One of the most troublesome jobs in business can be managing the staff roster. Trying to juggle the needs, wants and foibles of staff can become a major headache. Add into this sickness, hangovers, weddings and funerals, plus the obligatory holidays and a manager's stress levels can go through the roof.
Once you have it all sorted out for next week, Monday arrives with a phone call from Jean, one of your better staff members, to say that she is too sick to come in. You are in the middle of setting up for the day's business and you now have to get on the phone and call and call until you reach someone who can come in at short notice. What a great start to your week.
But it doesn't need to be like this. I have just discovered that there is a much easier, less stressful, much more effective and extremely cheap solution to the current paper roster – an online Roster Portal.
There are a few computer-based roster systems available and each has it's own merits. However, the one I was most impressed with has been designed by a very accomplished tech-head who had been working his way through double degrees at university by working in a Donut King store. When he was promoted to manage the store he was aware of the problems with the roster system from a staff perspective and then he had the headache of seeing it from the manager's perspective.
After almost two years of testing in a few other businesses and tweaking to get it just right, it is now ready for the open market.
Everyone, especially those who are part of the younger generation, has a computer. Everyone has a mobile phone. Most young people use social networking sites to communicate and keep in touch. This roster portal utilises all of these in a simple semi-automatic way to allow the forward planning of staff management and historical tracking as simple as ABC. Staff and managers can plan months ahead and no longer have to keep remembering that Mary is getting married on August 16 or that Bill needs a few days off when his sister arrives from the United Kingdom in September.
With Roster Portal in place, when Jean phones in sick all that is needed is a few clicks and a personalised text message is sent out to every other staff member notifying them that there are few hours up for grabs. Generally, within a few minutes you have a response and you can get on with setting up for the day's business. As an effective management tool it also has other features that quite impressed me. It has a chat room facility where staff can keep in touch with all the business gossip. It also has a notice board facility for the manager to post specials, competitions, new products, awards or congratulations.
This new online roster system was found to be very much appreciated by the younger staff who found it was much more effective and user-friendly and staff loyalty improved noticeably. In other words, it seemed to be an absolute win-win for everyone. And the cost? I could not believe that it was so cost effective. For less than the equivalent of a lowly manager's hourly wage per week you can have all these benefits. Wonderful!
Colin Mackie is the managing director of Enterprise 21. A unique business based on building, growing and developing single enterprises into successful stand-alone or franchise chains. www.enterprise21.com .au