Hot topic: Work rotas at Christmas

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While many prepare for holiday celebrations, thousands of employees in hospitality, catering, social care and the NHS, among others, will work on bank holidays

How can employers make sure staff remain motivated and appreciated for their hard work, and ensure the rota system is as fair as possible?

Alex Nestor, director of human resources for Weston Area Health NHS Trust, says:

"We’ve found that employee engagement around the holidays is actually extremely high. Some say it’s just another day, while many of our staff enjoy working on Christmas Day and it’s often quite a festive atmosphere for staff and patients.

"We do everything we can to make the workplace a fun place to be, from allowing staff to change to festive T-shirts rather than their uniforms, to putting on buffets. It’s not easy to get from A to B, so we’ve been grateful for the generosity of several cab firms who offer free cabs for our staff.

"There can be some incredibly sad moments too. A lot of patients from vulnerable backgrounds do not always find it the easiest time of year, and rates of self-harm tend to rise. Thankfully around Christmas people are also at their most giving, so there tends to be a real sense of pride as everyone pulls together to help those patients most in need."

Chris McCullough, CEO of Rotageek, says:

"Our research found that 41% of employers admit to often wrongly predicting the number of staff needed in-store over bank holidays. Mispredicting staffing levels means one of two things: either a loss of sales in the case of understaffing, or a waste of staff hours in the case of overstaffing. Neither contributes to employee engagement (on the contrary), and ultimately can lead to staff churn.

"Staff scheduling is really important. We’ve found that a lot of employers are still planning rotas by hand and basing these on nothing except managers’ gut feeling. Get a good idea of your people and their needs, get the data, and get the technology in place – that’s the best way to avoid any disappointments for you or your employees."

Check back tomorrow for part two of this hot topic

This piece appears in the December 2019 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk

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