostering and rota management, the pitfalls associated with traditional shift allocation methods, the concept of auto-rostering, and what automation in rota management can offer forward-thinking firms. Read on to find out more.
What is the difference between rostering and rota management?
The dictionary definition of a roster is a list of names or things. In business terms, a roster is therefore, the list of workers you will need for a particular shift pattern. Simply put, those on the list are expected to fulfil their contractual duties for that shift or working schedule while those not on it are not expected to work. In some cases, depending on the nature of the work being rostered, extra information will be given. For example, the location of the work may be listed. Who will head each department during a shift may also be specified. Some rosters will define working times while others will set the shift according to expected output levels.
In this regard, a roster is something that can change depending on work levels, the availability of staff and the number of daylight hours that may be available – for outdoor work, at least. Rota management is the process of putting together rosters in this way. In fact, there is no difference between a rota and a roster. Many people tend to use rotas to refer to fixed rosters that are the same each day, week or month. However, in reality, the two terms can be used interchangeably.
Traditional rota management – shift scheduling methods and their drawbacks
Ensuring businesses have enough staff, the right people and skills and the necessary managerial oversight in place during a shift used to mean undertaking a logistical exercise before each shift. HR managers and production executives would typically define their workforce requirements according to the workload and then fill the necessary positions by allocating individuals to tasks or roles. Often working with pen and paper, this process would be time-consuming and require significant resources in its own right. Sometimes, spreadsheets are used but these are simply digital versions of the old method. Although they are easy to share, spreadsheets are often insecure, prone to misinterpretations and don’t particularly help with regulatory compliance, as might be required within certain industries.
Another key failing of old-fashioned approaches to staff rostering is that it often causes greater burnout and stress. Why? Because allocating people to tasks as a logistical process doesn’t always take into account their absence figures, their well-being or their holiday entitlement. Only by tracking such information and using it within the rostering process can shifts be allocated in a fair way that workers trust. As a result, stress and fatigue is often higher with legacy systems.
Equally, under-resourcing shifts is a common problem with antiquated methods. Working out a rota may take hours or even days. What happens if two or three key members of staff are sick or need time off unexpectedly? Many old-fashioned techniques would mean starting over with the entire rostering process, potentially delaying the start of the shift. Modern methods are much more resilient in the face of last-minute changes. As a result, they’re more agile and able to cope with the changing needs of both workforces and customer expectations.
What is auto-rostering?
Whether it is referred to as auto-rostering or e-rostering, both terms mean systems that manage rotas through software that has been specifically designed for this purpose. It does away with the need to spend time and resources planning shifts. However, auto-rostering isn’t just there to allocate workers to shifts automatically. Easy to configure, such software can be adjusted to meet individual company needs and their shifting requirements on a shift-by-shift basis. It can also help Irish firms to deal with any unexpected alterations in the availability of workers in a much more cost-effective manner.
By reducing the time spent on shift planning, rota software doesn’t just become more effective but it helps to save valuable resources, too. In addition, better rota management should be immediately noticed by workers and firms will detect reduced absenteeism, as a result. Furthermore, Advance Systems’ auto-rostering business solution is beneficial because it uses machine learning to manage not just current workforce requirements but to predict future ones, too. As such, our rostering software can help with strategic decision-making as well as more effective shift planning.