Being a line manager is no easy task. Leading a team means splitting your time between strategic jobs and staff development – and admin can interfere with supporting people’s needs.

One way that line managers lighten the workload is by using a staff roster template to create employee schedules. But templated shift plans don’t guarantee success. A ‘quick fix’ can easily go wrong if you’re not using the right systems to manage your staffing requirements.

To help you avoid scheduling issues, we’ve compiled a list of seven major mistakes that line managers often make when planning shifts. We’ll also be discussing how to make a staff roster template that avoids these pitfalls:

1. Not updating shift plans in line with business needs

Creating a template for shift planning is a great way to save time and effort on staff scheduling. However, a ‘one size fits all’ approach only works if your workload remains the same throughout the year.

In reality, most companies will have daily, weekly or seasonal peaks – all of which require a different staffing setup. Using the same staff roster template for each day of the year may sometimes feel like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

If you’re trying to reduce the time spent on shift planning, it’s a good idea to create several different versions of your staff rota. This will give you an outline schedule for various workload scenarios that you can adapt to fit your daily business needs.

2. Using templates that are hard to access, create and update

Even if you’ve recognised the need for greater flexibility, adapting your staff roster template can be easier said than done. Many line managers are fighting with manual templates or rigid shift planners that can’t easily transform to meet their needs.

In this situation, the most effective solution is investing in better software. Rather than ‘making do’ with a sub-par system, a digital shift pattern generator like WhosOffice can deliver the flexibility your company needs while still using roster templates.

3. Not communicating shift changes to staff

A well-organised staff roster template only works if people know about it!

When making last-minute changes, it’s easy to forget to share the latest version. A digital shift pattern planner like WhosOffice enhances staff updates, as each team member can log on and check their schedule.

As data is stored centrally in the cloud, you can feel confident your workforce is always viewing accurate information. Nobody should miss a shift through a lack of information.

4. Failing to share the whole team’s shift plan

Teamwork is pivotal to productivity. Yet many companies still share individual schedules with each member of staff.

Building templates through a team shift planner like WhosOffice gives your department 360-degree visibility over who else is working alongside them daily. This level of transparency will reassure them that an adequate number of people have been rostered, and they can plan workload and meetings based on who’s available that day.

It also means your colleagues can follow up with anyone who doesn’t show up for their shift – so it’s not always the line manager’s responsibility!

5. Not keeping rotas

Managing the staff roster is just one job on a very long list for busy line managers. The way you format shift plans might seem clear when you’re creating the schedule, but it’s easily forgotten when you’re pulled into the next task.

With a shift pattern planner, you can formalise and store the best templates for your business, so they’re ready to select further down the line. This helps you to implement rostering best practices while reducing your admin burden.

6. Not listening to how staff want to work

Building a great shift plan means balancing multiple demands – from workload and resourcing to staff skills and availability. But many line managers are so focused on meeting budget and contractual requirements that they forget the personal needs of staff members.

Listening to your team and creating templates around their circumstances can improve productivity, morale and company loyalty. For example, a team member with children may prefer late shifts as they can pick their kids up from school beforehand. Equally, an employee suffering from a chronic health condition or fatigue may find it difficult to manage night shifts or early starts.

Capturing this information through a digital shift planning system allows you to create staff roster templates that work for you AND your direct reports.

7. Not planning rosters in enough detail

Creating a template for staff rosters makes scheduling much quicker and simpler to roll out. But it only translates into a smoothly run business operation if it can factor in variables like people’s availability and workload.

A market-leading shift planning tool should include a module for managing annual leave, to ensure your template delivers in practice. Even the best-designed shift plan breaks down if you’re trying to roster someone who’s on holiday!

WhosOffice features both a built-in staff holiday planner and two-way staff communication tools so you can advertise and fill any staffing gaps.

WhosOffice also helps you make the most of the skillset you curate each shift through task planning and management tools. This helps you to make sure essential tasks are covered by the right number of people, and that skilled jobs are assigned to people with the correct qualifications or level of experience.

Turbo-charge your staff rostering with WhosOffice

If you’ve fallen into any of the shift planning traps we’ve just mentioned, don’t worry. WhosOffice can help you create and adapt roster templates to your daily business needs.

Our shift pattern generator turbo-charges the scheduling process by letting you create templates that match your operational requirements. You can cross-reference the template with critical information such as who’s booked leave and how many people you’ve rostered at each level of seniority, editing your schedule to maximise productivity without overstaffing.

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Phot by Dziana Hasanbekava of