How to make a fair rota for your workplace

4 min read  |   27 July, 2020   By Nick Hardy

Two baristas are stood outside of a coffee shop and high fiving. One is wearing a bright red apron and the other is wearing a dark blue one.

We understand that creating a rota is a tough task at the best of times, especially when there’s illnesses, annual leave and unexpected absentees to contend with. However, that doesn’t mean you should put off creating a rota that works for all your staff members. 

Whether you’re in retail, healthcare or hospitality, a rota is essential in keeping the wheels of your workplace slick. It also helps ensure your staff are happy and content in their roles. 

By wanting to implement a fair rota you are making the conscious decision to put the needs of the people you work with first. So read on and find out how you can make your next rota a fair one.  

What makes a rota ‘fair’?

Why you should make a fair rota?

Three benefits of a fair rota system

Five tips for creating a fair rota

What makes a rota 'fair'?

A fair rota system is one that aims to be inclusive, accommodating, non-preferential and balanced. Your rota schedule should be created to ensure all employees are always treated equally, while also taking into consideration what is good for the workplace as a whole.

This is where a fair rota excels in comparison to the adoption of a poor shift pattern, which shows favouritism in time allocation and distributes changes in working hours at the very last minute. 

Why you should make a fair rota?

A workplace thrives under a fair rota system. We should create them because they can help employee engagement, attentiveness and wellbeing. This has the positive effect of reducing workplace stress for employees by helping staff feel valued and not overworked.

If you regularly notice issues being flagged—such as certain individuals always getting poor shifts, unbalanced workloads, or staff shortages during the busiest hours—a poorly constructed rota is a likely cause. Similarly, the opposite will happen during the most quiet ones for your business.

Chef and customer laughing in restaurant

Three benefits of a fair rota system

There are a number of benefits that come along with implementing a fair rota system, but the key ones are: 

1. Everyone should get a fair deal

Staff should have a balanced mix of favourable and unfavourable shifts. No one should constantly work shifts they dislike, or get their favourite shift every week over another member of staff.

2. It can make the most of your budget

This can help the workplace function at optimal efficiency, with employees working without feeling burnt out and undervalued. You will also have the right staff available at the right times. In the busiest hours you will have enough staff to run smoothly, and when it’s quiet you will only have the staff that you need.

3. Get exactly the right mix of people

Different situations require different qualities, and therefore, different members of staff. Make sure you always have the correct staff at hand with a fair rota. 

How can we make fair rotas?

Now that we’ve established what a fair rota is, it’s important to understand how to go about making a fair rota.

Employees in a cafe checking their rota

Five tips for creating a fair rota

1. Think about how you can make things fair for your employees

Ask them honest questions about availability. Bear in mind they may say yes just to make you happy, so challenge this. 

2. Be honest

Not everyone can have the shifts they want all the time, but ensure you consider how you can rotate shifts. This will mean everyone can take part in a shift pattern that works for them.

3. Show no favouritism when creating the rota

Just because you may be friends with certain members of staff, it is no reason to give them preferential shifts.

4. Don’t hand shifts out at the last minute 

Instead, plan shifts weeks ahead but allow room for flexibility. You cannot predict what the future holds, but staff will appreciate the security in knowing exactly when they are working and are able to plan their free time around it.

5. Use a data-based approach 

By analysing when there are the most customers, visitors or calls coming into your workplace, you can always be prepared with the right amount of staff on hand. This also means that when things are at their least busiest, you are not over staffed and can save money.

simple rota software for SMEs cta image

Author: Nick Hardy

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