Workforce Rostering – Key Things to Understand When Approaching Shift Management

Posted by Leadent Solutions on October 19, 2012

The workforce is always the driving force behind any successful business and successfully managing employee resources is always a difficult task – making sure the right people are in the right place with the right attitude. Surprisingly this is an area often that receives the least attention, as the business changes, shift management tends to stand still falling out of sync.

The reason for this varies from business to business but a common theme is limited knowledge of shift management approaches. So what shift Management approaches are available when creating a viable roster?

Static is probably the most common type of Roster, with set shift patterns and regular weekly rotations over a set period of time. The key items to look at is the driving force behind the roster, this will highlight the importance of a roster that accurately fits the business. Often this causes a deep look into current rostering methods, showing rosters from 20 years ago probably doesn’t work as well as they used to. The benefits of a focused integrated rostering solution are not to be overlooked. The solution gives your business the tools to easily handle rostering exceptions such as, unplanned absences, employee relocation and the swapping of shifts, without the need to rewrite a spreadsheet or the fuss with redistributing of hundreds of printed rosters. This is a real win for end users who may have reservations on change, alleviating this ultimately makes the solution a success throughout the business.

In today’s world, running a fast paced fluid business with an ever changing demand on employee resources, a dynamic roster is an increasingly attractive option dealing with this environment in an optimal way. Fundamentally a dynamic roster is only as good as the demand it’s built on and accurate translation of the business forces that drive your organisation. So getting those areas right can lead to benefits such as roster and protocols that properly deal with peak time demands help minimise resource idleness in quiet periods.

The Business Change Challenge – Key Things to Consider and Plan For:

The biggest business challenge when introducing a dynamic rostering solution is process change. Rostering principles are often deep routed within the business culture and resistance is likely to be high. Dealing with shift maintenance and employee exceptions will very different albeit much simpler.

Embedding cultural change at the heart of the operational business is always the key, utilising change or rostering champions from within the operation is often an excellent way to bring to the potential benefits of optimized rostering to the end user. Operational champions will understand the culture and translate the benefits in the right ‘language’. Businesses will need to plan of early involvement of end users as early as possible, while training them to realise the liberating benefits of an integrated roster system versus a mis-mash of highly complex excel spreadsheets.

Key business change challenges:

  • Never underestimate working culture in a business
  • Be sure you have a business sponsor or champion really willing to drive change – operational habit don’t change easy
  • Keep it simple
  • Be sure there’s a direct benefits list for all stakeholders
  • If there isn’t, be sure the sponsor is fully aware of where the pain will be, and help them to manage it
  • Keep all stakeholders in the loop – at all levels
  • It’s still a project – don’t forget good project discipline and governance
  • Be clear on objectives, outcomes and business benefits
  • Data collection needs planning from the start or risk serious problems later in the project cycle


As you would expect every organisation will be different facing varying challenges, but I believe these are some of the biggest bumps in the road to success and should always be in the forefront when planning the bigger picture.

Moving to centralised rostering is challenging journey in itself and we will find brand new ones once we get there, I will be sharing my thoughts on some of these challenges in the future.