When most managers think of a roster system, it’s usually just about letting staff know of hours they’re expected to work. Paul on the night shift, Sally on the morning shift, John on the weekends — how difficult is it to even make the perfect roster?
Turns out, it’s extremely difficult.
Why build the perfect roster in the first place?
A ‘perfect roster’ can mean differently for various Australian businesses. There is just no one size fits all when it comes to workforce schedules.
Every Australian business aims to increase their effective profit margin. More profit means more choices, more take home pay, and less ongoing risk. And the easiest way to increase profit is to reduce the largest yet most controllable expense in a company: staff wages.
The roster, being a primary source of wage costs, is often overlooked as the single biggest opportunity to increase profit. Cross-industry research shows that rosters are under-optimised most of the time, making a massive difference to the bottom-line of a company. Without realising it, businesses are losing money due to poor shift planning everyday. One day of inefficient rostering can set a budget off-balance, which managers only discover when the pay period rolls in.
How can managers improve their rostering system?
More than setting the hours, those who oversee staff are also responsible for optimising wages. The problem is that a lot of managers are either too busy to do so, or are not equipped with the right tools to do it.
We work with thousands of managers from different industries and have summarised some of the most common problems they encounter when it comes to rostering. Read more about these blockers and our tips for success.
Problem #1: Manual rostering is extremely time consuming
Manually writing down the hours staff are rostered is easy for a business with just three people. You put in the hours they need to show up and paste the sheet on the office bulletin board, and that’s it. Job well done, roster’s finished.
But for bigger Australian companies with hundreds and thousands of staff? Not the most ideal way to schedule employees. Scheduling will take weeks, if not months to do.
The band-aid solution is to create a spreadsheet of everyone who needs to be rostered — usually via Excel or Google Sheets. Yes, this cuts down time compared to paper-based rostering, however it’s still not the most efficient way to do so. In essence, your timesheets are still being done manually this way, which makes it prone to human error and time theft.
The solution: Cloud-based processes, from rostering to attendance tracking
An efficient rostering software can help managers cut down the task from a couple of hours to just a few minutes. Templates have also become an efficient way to copy and paste staff’s schedules, because why do the same thing over and over again, every time?
While rostering is half of the job, attendance tracking can now be automated as well. With photo- and location-verified time tracking apps, managers are saved from the guesswork of who’s worked when. Not only does this make timesheet approvals a seamless process, it also prevents time and wage theft on a bigger scale.
Problem #2: It’s tricky to communicate with staff regarding their roster
You’ve created the perfect roster; now you need to tell your staff. But what’s the best avenue to do so? Through face-to-face interaction? Mass messaging? Printing it out?
Not only does choosing a platform become potentially exhausting, it can also become confusing for staff to keep up with where to really check their schedules. One missed message and an entire team’s schedule could go downhill, lowering productivity and service quality for the day.
The solution: Communication tools readily available within the rostering system
While a good rostering software is still seen as a tool that communicates only start and end times, managers can actually use it as a messaging tool for everything to do with shifts — not just when to start and when to end.
Communication or the lack thereof can cause a lot of missed shifts and misunderstandings at work. By having built-in tools in your rostering system, letting people know when they’re expected to work becomes a natural next step than anything. It’s a lot easier for managers and staff alike to have a messaging feature within their scheduling app, directly asking one another about rosters in real-time. Some apps such as Workplace by Facebook also started integrating workforce management tools within their system.
Problem #3: Rostering becomes complex when industry awards come into play
With the recent high profile cases of underpayments in Australia, such as George Calombaris and Subway Australia, fear of penalties in following labour regulations have become universal across many businesses. While this seems to be happening more often than usual, most cases are probably unintentional. The tension here lies in the difficulty of keeping up with requirements as managers roster their staff. It’s a risky game to play when you’re never 100% sure you’re still compliant when rostering employees.
This complexity heavily applies for overtime, weekends, and public holidays. Of course, calculations become a bit more of a puzzle when the type of employment is taken into account, as well as respective qualifications for every shift worked. And with specific pay rates being regularly updated by the government, employers need to take extra care ensuring that the rules they’re implementing are still relevant.
The solution: Automated pay rule updates and direct-to-payroll calculations
Managers shouldn’t have to sit down and read through legal jargon just to roster staff.
A software that automatically updates pay rates based on industry updates (or even custom EBAs, depending on the business) is the most helpful and effortless solution. It saves managers from the complexity of computing rates per employee, and avoiding legal apprehension in the long run. When everything is automated, you can focus on creating the perfect roster without having to worry about the compliance side of things.
In conclusion, the best way to optimise your rostering process is to leave it to a trusted software to take care of everything. With workforce management software such as Tanda, rostering becomes a breeze, and everything else — attendance, timesheets, unavailability, shift swapping, and payroll processing — all happens in one place.