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Operational Research

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.

angelamoore@visualrota.co.uk

Holidays Inlcuded

Most companies use a holidays excluded shift arrangement. Which means that you select your holidays in accordance with a set of rules. You know the sort; “first come first served” and “a maximum of two off on any shift” are popular rules. However on this type of arrangement everyone is disadvantaged.
  • Firstly you are restricted by everyone else. So if you want to have your holidays during school holidays because that’s when you can go away with the children, you have to be the first one to request those dates. So you have to be organised, no last minute breaks for you. And if someone else has booked a single day off in the middle of your ideal holiday, it will be refused.
  • Secondly the system is unfair. Someone who has been with the company for years can look ahead and block book their holidays. Any one new to the group is at the back of the queue for booking holidays because they will not be the “first to come and request a holiday”.
  • Thirdly you will end up working more weekends. If everyone gets to select their holidays and up to two people are allowed off on every shift, what happens when no one books a holiday? You end up working a shift which you didn’t have to. These shifts could be at night, at weekends or on a Bank Holiday.
  • Fourthly it is more stressful. Have you ever gone to work and wondered if you will be over worked again because you’re understaffed? It’s so stressful working when the operation is understaffed. No one has a proper job, because you are all doing your own job and a bit of someone else’s. From the moment you get to work, you are behind and by the end you are just exhausted. Sometimes it can be exciting and exhilarating, knowing that you are managing a crisis, but wouldn’t your life be better without the stress?
  • Fifthly you could end up standing around doing nothing. If no one books a holiday on a shift, then you end up with more people in than there is work. So what does the extra person do? Stand in the corner? Not very nice for anyone. They feel undervalued and bored. Being bored is so exhausting, especially for 12 hours! And what about everyone else on that shift? If you’re working and someone else isn’t, it feels vastly unfair.

 

From the company’s point of view a holidays excluded shift pattern is not ideal either:

  • On a holidays excluded shift pattern the company has to waste resources; when no one books a holiday there are extra people on shift who don’t need to be there.
  • Someone has to manage and approve all holiday requests. This takes time, effort and skill.
  • Someone has to create the rules to manage holidays and if the workload changes, then a new set of rules needs to be created.
  • However the worst thing about a holidays excluded shift pattern is that someone has to say “NO”. They have to say no to your dream holiday, they have to say no to you seeing your child on their birthday, they have to say no to you enjoying Christmas with your family. This is not an easy thing for anyone to do. And they don’t have to say it once, they have to say it again, and again.

 

Now there is an alternative to a holidays excluded shift pattern. That is a holidays included shift pattern. On a holidays included shift pattern everyone gets all of their holidays included in the shift pattern at the start of the year.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “That doesn’t sound very fair. What if I don’t like the time I have off, or I need the first week in August because I have a time share?”
Well on a holidays included shift pattern, the holidays are rostered in a very fair manner. Everyone is rostered off in turn. They are designed with you in mind. So if you want your time off in blocks of a week, that’s what you get. You want a two week break in the Summer, that’s what you get. Most shift workers once they experience a holidays included shift pattern love it.
There are three main reasons for a holidays included shift pattern, firstly there’s the privacy, then you get better quality time off and lastly it minimises stress and fatigue.
  • A holidays included shift pattern is very private. Have you ever felt that you had to tell your boss your entire life story to explain why you need a holiday? Well that is no more. On a holidays included shift pattern you don’t have to tell anyone anything. You just go. Your time off is you own.
  • You get better quality time off on a holidays included shift pattern. Your time off is designed to be long enough to recover from your previous shifts and still have time to get away, do the garden or just spend a few days in the beach with a book.
  • You get more holidays on a holidays included shift pattern. I know that sounds strange. How can you get more holiday? Have you ever studied your shift pattern and seen that some shifts will give you more time off? Well that’s what happens on a holidays included shift pattern, the holidays are put with your rostered days off to give you more time off for less.
  • You get better Summer holidays on a holidays included. During the Summer everyone wants that two week break. The weather and school terms make it a prime holiday season. Fitting in everyone's holiday, so that they can get a two week break is hard work, when people can select their own holidays. The only way it works is if everyone gets together and negotiates their time off. Not something you want to do every year. But on a holidays included shift pattern it is a normal part of the shift pattern. Everyone can have that two week break.
  • However the main reason for a holidays included shift patterns is that it is so relaxing. Everyone knows who will be on each shift. This means that you never have to dread going into work and finding that half the shift failed to turn up. On a holidays included everyone who should be in will be in. So every shift; no one gets left out, no one has to be stressed. Your manager can ensure that every one is in with the right skills, and then match the work to the people. Something that is impossible on a holidays excluded shift pattern because no one knows from one shift to the next who will turn up.

 

From the company’s point of view a holidays included shift pattern is the most efficient option available:

  • A holidays included shift pattern manages itself, so no one has to say “NO” to anyone.
  • No more calling everyone up to see who can cover a shift.
  • On a holidays included shift pattern you NEVER run short. The shift pattern is designed so that everyone you need to be in, will be in. That’s guaranteed. So no more sitting around wondering who will be in tomorrow. You KNOW who will be in, you know their skills and you can match them to your workload.
  • But the biggest advantage is that you can PLAN. On a holidays included shift pattern you know how many people will be in on shift. And you know this for a year ahead. So if you have a project, you can plan when you do it based on real staffing levels. You can guarantee when work will be completed. If a project takes 100 man hours, you can see where you have 100 man hours spare and slot it in. Then you can order the supplies to be ready when you need them reducing inventory and tell your customers when it will be done. No more guesses, no more extending the deadline just in case everyone is away. 
 
And if you were wondering what the best holidays included shift pattern looks like, then it’s the 554. On the 554 holidays included you can work four or five shifts and have a week off. Here is an example of the 554 holidays included. This is a typical shift pattern that you would work as a full time equivalent on 12-hour shifts.
554 Example v3
 
On this version you get about 29 weeks off. In the summer the shifts have been changed so you give up two normal weeks off and get an 18-day break.
Oh and if you don’t like your weeks off, then you can swap shifts, so that you can tailor your shift pattern to your own life style.

If you want to introduce a holidays included shift pattern to your department, tell your manager about C-Desk Technology and direct them to our website or email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or our book explaining a holidays included shift pattern is available on Amazon