What SME owners need to know about staff rostering

Chris Power Ento

Fair, flexible and efficient.

These are the three words that every small business owner should learn to love. Whether you own an independent company or operate an autonomous franchise, these rostering tips are for all you SME industrialists out there.

Remember, you’re the lifeblood of the Australian economy, so master the art of staff rostering, and your bottom line will thank you.

Be human

Unlike your corporate counterparts, there’s no faceless HR department managing your staff scheduling strategy. This means that you’ve got to stay human when communicating with staff.

Be considerate of their personal plans, avoid rostering for more than five days per week and issue rosters as far in advance as possible. One of the key factors driving poor retention is lack of empathy and understanding, so ditch the robotic approach and stay anthropological.

Adopt a ‘position rostering’ approach

Rather than sourcing availability and building a roster around staff calendars, use a ‘position rostering’ method to design a sovereign timetable. Once you’ve defined shifts and costed out wage rates you can then add suitable names. This puts the needs of your business first, while simultaneously catering to staff availability.

Get smart

Your workforce might not be in the hundreds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage the same smart scheduling technologies as the big guns. With technology on your side, you can create rosters that are fast, smart and responsive.

Add shifts in seconds, then distribute rosters via SMS or email. This empowers staff with the convenience of checking rosters from anywhere, at any time. By automating the shift request and change system you’ll also minimise the risk of eleventh hour rostering disasters.

Be fair but firm

Busy shifts call for your best staff, and it’s important not to under-appreciate your top performers. Recognise your stellar employees by offering them first pick of shifts every now and then, as well as tiered rewards. That said, blatant favouritism is out.

A good roster shares out the best shifts between high performers, which helps to fairly distribute both rewards and burdens. An in-depth understanding of how your business operates on days and nights, week days and weekends is critical to developing a fair yet firm rostering system.

Don’t scrimp on staff

If you hire based exclusively on available shifts your business will suffer. Extra employees on the books means you have just enough flexibility to cover illness and leave, without shaking up schedules or relying on other staff to work excessive hours.

Casual workers are in a constant state of flux, so use them to trim or build your workforce according to demand.

What many SME owners fail to realise is that what unfolds during a shift is often heavily influenced by the initial backend rostering process. Performance, profits and employee satisfaction are all at stake, which means it’s critical to develop a scheduling strategy that meets the needs of both your business, and your staff.

Chris Power, Head of Workforce Management, Ento