How to Roster Staff Effectively

Man rostering staff effectively

Are you feeling weighed down with rostering admin? If you are, it sounds like it’s time to rethink your approach.

Offering an efficient, flexible rostering system can be a powerful way to create efficiencies, no matter the size of your business. When preparing your next roster, use this checklist to save time, money and frustration:

Think through the roster without individual names

Work out the allocation of shifts and responsibilities, then cost it according to hourly wage rates. When that’s done, add the names of suitable people for different shifts. This is ‘role rostering‘ rather than the traditional method that builds a roster around the requests of individuals and their busy social lives. Role rostering puts the business first.

Rostering requires both sides of the brain

Left-brain people pay attention to order and accuracy, while right-brain people are more focused on creativity and feelings. Whoever does the roster should have a good eye for detail and an understanding of the personalities within an organisation. Roster errors and omissions create upsets you don’t need.


A good roster shares the best shifts

For waiters and bar staff, some days offer better tips. For other staff, some shifts are easier, and late shifts or busy days can be hard work. Staff will handle this if the rewards and burdens are shared fairly and favouritism is avoided.

Busy shifts need the best staff

Sometimes experienced staff or managers gravitate to an easier, day-time schedule – maybe because they write the roster! It may also be because management rewards are not connected to the performance of busy shifts, e.g. when managers are cut out of tip sharing. All staff should know how the business works during days, nights, weekends, and weekdays.

Flexibility is part of modern work life

This is where online rostering has an advantage because time-off requests and availability can be handled automatically. Business needs are a priority, but if you keep denying or forgetting requests for time off or changes, staff are likely to call in ’sick’ and eventually move elsewhere.


Costing rosters should be part of writing rosters

Traditionally, the functions have been separate, and the bad news on wage costs is only revealed after the week is finished. Modern rostering shows wage costs as the roster is written, giving accurate forecasts and budget control.


Start the roster week on a busy day

Typically, rosters are written Monday to Sunday, from the quietest to the busiest days. But if the week is slow and by Wednesday you decide to start trimming hours, chances are they’ll be taken from the weekend, when you need to be fully staffed to make money. By starting the roster week on a Thursday, you also overcome the ‘end of a long week’ slump. The payroll days can still match the calendar or accounting week, but rostering is about resource allocation.


Everyone needs two days off

There’ll be times when you need someone to do double shifts, extra days or back-to-back. But regular rostering for more than 5 days per week leads to loss of performance and burnout. If you have someone insisting on constant long hours, they may have financial problems that are being put ahead of the business – avoid this shortcut even if it seems convenient.


Allow staff to check their roster without calling in

Managers can prepare the roster from anywhere when it’s all done online. You can then notify staff by SMS or email, and allow them to accept shifts or request changes automatically. The more this can be handled without phone calls or visits, the more time you have for important work like training and marketing.


Allow staff to plan their lives

There are legal requirements for how far in advance rosters must be displayed. More importantly, a roster that’s displayed at least four weeks in advance allows staff to plan their lives and achieve more of the work-life balance we all aspire to. Many managers fear that a roster displayed well in advance will need endless rewriting as the weeks progress. But once you automate the time-off request and shift-change system, you’ll find that rostering doesn’t need to be an endless drama with erasers and white-out.

To find out how rostering software can benefit your business, book a demo with Ento today.

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