Duty roster: what it is, + 6 tips to plan like a pro

Time and Attendance

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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an historical duty roster is a “roster of a military unit showing what duties (as guard and kitchen police) each person has performed”.

But how does a duty roster relate to workforce management solutions, and how does it benefit for-profit companies?

Let’s take a look.

Types of duty rosters

There are generally three main types of employee rosters that are used across various industries:

  1. Duty rosters are for managers who need to avoid over-shift scheduling. This type of roster is used to avoid scheduling more employees than is needed on the same shift to do the same things. It’s typically used in the hospitality industry.
  2. Flexible rosters are for staff who are able to work flexible hours; their start and end shift times may vary.
  3. Staggered rosters are used in industries that experience fluctuations in the day: some times are busier than others, so managers will stagger start and end times so that customers will not need to wait longer when the business experiences peak hours. For example, for some restaurants, more waiters will be needed at lunch time than at breakfast time. This kind of planning needs historical data from workforce management software that helps management identify trends.

Tips to creating optimised duty rosters

Get started with optimising duty rosters that support the goals of the business with these tips:

#1: Plan first, add names later

Put the business first by allocating shifts and responsibilities by hourly rate, and only then add names of people who have the necessary skills, taking into account any individual requests.

Download your free copy of an Excel Scheduling Template if you’re just getting started with staff schedules.

Workforce management software is a scheduling tool that makes this step easy, because it has a database of all personnel details like contact details, wages, skills, qualifications and so on.

Duty Roster Planner

#2: Use the most skilled staff for busiest periods

Workforce management software has the ability to alert managers when a shift is understaffed, or to provide reports that show workforce trends in each location where your staff are based. This helps you adequately prepare for the busiest times of day.

Fill shifts of the busiest periods with the most skilled workers, to avoid any service bottlenecks.

In workforce management software, once you’ve allocated personnel, you have the ability to move to “Automatic Scheduling”. Rostering rule exceptions contrary to shift patterns can be done manually.

#3: Define time-off rules

Create a time-off process and communicate it regularly to your staff members. This includes how time-off must be requested and by when. Stick to the process unwaveringly, or you will be sorry!

Once everyone is clear about time-off rules, it will be a lot easier to manage.

Be sure to also set up a policy about overlapping requests; this will be especially important over holiday periods.

Entering time-off requests in a workforce management system makes it a lot easier to keep organised and error-free. In addition, a good digital system can be customised around business rules.

Time Off Rules

#4: Keep an eye on wage costs as you build the duty roster

Keeping an eye on forecasted wage costs as you build the duty roster will keep your budget intact.

In workforce management software, reports are able to show assigned tasks with wage costs, for accurate forecasting and budget controls.

#5: Start the roster week on the busiest day

To avoid under-scheduling during times you need the most workers, start the roster week on the busiest day, instead of on a Monday, or you may be tempted to cut down on workers on slow days.

#6: Self-service cuts down wasted time

Prepare the duty roster with enough time for staff to view it and make their own arrangements to accommodate their shifts. Using technology for shift scheduling allows managers to upload the roster online so that employees can view their schedules, without needing to get in touch with their manager.

By creating time-off request processes and communicating them regularly, staff will know by when they need to request leave. Requests can all be done through an app on your staff’s mobile devices.

Time and Attendance

How does workforce management software help?

There are many benefits to implementing technology like EasyRoster to take over the most frustrating rostering tasks; for example, if you need to schedule workers at a few different locations, the system makes the process easier because everything’s already in the system, and can be viewed on one screen.

Software removes the frustrations associated with setting up duty rosters and scheduling shifts while at the same time, keeping costs to a minimum.

Workforce management software does the most time consuming tasks for you, removes frustration, increases productivity and reduces expenses.

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