Knowing your team is the key to planning three weeks ahead


4 min read

Knowing your team is the key to planning three weeks ahead

Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson

Mar 25, 2024


    Giving your team plenty of notice around their shift patterns is one of the easiest, most impactful ways of making their lives better – and to keep hold of the best talent.

    A lack of planning means 68% of employees have considered switching to another industry – almost exactly the same amount as the 69% of people who only get a week or less notice of their next shift. Coincidence...?

    While planning two weeks ahead is a great start, your team (and business) should start seeing the true benefits of planning ahead after getting their schedules 22 days in advance.

    Sick leave drops, presenteeism plummets and productivity soars. And we’re getting close to that magic number.

    To reach that milestone, you should take a step back and see what lessons your planning process has taught you so far. Most importantly, what have you learned about your team? Have there been any surprises?

    Only by fully understanding your colleagues and the way they like to work can you build a three week schedule that works for everyone. Here are some questions to ask as you aim for that all-important three-week rota.

    Did your team know themselves as well as they thought?

    Don’t worry, this isn’t some big philosophical question! When building the foundations of your one-week rota, you probably spent some time thinking about your team, what they’re good at, what they enjoy doing and what shifts they like to work.

    Have you learned anything new since planning further ahead? Maybe the front of house member who thought they wanted to work every weekend now realises that, with better planning, it’s the ideal time to see friends and would like to work a few less shifts.

    At the moment, only 24% of employees get two consecutive days off once every fortnight on average, with one in 10 only getting that every 2-3 months. Perhaps having more consecutive days off has meant the bar person, who always thought they worked better in the nights, has had some proper rest and thinks they’d work better on an earlier shift.

    It’s always important to be flexible and adapt. Take a moment to speak to your team about what they have learned about themselves and try to make changes to the rotas accordingly.

    If your team is able to see three-weeks ahead and know their preferences are being considered, their lives will immediately become more manageable and less stressful – it‘s that simple.

    Is everyone being heard?

    In any team, there will be people who are happy to speak up and those who need a bit more encouragement.

    Don’t assume that just because someone hasn’t said something about their preferences or how they would like to work that everything is spot on for them.

    Put some time aside to speak privately with quieter team members. It doesn’t have to be a big formal meeting – some of the most honest and open conversations can happen over a casual coffee or a lunchtime stroll.

    By keeping an eye on how your team members contribute to the rota planning, you can make sure that everyone has their ideas and preferences heard. It also ensures your three-week plan will be more robust, with people less likely to try and swap things around at the last minute to accommodate preferences they didn't feel able to speak about.

    Does the rota work for you as well?

    When spending so much time thinking about your team, it can be easy to overlook how things affect you and your own mental health. After all, managers and senior staff are also part of the retention crisis that’s leaving 52% of UK shift employees planning to leave their current job.

    Take some weight off your shoulders and make sure that rota planning is a truly collaborative process. Speak to your team about your needs and make sure they also put some time aside to plan their time ahead. It shouldn’t be on you to be chasing people for information every time you need to do a rota.

    Likewise, let your team know about any plans or any shifts you can’t, or would rather not work well in advance. Just because you are the senior person doesn’t mean you should always be on call to cover any unfilled shifts or work crazily long hours.

    By letting your team know you have some time off coming up, or that you will be uncontactable during certain periods, they can ask any questions in advance and put things in place to ensure you get the rest and relaxation you need.

    Look after yourself. Only when you’re firing on all cylinders can you expect your team to be doing the same. Only 17% of businesses currently give their team notice of their shift patterns 2-3 weeks before – now's the time for you to help this number grow.

    Sign the planning ahead pledge

    How to make The Single Biggest Shift

    © 2004 - 2024 Planday