Introduction Building a staff…

How to Rota Effectively (Guide)

Rota Guide


Building a staff rota is a necessary evil when it comes to running any business – but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult!

Planning a rota can have many degrees of difficulty, depending on the kinds of work schedules that your staff have. If you only have to consider a 9-5 schedule with holiday and leave management, then it’s going to be a little more simple than rotas that need to take into account shift swapping and availability week by week. This gets even more complex when bringing in freelance and agency workers, and working out payroll from the rotas you have created. Regardless, all types of rotas require some level of management, and that is something that will inevitably eat up your time. Rotas need to be entirely accurate, as they are used to pay staff, so there isn’t much room for human error.

This is made even more difficult when we take into account that in the age we are currently living in, where flexible working hours are becoming more prominent and staff might be working different hours and days every week. When we consider all of the different variants, rotas quickly become one of the most difficult workforce management tasks there is.

There aren’t many more important tasks in running a business than creating rotas, yet they are one of the things that employers enjoy the least. The need for simplified and easy rota management continues to grow by the year.

What’s the solution?

If you are struggling with the issues spoken about above, then you will be pleased to know that there is a solution to these problems. You hate creating rotas? We hear you. We are here to provide you with a way to make your life a lot easier.

Here at The Staff Port, we don’t think that rotas should be the most time-consuming task you carry out in a week. Nor do we think it should be complex, or a headache. That is why we have come up with an all-in-one digital solution to rotas, so you can save your time and focus on other vital aspects of running your business.

What Makes a Good Schedule?

At its most basic, staff rotas neet to make sure that the right staff and the right amount of staff have been scheduled to work at the right time, and that this aligns with your budget. This might sound simple and straightforward, but it can be very complex.

We know that as a manager or business owner, there are few features that you would like for your rota to have:
  • Fast to create. If you have a lot of resposinsibility over running an aspect of a business, then you probably have a lot more to organise than just a rota. This means that you are going to want to be able to build your rota quickly, as well as making sure that it’s fully accurate.
  • Enables smooth day to day operations. A good rota ensures that the right staff are on at the right time, which makes the running of your business a lot easier. This also means having staff who are adequately qualified on at the right times, so that your business is never running with less than optimal efficiency.
  • Adaptable. It’s important to plan rotas in advance, but it’s also important that they are able to be changed and adapted with the needs of your employees. For example, if someone calls in sick or requests leave, your rota will need to be changed to adapt to that.

These are the things that every good rota should have – but is it always possible to get these things from regular rota making? For most, their current rota system is not meeting these requirements, and therefore something else is required to make it work.

If there is something within your rota system that is not working for you, then it’s probably time to change something. Taking the time to find a way of scheduling that works optimally for you is going to be worth it in the long run, making your life easier and cutting the amount of time you lose using your current system.

The key kinds of rota management that exist, one of which you will be working with currently, are as follows:
  • Excel spreadsheet rotas
  • Pen and paper
  • Google sheets
  • Microsoft Word
  • Online rota management system
  • In-house rota management system

All of these options have their pros and cons, and at the end of the day it’s going to be down to personal preference and what works for your business in particular.

How to Build a Perfect Rota

Regardless of the kind of rota building you have been using in your business, the same components are going to be required in order to make it successful.

Making any rota from scratch is one of the biggest challenges you are going to face, but it has to be done if you have employees that are going to be working shifts. It might feel like the best option is to get it done quickly so it’s over and done with, but the truth is that spending more time on getting your rota right is going to lead to more success later down the line.

Step 1: Gather Your Information

The first thing you need to do is gather all of the essential information that is going to create the basis for your rota. This information includes:

  • Your budget for the coming month or quarter, and how much of this is to be spent on labour
  • Anything that is going to affect workforce requirements, such as large in-house events, holidays and local events
  • Leave that has been requested by staff
  • Employee availability
  • What kinds of workers are required for each shift, in terms of qualification and skillset
  • Minimum and maximum contracted hours per employee

What you will be left with is a framework with which you can build your rota, and an overview of who needs to be working and when.

Step 2: Build a Template

Once you have all of your information, you will ideally be able to build a rota that can be used again and again in the future, with appropriate amendments made.

Assuming that you have managed to build a rota with straightforward shift patterns, it should be able to be duplicated for future periods without a lot of effort on your part. Some adjustments will need to be made for each one of course, depending on staff availability and other factors, but having a good template that can more or less be reused is going to save you a lot of time.

Step 3: Make Amendments

Up until step 2, most rota creation methods are more or less the same in regards to error and time consumption. However, when it comes to making changes to your rota over time, this is where we begin to see the biggest discrepancies between the different kinds of formats.

The truth is that when it comes to rota creation, it’s never as simple as creating a template and reusing it over and over again – when it comes to anything surrounding working with people, there are going to be a lot of variables to take into account. This means that the rota system you choose needs to give you the tools to manage changes that need to be made, such as leave requests, unavailability, acceptance and rejection of requests, shift swaps, and ensuring that employees all have the most updated version of the rota.

These tasks are going to be varying degrees of difficult depending on what you are using to do them. With pen and paper, making amendments is going to be very time consuming, and there is a high chance for human error. With digital rotas, on the other hand, this can be minimised.

Following these three steps is undoubtedly going to make your rota planning a lot easier, but what makes the real difference is what you are using to create your rotas. When you switch from your current rota practice to a digital option that is fully cloud based and sends automatic updates to employees, your life is going to become a lot easier.

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