Rostering efficiently has always been something of a challenge within certain industries. Those which rely on flexible workforces or that operate with different numbers of workers at different times of the year will often have to face up to a raft of logistical challenges with employee scheduling. Of course, this can also become even tougher by factors that are outside the control of employers. If you have an employee with a key skill who calls in sick just before a shift starts, for example, then it will be a headache to sort out. Equally, assigning shifts as customer orders quantities change or last-minute design alterations come into force makes efficient rostering that much harder.
In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, business owners and middle managers who are responsible for assigning shifts face even tougher problems. While social distancing rules have been enforced and entire sectors of the economy have had to close it has, of course, been easier for managers to make such rostering arrangements. If your factory is closed or your chain of restaurants is not currently serving tables, then you can make some straightforward decisions about the number of employees you need to provide skeleton services. This will no longer be the case as vaccine roll-out continues around the world, however. How will vaccination programmes play their part in future shift assignments? Businesses may now consider keeping Covid 19 vaccinated employees separate from the rest of their workforce if they are not subjected to the same social distancing rules.
Skill Mapping in Rostering Workforces
Although obtaining a vaccine for Covid-19 is not a skill, it is more of an attribute that an employee may or may not have, it can be treated as such within smart rostering systems. What does this mean in terms of shift assigning? Well, imagine you need a workforce to complete a shift whereby everyone who will be working together has to have a basic skill. In construction, this might be that they are up to-date with their construction skills certification, for instance. In a factory setting, you might need all employees on a shift to have completed the relevant health and safety course. Using smart rostering software, you can assign skills and attributes to the people you have on your books.
Although these skills might include higher-level traits, such as team leadership training or the ability to work with certain types of machinery, they can also cover basic attributes. In other words, using a smart software system to roster your workforce will enable you to input who has been vaccinated among your teams and who has not. Crucially, you will then be able to assign appropriate people to tasks where they might not be able to socially distance from one another. As more and more is known about the transmissibility of the virus in vaccinated people, something which is looking increasingly promising for humans and less favourable to the virus, so more relaxation about people working in close proximity with one another is likely to occur.
Keep Unvaccinated Employees Separate
That said, if you put an unvaccinated person into the same environment as vaccinated members of the workforce, you could be opening the door to problems. Minor outbreaks of the disease are still going to occur even when the majority of the world’s population can say it is truly inoculated from Covid. No employer wants to see some of their workforce get ill because vaccinated people were encouraged to mix with people who have yet to receive their jab. It could lead to temporary closures of business under public health measures to stop these sorts of outbreaks in their tracks.
Even worse, such problems could do reputational damage to enterprises which appear to have been lax in their approach to staff safety. This is probably even more the case when your business is public-facing. Any retailer or hospitality employer needs to think about the risk of transmission not only among their own workforce but with the public, too, of course. By mapping vaccinated members of your team in your rostering software just as you would a skill, all of these negative outcomes are avoidable.
Get Employees to the Right Places Within the Right Teams
Organising shifts is not always about checking which team members you need to be present at their workstations and which you do not. In many business models, it is also about assigning clusters of workers in teams to carry out their job functions in different locations. A typical example of this would be leaning operatives who might need to work solo on clients’ premises for part of the day and together as a
team at other times. Assigning such teams may mean you want to keep the same group of vaccinated workers in the same group as much as possible. Why?
It is quite clear that most vaccinations that have, thus far, received approval for use in the community require multiple doses. Although workers obtain a degree of protection shortly after they receive their first dose of vaccine, they will not be clinically safe until they have received their second. This fact alone makes the use of rostering software even more crucial if your teams are to remain as safe as they can be between doses.
In many ways the responsible thing to do is to keep track of which workers you have who have received one injection, which have had two and, of course, those who for whatever reason have not taken up their opportunity for a vaccination. After all, some people are not suited to certain medical treatments and you may have to assign only certain shifts to such workers you employ so that they can maintain social distancing.
Future-Proofing Businesses in the Context of Ongoing Public Health Programmes
Looking forward, we can expect a degree of disruption to the old working patterns we were used to only a year ago. We now know that the Covid-19 virus is capable of mutating, for example. It has done so before and it will do so again. For employers, this may well mean that keeping track of their workforce’s level of immunisation will be an ongoing project. For example, should a variant of the virus
start to lower or even escape the level of immunisation the current crop of vaccines offer, then further jabs are likely to be needed.
If that is the case and new or modified vaccinations are to become a part of daily life, then tracking who has received their booster jab and when will be a logistical requirement for many businesses. Ongoing public health vaccination programmes may only target certain demographic groups or only focus on people in public-facing roles or those who need to work in close contact with others. At the moment, we simply don’t know. However, some form of vaccination confirmation for employers is likely to be essential to maintain smooth operations. As such, investing in roster management software now is not simply about ensuring your business will transitions from lockdown to normal operations smoothly but about future-proofing it from further challenges that lie ahead.
After all, scheduling workloads rationally and as safely as possible will help workers to feel safer. This should then lead to increased productivity with fewer people calling in sick or avoiding going to certain locations. It will also help your brand to successfully portray itself as a responsible one within your sector. consequently, you will enjoy lower staff turnover rates and reap the financial benefits that come