Small companies often roster manually by creating spread sheets which have been adapted to service specific workplace needs. This becomes complex and time consuming for larger companies who use a bigger workforce; they need to incorporate a wide range of pay rates, Award conditions and other financial factors.

Companies with a large workforce use specially designed software to roster; it saves time by efficiently incorporating the large amount of information required to process the many varied factors that constantly need to be considered.

Staff numbers and Costing are very important:

While sufficient staff must be rostered to maintain a standard of service that protects the reputation of the business, it must be remembered that wages make up a large component of the cost of running most companies.

A good example of this is the hospitality trade where a split of 30% for wages, 30% costs of goods sold, 30% for other overheads such as rent and power, and a 10% profit margin, have been the general guideline used and understood. However, over the years wages and the price of food and rent have risen and unfortunately it is often the profit margin that suffers as restaurateurs are reluctant to raise the price of their meals above those of their competitors. They also have to absorb the changing market that now has embraces ‘fast food’.

In 2005 a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 63.4% of small restaurants made less than 2% profit. Restaurants and many other industries are acutely aware of the cost of overstaffing and have attempted to adapt by employing labour on a casual basis. Consequently labour costs vary from week to week.

When establishing a budget, most companies will set these variations as fixed percentages overall. Many companies factor approximately 25% labour costs. This must include the owners wage if the company is owner-operator and also tax, superannuation and leave loading.

Another consideration when budgeting, is direct labour (the people actually providing the service), and indirect labour (perhaps managers and admin staff or the plumber). Indirect labour can be budgeted as part of the overall costs of the business.

Staff levels, service standards and productivity:

If standards of service slip, through stringent trimming of man power, in order to cut costs, the reputation of the business soon suffers. Therefore staffing levels must be efficient, effective and economic.

This can be done by predicting the volume of business and work to be done and drawing on previous experience. For example if a wildlife park expects 2000 visitors through their gate on ‘Mother’s Day’, which is almost twice the average for any other Sunday in that month, extra admissionstaff, entertainment staff and catering staff will be needed.

Staff feeding and cleaning out the animals, will remain at about the same levels. Productivity and service standards are set by management, and the nature of the business.

Both always directly influence staff levels on the roster; an example of this in the restaurant trade : cafes employ one waiter per 25 covers, a function venue (perhaps for a buffet service) employ one waiter for 20 covers, silver service or fine-dining employ one waiter for 12 -15 covers. Kitchen staff that are needed to support these workers will also vary.

The volume of customers using these services varies at different times of the day and days of the week. Accurate data needs to be collected over a long period of time for any business with fluctuating trade, so that effective and economical rostering can provide sufficient staff for optimum service at optimum operational cost.

More about Special Requirements and Fluctuating Business Volume:

Businesses often launch a new service or product with an extensive advertising campaign. This leads to a boost in customer interest and staff must be rostered on to cope with the surge in trading. Special events, for example conferences or cultural activities exclusive to the area (or type of business), can also affect the volume of trade. As can a simple thing like the weather or the general economic climate, or even the price of oil.

A clever manager is constantly aware of these factors and how they might reflect on his or her business, and influence the amount of staff that needs to be rostered onto each shift.

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