Creating a staff rota is one of the most frustrating parts of running a small business. It’s nearly impossible to respect the numerous preferences of employees while still keeping a balanced shift schedule.
Especially when it comes to managing time-off requests and sick leaves, creating a rota is a tricky thing. As a manager, you want to respect workers but not to the detriment of the business’ ability to run smoothly every day.
The onerous and time-consuming aspect of this process is balancing these complex needs with a calendar. When drawing up a rota, there’s room for error, miscommunication, and a breakdown of employee satisfaction. To improve your business management techniques, consider these three free ways to create a rota without the headache:
1. A Digital Calendar
Managers who schedule a rota with a paper or pencil have to deal with constant cross-outs, confusion, and the chance of losing the physical schedule.
Plus, it limits the access and input employees have on their chosen shifts. Likewise, working with Excel can cause some discrepancies. It’s difficult to master and doesn’t automatically update employees on shift changes. Every time you adjust the schedule, you need to resend it to staff.
A shared digital calendar can help solve these two issues by simplifying the scheduling process, allowing for real-time, and opening the schedule to constant digital access. Google Docs, for example, offers free calendar software that staff members can check on their computer or smartphone. Here are the steps you need to take to set up rota through Google:
1. Set up a Google Account for your business.
2. Open up the Google Calendar.
3. Click on “My Calendars” on the Right Sidebar.
4. Create and name a new shared calendar.
5. Add the email addresses of your employees to add them to the calendar.
6. Start scheduling!
Creating a shared Google calendar streamlines the scheduling process, not only for employees but for managers too. This option is ideal for a smaller group of people — when you have too many workers involved, it can get complicated.
2. Chat Tools
Do you use WhatsApp? This cross-platform messaging application has the advantages of SMS without the charges. If all of your employees have smartphones, you can use WhatsApp as a primary channel to communicate with staff. Plus, they can use this channel to let you know of any conflicts in advance, and you can send out links to the rota.
If you choose to work with a digital calendar like Google Calendar, you can send a link out to your employees through WhatsApp. If you would rather stick to pen and paper or Excel, you can upload the calendar to Google Drive or Dropbox and share the link to with the group.
This method only works if all of your employees have smartphones with app capability, so check-in with your staff.
By 2017, there will be almost 45 million smartphone users in the UK, so your chances of everyone having access to WhatsApp will continue to increase.
3. Free Rota Software
There’s a long list of complimentary services that’s sole purpose is to make rota easier. This kind of free staff roster software includes the advantages of both a shared digital calendar and chat tools, without the possible drawbacks.
When I Work, for example, includes a mobile calendar and a chat application that allows employees to make time-off requests, swap shifts with workers, and communicate any changes with managers. Individuals who don’t have smartphones can use the application on their desktop too. Through transparent calendars, combined with the chat application, managers increase accountability.
If you have a developer on staff and would rather make a custom rota software program, you can start with a basic framework from an employee scheduling tool listed on GitHub or SourceForge. Overall, these new tools are adaptable to your business needs — you can work with them until they fit your preferences.
These three free ways to create a rota schedule can streamline the most difficult part of your job as a manager or business owner. There are so many amazing options, there’s no need to settle for time-consuming and burdensome alternatives. To take back your time — and your schedule — consider implementing one of these ideas today.