Fairness at the heart of rostering

Jamie Harvey

Jamie Harvey


When it comes to managing rotas, ensuring that schedules are fair is really quite important. But doing so is tricky – yet another layer of complexity on top of an already difficult job.

Luckily, Rotaready’s scheduling algorithm (which builds accurate rotas in seconds) will automatically factor in whatever “fair” means to you and your employees.

No-one likes being treated unfairly. Repeatedly unfair rosters will inevitably, over time, lead to staff unhappiness, lower productivity, potentially higher staff turnover and even a poor reputation as an employer.

Therefore, keeping rotas fair is critical. Unfortunately, it’s not straight-forward to do. There’s already lots to factor in when building a roster: availability, skills, contracted hours, rest requirements (plus the Working Time Directive), individuals’ working preferences and more. As if that wasn’t time-consuming and difficult enough, you may also need to apply your own fairness rules. This additional layer of complexity means more time spent and more risk of making a mistake.

"Fair" certainly goes a lot further than distributing shifts evenly...

“Fair” certainly goes a lot further than distributing shifts evenly…

From the outset, we at Rotaready built fairness into our algorithm’s decision-making. I.e, the rotas that are built automatically in seconds (that respect staff availability, skills, contracted hours, etc) are also fair. Yet herein lies the problem – how do we define “fair”? We can certainly say that “fair” means a lot more than just an even distribution of shifts amongst staff. Could it be one (or more) of the following examples?

  • Balancing out early & late shifts? But staff may prefer early and late starts differently…
  • Sharing out undesirable roles? But how is “undesirable” defined? Undesirable for one person may be desirable for someone else…
  • Giving one in every few weekends off? But some employees may only be available at weekends…
  • Keeping rest in check (e.g. don’t start early if you finished late the night before)? But what if the opposite was required?

The point I’m trying to make is that everyone can have a different take on what fair means (in fact, an interesting article I stumbled upon summed up fairness into 3 concepts: sameness, deservedness and need). That’s why we made Rotaready’s handling of fairness customisable for every client. In short – you define what fair means to you and when you come to generate a schedule on Rotaready, these rules are automatically factored in, ensuring your rosters are fair as well as accurate.

This is all part of our setup process. Every time we onboard a new client, we take time to understand their intricacies and niche requirements.

What does fair mean to you and your employees? Leave us a comment below.

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