A well-designed roster helps ensure:
- happy staff
- work tasks covered
- improved safety
- reduced stress and fatigue
- increased productivity
- better staff retention
- fewer mistakes.
Planning an effective roster is an opportunity to step back and review the processes on your farm. You can identify bottlenecks, work out where there are skills gaps and then take action to improve your farm. Perhaps you can save half an hour a day through improvements in staff productivity, get more time to work “on” the business rather than “in” the business, or roster yourself some time off for fishing!
What is the best roster for my farm?
The best roster for your farm is one that delivers what your farm business needs while taking into consideration the personal situations of your employees. This web page will help you understand how to create an effective roster.
What makes a roster successful?
A successful roster is well planned and organised. Taking into account the number of employees and skills required, management must be committed to making the roster work. Employees need to know that the roster is fair and that management will stick to the roster, except in extenuating circumstances.
Good rosters are simple, easy to read and have flexibility to support the people involved in the business. The roster is an important guide as to how the work will get done on the farm, but they are not set in concrete.
Farm business goals
Once farm business goals have been set, determine the work that needs to be completed to achieve them. Both the goals and the work plan can be communicated to employees, monitored and reviewed regularly.
Is your goal to be a preferred employer? Would you like to work “on” the business rather than “in” the business? Or perhaps you would like to spend more time fishing or with family?
Step 1: Roster basics
Decide on the key driving factors that influence the decisions you will make on your roster
- Get specific about what you want to achieve. Think about how you want to brand your business. How do you want to be known? What kind of employee do you want to attract? What can you do with your roster to make this more likely?
- Write down the things that are important to your business (e.g. maximum days on, minimum days off, maximum hours per day, training days per week etc.) Prioritise the list in order of importance to you and your employees.
Step 2: Staff numbers and tasks
When planning to change your roster, think about what work needs done and who is available to do it.
- Map how the team currently spend time
- List critical farm jobs and how long it takes to complete them
- Build in time for team meetings, planning, training and managing (it’s all farm work!)
- List seasonal farm jobs that will come up during this roster period and estimate how long they will take
- List jobs you would like to be completed and how long they would take per day
- It’s best to allow some flexibility to allow for any unforeseen problems.
Step 3: Creating work/life balance
With your current team, work out their availability and what hours would provide a good work/life balance.
- Look at your current staffing numbers - is it possible to increase numbers or bring on casuals if required?
- Make note of any days that staff are not available (do they work other jobs, childcare commitments etc.)
- What minimum and maximum hours do you want to offer in a week?
- What commitments do staff have outside of work hours that you may be able to accommodate?
After mapping out the work which needs done and who is available to do it, consider what other tools are available to increase efficiencies in your business. Can you use contractors for some tasks? Could you install ACRs? Do you have access to relief staff? Are there any tasks which require the whole farm team?
By asking a variety of questions about your farm system and considering different options, think about how different rosters might benefit your farm. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
Rethink system constraints
- Highlight any jobs that only one person can do. Can you train up someone else?
- If certain jobs take a long time or a lot of staff to complete (eg. milking) consider other efficiencies or technologies that could speed this up (eg. ACR). Ask for staff input.
- Consider using contractors or casual staff for some jobs.
- Review your staff budget – what changes can you make if you improve your roster what other areas of the farm a likely to improve?
Select shift patterns (rotations)
- Decide on two or three different rotations that you want to play round with, you could ask for staff input here. (A rotation is the days on and off someone works e.g. 11/3 or 5/2).
- If you want to set staff up so they have regular days of the week off, this will limit your options as your rotation will need to be devisable by 7. You can check the DairyNZ Roster Builder for some alternate ideas.
- Look around at farms of a similar size and set-up, what rotations are they using and why?
- Use the DairyNZ Roster builder
Draft up some rosters and consider the pros and cons of each roster
- Using a calendar or scrap paper or excel spreadsheet, draft up what the rotations might look like over a one or two month period
- Decide how you want a handover to work (if the team changes over to another shift)
- Remember to include all management staff in the roster so you get planned time off
- Try starting people on different days of the week
- Check any additional costs are able to be funded
- Ask staff what they think of your favoured option/s
The new roster
Changing the roster can have a big impact on staff culture, so it’s key to get everyone on board and excited about the change. Communication through the entire process is essential, especially when the new roster starts.
- Give people plenty of advance notice of the new roster
- Consider making it a trial for a month
- Make it visible where people can see it and stick to it
2. Review the roster
- After a month or so check that the roster is working
- Make any tweaks that could make it better
- Review timesheets
Balanced and productive work time requires:
- Enough people with the right skills to ensure workloads are achievable and animal welfare, food safety and good environmental and employment practices are not compromised
- A variety of tasks offering both physical and mental challenges
- Motivating and enjoyable work that avoids constant fatigue
Great employers ensure employees on a well-designed roster normally:
- Are not likely to work more than 50 per week
- Are not likely to work more than 10 hours a day
- Are not likely to work more than four hours in any day before a break is taken
- Have regular days off, set by the roster system
- Have at least two consecutive days off