Best practices for scheduling employees efficiently

For some businesses to be successful, they need to work outside of the traditional 9 to 5 schedule. Many industries, including retail, hospitality, and the customer service sector, make use of shifts. 

A helpful rule of thumb is if your opening times dictate that not all your staff should work at the same time, it is a good idea to schedule work in shifts. 

And, because these workers may not have usual set hours, they will depend on a reliable rota to tell them when they need to be at work.

Why do you need a fair rota?

For shift-based businesses, creating a fair rota is the key to success. 

When shifts aren’t shared out reasonably, you risk unhappy employees underperforming or requesting last-minute leave. To make matters worse, a 2014 report by the Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) found that shift workers are more likely to report poor health.

Instead of being caught off-guard and understaffed, take a closer look at your staff rota. 

Is it fair? If you put yourself in the shoes of your staff, would you be satisfied with your shift hours?

If you answered no to either of the above questions, you have come to the right place. It is not an easy task to perfect your staff rota week after week. 

We have pulled together the top tips to guide you through the process. By the time you have finished reading, you will be equipped with all the knowledge you need to create a fair rota that meets the needs of your business and your workforce.

So now we know why it is important to build a fair rota, how do we start? 

Realise your resource requirements

When building a rota, the first step is to gain a full understanding of your resource needs. Think carefully about what is best for your business and customers. 

For example, if you run a restaurant, determine how many front-of-house and kitchen staff you need on any given day. 

If weekdays are quieter but you are fully booked at the weekend, make sure you account for this when thinking about how many staff members you need. 

You don’t want too many employees turning up when you don’t need them, and not enough when you do!

At this point, it is also sensible to establish when your busy peaks will be, and plan for them accordingly. 

For instance, if you run a hotel and the local stadium is hosting a big game, you should organise your staff in advance. This means you can sort out any issues that arise in plenty of time.

Take into account employee wellbeing

Not only do you need to consider your business’ needs, but what will keep your employees happy. This will also help to improve staff retention. 

A happy workforce is an efficient one. But managing a business is tough, and the happiness of your employees can sometimes end up at the bottom of the list of priorities. 

Employee wellbeing is essential to a successful business, with a report by Business in the Community (BITC) showing that 2 in 5 employees have experienced poor mental health symptoms due to work in the last year.

Fortunately, improving employee wellbeing could be as simple as adjusting your staff rota.

The employee schedule affects staff more than you may think. If your business is open from mid-morning until late at night, it is probably best to allow your staff to recuperate between shifts. 

Imagine working until late into the evening, commuting home and winding down before bed and then have to get up early to be in work again the next morning. It would be very easy to burn out. To avoid this, spread workers’ shifts across the rota so they have sufficient breaks. 

We bet you will notice a big difference in staff attitudes towards work, as well as their overall performance.

Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses

If some of your staff members are more skilled or experienced than others, it’s best to make sure each employee is doing the most suitable task for their ability.

Do certain shifts need a higher level of skill than others? Do other shifts need someone who is more efficient?

For example, if a new starter is scheduled to arrive, ensure you put a worker on shift that is capable of training and mentoring the new employee. Identify your skilled staff members and utilise them to benefit the business.

It is equally important to determine the weaknesses of your staff members. 

If one employee isn’t great at maths, for example, it’s probably not a good idea to let them cash up at the end of the day. 

However, it is also important not to confuse weaknesses with learning how to carry out a task. Some staff members may just need practice with a task, so take this into consideration while building your rota.

Prepare for last minute changes

To avoid last minute adjustments to the rota, it is always a good idea to ask your staff what their availability is like first. 

For instance, if some staff members have children, they may not be able to commit to a shift that clashes with the school run. 

People have responsibilities outside of work that at times can’t be avoided. It’s best to let employees be open and honest about the shifts they are able to do before you start to help avoid sudden dropouts.

But sometimes, last minute adjustments just cannot be avoided. 

Ensure you make allowances for this and have a method of communicating with all your staff in one place. 

Employee scheduling tools like Findmyshift are the ideal platform for building your rota, as well as sharing it with all your staff.

Measure success

When these unavoidable changes do occur, it is incredibly important to make a note of them for future reference. 

Creating the perfect rota is a learning curve, but you won’t learn a thing if you don’t measure its success. 

Building a schedule is repetitive work, although templates can make it far easier, so frequently evaluating the success of your rota can be hugely beneficial in improving it in the future. The end of a shift schedule period is the perfect opportunity to review how things are going.

This is another advantage of employee scheduling technology. From one software platform you can create your rota, share it with your staff, and assess the efficiency of the rota via automatically generated reports.

Pleasing everyone—made simple

Scheduling your employees doesn’t have to be complicated and time-consuming. While there is a lot to take on board to create a rota, it needn’t be a daunting task. 

In the digital world we live in today, there is technology available to help you craft a rota that pleases everyone.

Utilising employee scheduling software like Findmyshift enables you to improve work efficiency, reduce costs and maximise business productivity. Gone are the days where hours are poured into schedules on a daily basis. 

Features like resource forecasting, integrated time and attendance, employee profiles, communication tools, and analytics all help you to navigate the task simply and effectively.


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