Our three top tips for creating awesome schedules

by | 19.07.2018
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We know creating a staff rota can sometimes feel like trying to find a needle in haystack while wearing a blindfold. It can be an impossible and thankless task.

There’s so many different elements to consider; employee requests and availability, budgeted hours, times of peak business, shift patterns, employment law...it’s no surprise that in larger organisations creating a schedule can take days if not weeks to get right. And then, without fail, it will always be changed.

Whether it’s a rota for 6 or 60 people, there will be requests to change shifts, absences and changing hours to deal with. We know how frustrating this is. When we first meet new clients we see it in their faces and hear it in their voices. The frustration come from the fact that they are losing valuable time on a regular basis managing a rota rather than managing their people and their business.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be like this. There are tools, such as workforce management software, available to you to help you create awesome schedules.

Here are our three top tips to get you started...

Staff

Let’s start with the obvious one. Your rota has to work for your staff. Whether you’re in hospitality, retail, healthcare or transportation and warehousing, if you run a shift-based business you’ll need a rota that works for your staff. Employees are demanding; they will have set hours they want to work, they’ll want to know these hours in advance and they’ll want to change them if they don’t work for them. To avoid time spent changing the rota speak to your staff and find out what hours they want to work. Work with them to find a solution that benefits both them and the business. This will ensure your staff are happier and, through enjoying work, they’ll be able to deliver more. Staff want consistent schedules, they want them in advance and they want them to be fair and reasonable. The repercussions of failing to do this can be significant, as Starbucks found out. Equally, giving your staff control over when they work can have huge impact on their lives and your business.

Time

Time is money, so the old saying goes, and this is never more true when it comes to rotas. The majority of labour costs will be controlled through the rota. Hit the sweet-spot and revenue will be maximised while costs are kept within in budget. However, over-staffing or unnecessary overtime can quickly see costs spiralling out of control. When it comes to hours, good rota management involves allocating hours to each employee, for each shift and for each week (or more if you are scheduling blocks of time in advance.) It’s imperative to know how many hours you are using and how much it is costing the business.

You can find out more about the best ways to control labour costs in our free guide which you can download here.

Customers

It might seem strange at first but customers are integral to creating a good rota. Bars are a great example of this. No one likes to be in a bar where there are more staff than customers, equally, no one wants to wait an age for a drink if there aren’t enough staff to deal with the volume of customers. To gain this insight, you need to use data to understand the nuances of your business and customers. Through this understanding you’ll be able to optimise the rota so everyone is happy and have the right people in the right place at the right time.

When it comes to creating the schedule, communication, visibility and ease of use are all key. That’s why the best workforce management systems take a mobile first approach and come complete with an app your employees can use to swap shifts, send leave requests and see when they are working

As Retail Operations Manager at GANT, Tomas Andersson, says, this utilisation of technology to empower people has had a huge impact.

Download the case study below to read the full success story from GANT.

Download customer case

“Thanks to the flexibility of the workforce management system we use, we’re able to optimise fixed schedules. This means the base for a schedule is set, which includes the number of employees at opening and closing. Thereafter, staff are added depending on needs, for example at times when sales are high and we have deliveries.

“Previously we did our scheduling in Excel. Introducing a web-based system has made a big difference and we’re so pleased. We have a much smoother scheduling process.

“What’s more, the mobile app has considerably improved the way we communicate with staff and it’s now faster and easier for us to reach employees with important information. We also communicate our schedules with staff six months in advance which makes it much easier for them to plan their spare time.”

Find out more about how to make your scheduling headaches a thing of the past in this 'on demand' webinar.

Tommy Tonkins

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