Blog: What you should know about staff rostering

If there’s one indelible fact about staff rostering, it’s this: it’s almost always more complicated than you think it’s going to be. But there are some tips to help make the process simpler, writes Chris Power.

If there’s one indelible fact about staff rostering, it’s this: it’s almost always more complicated than you think it’s going to be. But there are some tips to help make the process simpler, writes Chris Power.

Making sure your operating hours are adequately staffed while taking into account complicated awards and EBAs, availabilities, clashing shifts and the inevitable shift swaps is often nothing short of a nightmare.

If creating your rosters is causing you grief, here are five things to remember:

1. Getting it wrong can be expensive
In the past year, stories of Australian employers underpaying workers have been prominent in the media. High-profile chains Grill’d, 7/Eleven and Bing Boy, as well as a number of independent operators, have publicly come under fire for paying workers below the minimum wage.

Non-compliance with Australian workplace laws can all too easily backfire, regardless of whether it’s an accident or a deliberate attempt to exploit vulnerable workers. Making sure your rosters are accurate and are being correctly fed into your chosen payroll system is crucial.

2. Good rostering can be seriously good for morale
Casual and part-time workers often manage other commitments such as university, which can make striking a balance even more difficult. However, employers can be guilty of not taking the needs of their casual and part-time workers into consideration.

Ensure your rosters are completed well in advance (our recommendation is at least a two-week lead) to allow your staff to plan their lives accordingly. It’s a simple gesture that can make a world of difference to morale.

3. The best-laid plans often go awry
No matter how much care you take when creating your roster, something will always end up changing. Life is unpredictable, and even the best manager can’t accurately predict when a staff member will suddenly need to drop or swap a shift.

While organising swaps and filling shifts can be a headache, involving frantic phone calls and crossed fingers, it’s a fairly unavoidable part of staff rostering.

4. It’s 2016 – there’s a better way to do things
In recent years, the way we do business has changed dramatically. The advent of cloud-based software and the rise of SaaS (software as a service) companies mean that businesses of all sizes now have access to game-changing software – the likes of which were once only available to large corporations with a lot of financial backing.

Cloud-based rostering software takes a lot of the pain out of rostering. If you’re still using Excel (or even pen and paper) to create rosters, it might be time to move on.

5. Cloud-based solutions aren’t as expensive as you think
You may be reticent to employ a solution that costs money, but the reality is that your ‘free’ solution is costing you money. The many hours you spend creating your rosters, as well as the impacts of understaffing or overstaffing, are costing you money.

Time theft is costing you money. And on top of that, you have the spectre of fines and legal fees looming should you get anything wrong.

Chris Power is head of workforce management at Ento.com. Chris helps some of Australia’s largest companies (including Telstra, World Vision and Bakers Delight) to streamline their staff rostering without any frustrating spreadsheets.

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