Common Shift Planning Mistakes by Rota Planners & How to Avoid them

On average, a rota planner spends 10 to 15 hours a week to plan shifts with redundant tools. In all means, this can be brought down by 80% with a good shift planning software.
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: May 23, 2022
  • 3 Minutes
common shift planning and rota scheduling mistakes made by rota managers and how to avoid them

Shift mistakes are common. The rota planner or the HR managers can be charged with the problem. However, the employees and the team bear the brunt of it. We list down some of the common shift mistakes that occur and suggest possible solutions offered by HR leaders.

What are some common shift mistakes by rota planners?

Of course, we are in agreement that such mistakes are not intentional. The intention of this article is to raise awareness, to help rota planners and employees alike. Let’s list them out –

Inadequate advance notification of shift schedule

Shift schedule published just 3 0r 5 days in advance, is too short a notice to employees. It is recommended that a shift is published at least 2 weeks in advance. It allows the flexibility for employees to make plans and arrangements for family care and routines.

Longer and continuous shifts

It is unfortunate when some employees get longer shifts. Some unlucky ones get continuous shifts. This is hazardous to the employee’s sleep cycle. Long shifts have a direct impact on sleep disorders. Over 30% of graveyard shift workers and rotating-shift workers have reported long-term insomnia. Disruptive sleep can add to depression and dent the mental well-being of an employee. Due to the rise in the number of sleep-related disorders, due to shift work, it has got a new coinage – SWSD. It is abbreviated as ‘shift work sleep disorder‘.

Understaffing for peak hours

This is an avoidable mistake. Most businesses are aware of their peak hours. It needs additional manpower. Seldom, it is planned well. It has a compounded effect on burned-out employees. As implied, it affects the customer experience as well. Employees need to have additional staff availability during such peak hours. Take a look at our detailed guide to staff employees and plan rota for retail and rota staffing for restaurants during holiday seasons.

What are avoidable rota mistakes?

Luckily, such shift mistakes are avoidable. Seasoned rota planners and HR leaders recommend two things to avoid rota mistakes. One is awareness. The other is knowledge of resources. The list of avoidable shift mistakes is as follows.

  1. Allocating shifts without matching skill requirements.
  2. Manually check and confirm shift slots with employees. It is paving way for ambiguity.
  3. Failing to have back-up rota workers.
  4. Creating inflexible shift schedules.
  5. Allocate continuous shifts to employees without breaks.
  6. Failing to distribute night-shifts and rotating shifts fairly.

A good shift planning software can help you do away with the problem. It will ensure such avoidable mistakes never happen again. As a matter of fact, an estimated £ 37 Billion is lost due to SWSD. Together with, Papershift shift planning software these problems can be addressed.

How can such shift mistakes be avoided?

All things considered, an open environment for employees is important to combat these problems. In addition, asking for feedback from employees can also help. In fact, many rota planners declare that such feedback provided them with compelling reasons and evidence to make changes to their shift planning.

To enumerate, the best practices while creating a shift schedule are –

  • Schedule consistent and predictable shifts for employees.
  • In the event of, shift changes, have rules for advanced notification.
  • Wherever possible, have back-up staff to be flexible to adversities.
  • No favoritism. Absolutely not.
  • Publish a fair rota policy to ensure everyone has an equal distribution of shifts.
  • Get the right mix of people. Create the right balance.
  • By and large, use a date-based approach to measure shift efficiency and decide future shifts.
  • Forecast and setup additional workforce to handle peak shifts and business demands.
  • Take into account employee well-being. Be aware of their strengths and weakness and schedule accordingly.
  • All things considered, still, be prepared for last-minute shift changes.
  • Best of all, have a reliable medium of communication with employees. Having multiple mediums adds to uncertainty and confusion amongst employees.

Invest in the right shift planning software

In conclusion, rota planners need the right tools to combat these problems. On average, a rota planner spends 10 to 15 hours a week to plan shifts with redundant tools. In all means, this can be brought down by 80% with a good shift planning software.

By the way, if you need more time in deciding the software, try our free shift planning excel template in the meantime. Download free rota excel templates here.

Ultimately, excess time can help rota planners focus on employee wellness. For instance, we helped YoungCapital Next in reducing their rota planning time, take a look.

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Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)