Guest Blog: RotaCloud

Planning the staff rota is rarely a task that managers look forward to. Fiddly to make and often time-consuming, it’s little wonder that so many people leave their rotas until the last minute.

But did you know that the way you plan, distribute, and manage your team’s work schedules can actually have an impact on both employee morale and the rate of turnover at your business?

Today, we’re outlining three simple changes that you can make to your scheduling practices that will not only reduce the amount of time you spend on staffing-related admin, but help you retain staff for longer and provide them with a more positive employee experience…

#1: Release the rota early

For shift-based workers especially, last-minute rotas can be a real problem. In fact, it’s one of the most tweeted-about complaints that staff have about their employers.

It’s easy to understand why. Without advance notice of their shifts, it’s virtually impossible for employees to organise their private lives. Study-time; socialising; even essential things like child care are all left up in the air until staff know when they’ll be working.

There’s a simple solution for this: distribute your rotas well in advance of when they’re needed.

The sweet spot for publishing staff rotas is one to two weeks ahead of the period that it covers. Here’s why:

  • 1-2 weeks gives staff a reasonable amount of time to plan their home-lives around their shifts, thus reducing the chances that they’ll be late for work or ask you to find someone else to cover.
  • You’ll also have more time to make changes to your schedule that you might have missed in your first draft, such as an employee’s booked leave or a request for a particular shift.
  • By releasing the rota early, you’re also demonstrating that you value your employees’ time, and are setting a standard for things like punctuality and time-management.

It’s also worth trying to distribute your rotas on a set day of the week and via a fixed method of distribution, so that your team know when and how to expect their schedule.

#2: Be flexible

It might sound like a lot of extra legwork, but taking your team’s shift preferences and availability into account while planning rotas will always pay dividends in the long-run.

Start by inviting your team to communicate their working availability in advance of when you usually sit down to plan your rota. Set a deadline for this (2-3 days ahead of when you usually plan the schedule is ideal) and ask your team to tell you if there are any days or times that they’re unable to work.

It’s not always possible to accommodate every shift request, admittedly, but asking for your team’s input ahead of creating the rota will benefit your business in two ways:

First, your staff are more likely to show up for work on time and in a more positive mindset. After all, they got the shifts they asked for and haven’t been forced to make sacrifices in their personal lives for the sake of work.

Second, because your rota is based on staff availability for that particular period, you’re less likely to receive requests from staff asking for changes, leaving you with more time to spend with your customers, team, or service users.

#3: Empower your staff with self-service tools

Half of the battle when it comes to staff scheduling is finding the time to do it all.

Rather than being the sole point of contact for every shift- and leave-related question your team might have, it’s better to adopt a self-service approach and provide your staff with easy access to the info they need.

Some ways you can encourage this include:

  • Keeping rotas accessible 24/7

Whatever method you use to plan your rotas, it’s vital that the finished schedule can be accessed by each and every team member, even in your absence.

Ideally, your staff should have 24/7 access to the most up-to-date version of the rota without having to call you up, come into work to check their shifts, or contact a coworker to find out when they’re next in.

  • Streamline your annual leave process

Provide your team with a self-serve method of checking their remaining leave whenever they need to — for instance, via a read-only spreadsheet that you’ve shared with them via email, or through dedicated people management software.

It’s important that your staff also know how much leave they have left, and that they have a simple way of booking time off when they need it. Whether you require your staff to email you, fill out a leave request form, or request time off via a people management app, make sure that your team are familiar with the process for booking leave and how they’ll receive confirmation of whether their requests have been approved.

  • Allow shift swapping

Rather than having staff come to you with a shift they can’t work, consider allowing your employees to organise their own shift swaps and cover when they need to.

It’s important for you as their manager to have the final say regarding any such changes to the work schedule, but it’s better to put the onus on the employee to find cover — and give them the freedom to do so — than for them to come to you with a problem to solve.

Rota planning can be a frustrating and time-consuming activity. But by adjusting your scheduling practices and providing your team with the self-service tools that they need, it’s possible not only to reduce the amount of time you spend on staffing-related admin but to actually provide your staff with a happier, easier worklife.

RotaCloud’s people management tools are already helping more than 4,500 businesses all over the UK to do just that.

RotaCloud lets managers plan and share rotas, record annual leave, and monitor attendance quickly and easily, all from one place. It makes life easier for staff, too, who are free to check their schedules, organise shift swaps, and request annual leave all through the RotaCloud mobile app.

Speak with a member of the Norton Loxley team today to find out how RotaCloud can benefit your team and start your 30-day free trial.