In the industrial sector, you see a lot of fixed shift rosters, fixed shifts, and full-time employees who work for the same company for many years. There are sub-cultures, and close friendships that are formed within the teams. Do you want to know which shift is working at any particular time? Then ask the nearest worker, and he will tell you straightaway. If employees have been comfortable working in this type of setting year after year, then can self-rostering really have such big advantages?
Trade unions are increasingly asking employers to give their employees more flexibility and independence. In the long run, integrating these elements into the operational management will make it easier for the employer to schedule the workforce capacity and it will also improve the (physical and social) health of the employees. Furthermore, it will make it possible for the employees to decide when they want to work for themselves. But there are also other advantages, and disadvantages as well.
The big advantage of self-rostering is that employees can plan their own shift rosters. This means they can plan their work around their private life, take care leave when they need to, pick up their children from school, and work part-time when there are rotating shifts. Part-time work in general suddenly becomes a lot easier with self-rostering. It has been scientifically proven that self-rostering keeps employees healthy (both socially and physically), because it gives employees more control in terms of when they work and what they do with their time. In turn, this also improves the quality of their work. Furthermore, another major advantage is that it improves the development of the employees, because they no longer work in the same department, in the same team, all the time, but learn new skills and form new relationships throughout the entire organisation.
The introduction of self-rostering means employees will become more well-rounded, because they will be working in different teams and carry out a wider range of tasks. In addition, it means employers can adjust the number of employees working on each shift to suit the actual workload, and thus save money. Self-rostering therefore helps to eliminate underutilisation and the need for overtime. Other advantages of self-rostering include: more attractive employment conditions, less sickness absenteeism, more opportunities for part-time work, compliance with collective labour agreement rules about such issues as working night shifts (for employees over the age of 55) and agreements about sustainable employability etc.
In terms of their work, employees can sometimes find themselves outside of their comfort zone when a new shift planning system is introduced. For these employees, self-rostering can have an unsettling effect on both their work life and their private life. Employees will often object to this type of change because of the loss of the allowances for shift work and weekend work, and because there is less job security.
‘’That is why, when self-rostering is being introduced, it is important to explain the long-term advantages of self-rostering to overcome any short-term anxiety.’’
It is important for employers to remember that the introduction of self-rostering is an investment, and not a just a way of saving money. Although of course it will save money in the long term because it will lead to a better alignment between size of the workforce and the actual workload. The introduction of self-rostering can cause unrest throughout the entire organisation, which may jeopardise the success of the project. It is therefore crucial to get the backing of the entire organisation (works council, unions, HR, management, workers) if it is to be a success. Open and transparent communication with the employees is therefore essential when introducing self-rostering, because if the reasons for the change are not communicated in a clear and consistent way, then it could cause confusion and lead to resistance. It is also the reason why many projects fail.
Déhora can help organisations with the implementation of self-rostering above all by engaging all the employees in each department in the change process. An initial scoping meeting will look at the various aspects of the change process, including the concerns of the employees and how the culture of the organisation will have to change. Then information sessions and/or walk-in surgeries will be organised, and if necessary 1-on-1 sessions to find out what would be the ideal shift roster for each employee. Déhora will then make any necessary modifications to the shift roster, and draw up the rules in relation to taking holidays, weekend shifts, the Working Hours Act, shift allowances, etc. that will apply after self-rostering is introduced. A working group with representatives from the management, the works council, and HR managers will be set up, as well as a steering group and a focus group (with employees). In this way the entire organisation will be involved in the project, and it will be clear to everyone that it will take a joint effort in order for the project to succeed. Where necessary, Déhora can provide (support) training courses and advise you about the best planning software for your organisation.
On average, it takes around 3 to 5 months to prepare a pilot project, and the project itself takes around 18 months to complete, including the start-up and evaluation. Déhora can also assist you with the evaluation of the project, and provide you with any other resources you might need.
“The change process itself can also be quite enjoyable, something people often forget. And after a while everyone starts to see the advantages.’’