Constant changes, last minute call-ins, being understaffed and unfair rotations: these can all lead to staff members feeling disgruntled and unsatisfied with their working days. But you can change this.
Read on to learn how to identify and deal with common staff scheduling issues.
Address staff turnover and employee availability
Shift work can be unsettling at the best of times. For those working in the retail, hospitality or the healthcare industry, this is something to be expected.
But constant staff turnovers and poor employee availability is a serious complaint which, when left unaddressed, can cause disruption and dissatisfaction within your workforce.
To bring the best out of your workforce, create a fair rota based around everyone's needs. This will help improve employee retention and happiness by creating a working balance across your staff.
Manage time between rotations and prevent over-scheduling
Unsteady work, long periods of time between rotations, or the opposite— over-scheduling— are all complaints you need to watch out for.
No one wants to work back-to-back shifts for days on end, then wonder when their next shift will be. Routine is important, as it enables your staff to plan their leisure time around work. By providing shift security you can improve staff morale and create a relaxed and fulfilling team environment.
But how much time should you give between shift rotations?
Arguably, it's best to give your staff a day between shift rotations. Anywhere between 12 hours and 24 hours is a reasonable guide.
Realistically, it depends on how long the rotation is: the longer the shift rotation, the longer the break. This of course may not be possible, particularly in healthcare environments, where those being cared for need to come first. In this case, look at what different types of shift patterns are available, then collaborate with staff to create a rotation which suits both them and the workplace.
Cover unusual periods of activity
The nature of shift work means there will always be busy periods and quiet ones. That’s why it's important to find the right balance of staff for these occasions.
This is where a data-led approach can come in handy. Gather daily visitor numbers by using data gathering software or by looking at transactions gathered from your till. You can then use this information to identify peak visitor hours and ensure you have enough staff on the floor for these periods. The opposite applies for quieter hours where you can then keep things light.
Consider the timing of local events
Of course, it is important to be flexible. Keep an eye out for local events that may affect customer numbers during usually quiet hours, or may reduce customers during usually busy hours.
This way you can ensure you always have the correct number of staff on the floor for any given period of time. This can reduce employees feeling overworked and undervalued, while helping to improve efficiency and business performance.
Prevent last minute changes and disorganisation
Regardless of how dedicated your staff are, they can still fall ill. If so, they should not come into the workplace and risk infecting other members of staff. In a retail, healthcare and hospitality-based industry this can lead to gaps in staffing. Occasional last-minute changes through illness or unavailability can be accepted by your staff, but if this happens routinely it is most likely a sign of disorganisation.
The problems with manual scheduling
Carefully crafted spreadsheets or handwritten timetables can seem great to start with, but can quickly become out of date and disorganised. This can lead to mistakes. For example, staff members may arrive late or not turn up at all because they have misread the rota, or not received notifications of any changes.
A fair rota should keep everything simple, clear and easy to edit. A staff member should be able to quickly see when their shifts and receive notifications if shifts have changed.
By using a rota scheduling software that enables staff to easily collaborate and arrange to switch shifts with notifications that get sent to all staff members. This can ease the burden of ringing up people at the last minute for cover.
Consider implementing predictive scheduling
Implementing predictive scheduling means publishing rota schedules by at least two weeks in advance. Partner it with a list of agreed employees who are flexible if staff do fall ill or become unavailable.
Last minute changes are inevitable, but this can make it easier for staff to swap shifts with one another, with plenty of time to make sure everyone is aware of any changes. Doing so will mean less complaints can be had, as everyone will understand their place in the situation.
Manage overtime considerately
Occasionally you may have to ask your staff to work overtime due to busy periods, or unexpected absences, for example. However, too much of it can negatively impact your staff.
As a rule, it’s important to try and keep your staff’s overtime to as little as possible. You can do this by monitoring staff hours and setting maximum working hours. Alongside this, you can also discuss overtime pay or extra time off in lieu with staff.
Within reason, this can help alleviate the burden of overtime with the promise of reward, with additional holiday a great way to incentivise employees while also ensuring they get needed rest between shift patterns.