If you require further information on any of our services please do not hesitate to contact us by telephone or e-mail. All enquiries are extremely welcome.
T: 01636 816 466
The Old Vicarage
Station Road, Rolleston
You can always be more efficient
Operational Research is all about using analysis to improve decision making. Dr Angela Moore uses mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, optimisation, sequencing and scheduling techniques to create simple heuristics you can employ to run your operation more efficiently.
We are often asked the question, "how do I start a brand new staff schedule?" It can be a daunting task. Few people ever have to create one, after all once you have a working pattern you only need to alter it if the workload changes. Creating a brand new manning operation, budgeting for it, and presenting it to management, is a rare event. We have prepared this page to illustrate how to start. It isn't hard to do, and the example given is based on an actual request.
Create a staff schedule for a call centre manned by 2 people 24/7 with an additional 8-hour day shift Mon-Fri. The shifts must all be 8-hours . This means that the workload will be 376 hours per week or 19,605 hours per year.
The first step once you have the workload requirement is to work out the number of staff you will require. A good rule of thumb is that for one person on 24/7 you will require 5 people. This value will vary dependant upon; breaks, contractual hours, handovers, absence rates, holiday management etc.Therefore the operation will require approximately 11 people. Our book How to Manage Your Shift Pattern gives detailed examples for a more accurate assessment.
Once you know the number of shift workers and the workload, you need to create the shifts. The shift length is an important consideration, too long and your staff can become fatigued which results in errors, too short and there will not be the incentive to come into work. In this case they wanted all 8-hours. They could have gone with a mixture, an option we would always put forward unless there are fatigue reasons why this would not be appropriate, in a call centre a mixture of 8 and 12-hour shifts would be appropriate, they could even go with a mixture of 10 and 12 hours, or any other shift length they liked. The reason for advising longer shift lengths unless fatigue is an issue, is that it limits the number of commutes and maximise their time off. When introducing change it is a good idea to make the new operation more attractive to the shift workers than the old.
Once you choose which shifts to go for, you then select the base pattern. This pattern should incorporate the working requirements of the staff, e.g. whole weekends off, holidays included, maximum of 5 consecutive shifts, etc. For the most popular shift patterns, our book How to Manage Your Shift Pattern gives the advantages and disadvantages of each as well as how to manage your holidays and absences. If you would like more variety our Book of Shift Patterns has 300.
If you choose all 8-hours then there are two popular options 7on-2off or 6on-2off, as a base pattern. The 7on-2off is the most popular because of the advantages it gives the staff including whole weekends off. If you would like more information on creating your own shift pattern then we offer a course CDT01.
Holidays will make up most of your problems with the shift pattern. A holidays included shift pattern will eliminate almost all these problems otherwise a holiday management plan will be required.A holiday management plan is a set of rules under which a worker can take their holiday without effecting the operation.
Absences will be the next biggest problem, in the UK the average for a public sector worker is a 2.6% sickness rate and 1.6% for a private sector worker, for more information on how sickness rates relate to the number of people off each shift please see our blog.
Once you have one or several optional shift patterns which will meet your requirements you then need to implement this change. The first step is to ensure that the shift pattern matches any legal constraits and will be acceptable to both the company and the staff. Consulting with them through one-on-one discussions, presentations and questionnaires is a good way to find out their view and concerns and engage them in the change process. Our course CDT03 gives details on the best approach, alternatively we can help mediate and provide independent advice throughout the consultation period.
Below is an example of a shift pattern using Holidays Included within the shift pattern and Banked hours to cover for sickness. This is an 11 week rotating shift pattern using the 7on-2off as a base, which matched the example workload. In this example we extended the night shift to 10 hours and reduced the late shift to 6 hours. So it makes for a better work-life balance.