Could a 4 Week Rolling Rota Work for Your Small Business?Perks and problems of a 4-week rolling rota 

Does your business require staff to work outside of the traditional 9-5?

Do you need team members to cover bank holidays and weekends? Or do you require increased staffing levels at certain times within a month?

If so, then a 4-week rolling rota could be a good option for you.

What is a 4 week rolling rota?

Also known as a monthly rota, a continuous rota, or a 4-week cycle rota - this kind of rota creates a fair distribution of shifts between staff members to meet the needs of your business.

The shift patterns may include early starts or night working, busier periods, or quieter periods. The shift patterns change for staff in rotation, which ensures fairness.

Each staff member will take their turn in covering the different shifts within a 4-week period. (Perhaps a series of early shifts followed by a series of late shifts.)

Every four weeks, the shift pattern cycles back around again and starts over.

Potential benefits for your business

It can make the most of your budget

First and foremost, planning a rota of this kind could help you focus on where your need for staff is greatest.

Having enough staff to cover busier periods will improve productivity, and during routinely quieter periods, it may be possible to save wage expenses by having less staff.

It’s fair

A rota system of this kind highlights that you are a fair employer who considers the needs of all their staff.

Ever had a staff member complain about unfair working hours?

Without a good rota in place, it can be easy to fall into the trap of giving favourable shifts to those who shout the loudest. Perhaps you don’t even notice you have done it?

Yet you can bet that your staff member who’s working the bank holiday again has noticed.

Unfair working conditions can be a source of anxiety, and people who suffer from anxiety or depression take more than twice as much time off work.

Absences can lead to extra wage expenses, such as overtime payments or expensive agency cover. It’s cheaper to plan better rotas that keep all your staff happy.

Holiday periods like Christmas, Easter, and Summer will rarely see staff queuing up to work.

However, staff will be more accepting of working at these times if they can see the work has been shared out and everyone takes their turn. Staff should have a balanced mix of favourable and unfavourable shifts, so everyone is ‘in it together.'

You can plan for the appropriate rest breaks more easily

According to the Working Time Regulations 1998, all staff have the right to a minimum daily rest period between each workday or shift and to a minimum weekly rest period.

Having a 4-week rolling rota can help you plan around this. And because the shift pattern rotates, once you’ve worked it out for one month, you’ve effectively worked it out for the whole year…and beyond.

Such a structured system will allow you and your staff to work out your work schedules well in advance and make plans accordingly. 

Potential problems with the 4-week rota system

It may prove too rigid

Does your organisation experience periods of unpredictable demand?

Sticking rigidly to a standard shift pattern in these circumstances may lead to issues around efficiency, productivity and employee wellbeing. You don’t want to be short staffed if things get busy.

Life can be unpredictable for your staff too. They may not always be able to commit to their rota patterns in the way you’d like them to.

Staff may struggle with the varying shift patterns required

Taking their fair share of early or late shifts may be disruptive to the circadian rhythms of your staff. Circadian rhythms are based around sleep/wake cycles and changes to these rhythms can cause sleep disorders. In turn, sleep disorders may lead to other chronic health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.


A workplace can thrive under a fair rota system, but you have to understand the needs of your business and its staff to know what is and isn’t fair.

Only you will know if a 4-week rolling rota is right for you and your business…

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