changing shift patterns guide

Changing to new Shift Patterns

If your Company is thinking about changing to new Shift patterns. We describe the processes involved to do this. If you have any questions, please call us.

click here to see the Changing Shift Patterns Guide

Staff Scheduling & Staff Rostering Software: Visual Rota

More alecrmation about Visual Rota

Human Resource Management:Training in Staff Rostering

user guides,help & video record keeping using VR calculating holiday entitlements shifts overlapping pay rates
creating new schedules with VR shift pattern generator changing over to VR hotels and staffing
See your staffing costs as you prepare the schedule On Oct.1st 1998 the new regulations came into force Frequently asked questions Using Visual Rota Statistics to make decisions
 Managing Change. How to introduce changes How to use annual hours in planning schedules What is Whatif analysis? How having too many staff can affect quality as well as too few staff
Continually  short staffed-fact or myth How to reduce staff painlessly please email us Theory and creating the staffing schedule



This is one of the most frustrating managerial tasks that has to be done.

You need to satisfy simultaneously

The first over riding parameter is to minimise the work involved and maximise the efficiency

Unless you are using Visual Rota to do your staff scheduling, then you will still be doing it the traditional way by hand using paper, pencil, rubber and a lot of patience. Most of the alecrmation below applies irrespective of which method you use, where there is a variation between the two, we have concentrated on the traditional method.

Legal constraints.

Set down by statute, guidelines from Government Authorities, conditions of employment, maximum hours to be worked, legal requirements such as trained personnel only for certain, potentially dangerous, tasks.

Contracts of employment might include agreements about hours, specific days of the week that the person is employed to work, holidays.

Format of the duty roster.

Number of consecutive days to be worked, this is varied from person to person but if possible a limit should be set, i.e. no more than 7 consecutive days unless a special request has been made.


Weekends off are an important consideration, staff are more bothered about which days they have off and the number of consecutive days off than any other aspect of the roster, except when holidays are involved. Whenever possible, use a system of weekend rotation and count the number of weekends off for future reference.

Night Duty.

Number of consecutive nights to be worked, this is varied from person to person but if possible a limit should be set, i.e. try not to give more than 4 consecutive night together. Some people do work set nights but unless this is at the weekend, problems about fairness can arise.

Daily working hours.

Some staff work set hours but a general agreement with members of staff about the number of early and late's duties to be worked will make life a lot easier.

Days preceding leave days.

Try to roster an early shift before a day off , and a late one after, it can make a 1 day break seem like 3! .

Pattern Rosters.

Some staff work to a 'pattern roster' but the pattern might need to be changed during holiday periods.

Typically. A member of staff works the same shifts each week but can work extra if required and has to be asked if they are available first.


Rules about holidays varies with every organization. Staff members invariably can never remember the rules, especially so when they come from other organizations. Most rules are arbitrary.

Typical rules are;

Agency Staff.

Temporary staff can be used to replace shortfalls but this is not recommended normal practice as a temporary worker cannot provide the same level of skill. Financial controls inevitably mean you have to get approval first. Temps need training and the constant need for training to use continually changing technology can make them more expensive than having full time staff. It is possible to minimize the cost of using temps by efficient use of the duty roster. Please consult us for further details.

Staff constraints.

This is the greatest area for potential conflict, before the final staffing schedule is published potential problems can be avoided if discussion takes place between the staff who could be upset by it.

Staff/skill mix.

The actual skill mix on a day to day basis forms the most important factor that has to be taken into consideration when the schedule is written, both in terms of quality and quantity. This might be because of internal rules, or, more likely a Government Authority has stipulated the requirement. When one duty roster contains several skills, it is in effect several rosters and is created as such.

Personality Conflicts.

This is undesirable but sometimes the case, contact needs to be kept to a minimum. The problem needs to be identified and resolved.

Staff Preferences.

All establishment need to have a written policy to cover staff requests. Typically it is a request book that can be filled in up until the time the staffing schedule is being prepared. Once the schedule is published all staff have to make changes through a senior staff only, preferably after arranging the changes amongst themselves.

Variations do occur when catering for requests over Christmas and New Year. It would be pointless having a request book, it goes without saying what the requests would be. You should anticipate the requests and form the schedule accordingly.

Ensuring Co-operation.

Writing the off duty.

If you find a duty roster that works copy it from one period of time to the next.

No one ever starts from afresh with a blank sheet of paper, except in the literal sense, because most of the time you will be constrained by legislation and staff requests.

So. Fill in permanent shifts, holidays, requests, days off, allocate shifts to the staff.

Check numbers for each shift and adjust according to your needs.

Check hours worked by staff to comply with legislation and contracts of employment.

The picture below is a typical example of how a master copy of the staff schedule looks when it is done by hand. It is a working document that requires daily changes which perforce means that you are over writing previous input, and this means messy appearances. In Great Britain, this is also a legal document to prove that you are in accordance with legislation. Often the only person who can interpret the document is the author, who has painfully created it in the first place and amended it thereafter. For an example of how Visual Rota looks see Example & Picture or for a video looking at how it works, go to Video about Visual Rota.

An old staffing schedule done by hand, 1986

Often, these works of art are zealously guarded and criticism is not appreciated. It is the end result of an intellectual challenge and alterations can be fiercely resisted. Staff often look upon it as a cage, restricting their freedom of movement, in which case conflicts can, and do, occur. Using Visual Rota, you will find that most of the problem areas simply disappear.

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