5 rostering software features that help you balance care, cost and culture

September 27, 2021 | Workforce Management

By Tom Murphy, Head of Solutions

A well-balanced roster helps providers deliver quality care, stay on top of costs, and even improve staff engagement.

It’s no easy task to ensure resident care needs are met, staff have a schedule they’re willing to work, and the budget is balanced. All whilst staying compliant with Fair Work and Aged Care legislation.

The benefits of using the right tools to manage rosters extend beyond meeting budgets and delivering high quality care.

In their August 2021 report, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) estimates there will be a shortfall of 110,000 workers by 2030. This estimate is based on the required workforce growth of 2% annually and delivery of at least 200 minutes of direct care per resident per day by October 2023.

Employee retention will be an important factor in addressing this shortfall and the key to retention is engagement. The foundation of employee engagement is recognition and trust: do my contributions matter? Am I being treated fairly?

Trust with employees can be built through transparency of information and fostering ownership over their work. In the context of scheduling, this means better visibility of shifts, self-service options to manage availability, and of course being paid correctly and on time.

Fortunately, the right software can reduce the admin burden and create more engaged teams. Here are the five key features we recommend when choosing a rostering platform.

1. In-built award interpretation

Costing rosters with modern awards in mind is complex. Traditionally, wage calculations are completed by payroll but award interpretation at the point of rostering means you can plan your labour spend more effectively. Without this, you’re most likely missing opportunities to find cost-efficiencies and finding out about payroll errors the hard way.

Even with the best preparation, not all rosters go to plan. Unplanned leave, sudden changes in care and unexpected events can all throw off careful planning. However, a rostering platform that shows updated costs as changes happen prevents surprise overspend and gives you time to mitigate before payroll.

A 2019 study by PwC puts worker underpayments in the healthcare and social assistance sector at $220m. Incorrect calculations are unintentional but small mistakes can add up. Perhaps most critically for employees (and your peace of mind!), reliable award calculations in your rostering tool will significantly reduce payroll errors.

With calculations happening throughout the roster, at the end of the period, an award interpreted timesheet will reduce your admin time. Managers can simply approve timesheets and export to payroll in one step.

Selecting a platform like Mirus Works! with a robust award engine will take care of this complexity, allowing better control of costs in real-time and a simplified, accurate payroll process.

2. Optimise how you fill vacant shifts 

To help your business reduce workforce spend, you also need to closely manage your agency costs. An all-too-common scenario is high agency usage despite contracted hours for permanent staff not being met. Organisations that fall into this trap are effectively paying twice for the same hours.

A rostering platform should provide visibility over contracted hours as well as streamline the shift-fill process. Shift offer functionality should help you find the right people to fill every shift quickly and ensure optimal coverage across the roster. Even better, with integrated award interpretation costing every shift, you can easily determine the most cost effective to offer the shift.

An optimal process should help you avoid sending blanket notifications to everybody – “I’m a cleaner, why am I receiving RN shifts?”. At the same time, it should also be equitable, rather than relying on the same small group to fill vacant shifts.

Being fair and transparent in this way has a positive impact all round. For an employer, this ensures all contracted hours are utilised and, for an employee, more opportunities to increase their hours if they choose.

The shift offer functionality in Mirus Works! has helped businesses reduce their agency spend by up to 80%. Better still, their people feel more engaged and retention rates are high.

3. Quickly update the roster to changes in demand  

Designing a master roster is a crucial step in the budget process. Identifying who needs to work and when and balancing this cost against income ensures you’re planning to be profitable.

Over time, though, your plan may need to be adaptable. The ebb and flow of occupancy, cycles of planned and unplanned leave, and shifts in acuity can all cause sudden increases in cost or decreases in revenue.

How do you plan for the unexpected and still maintain profitability?

Often the limiting factor to roster agility is lack of flexibility in the tools used. Rostering software should allow you to plan scenarios and quickly make changes as they happen without starting from scratch. Flexible, demand-based planning tools will ensure you’re meeting the changing needs of your residents and employees and allow you to create new rosters in a couple of clicks.

4. Streamline leave management 

Planning a roster also means including room for employees to take time off. This includes having protocols in place around how much notice is required and number of staff taking leave at the same time.

Trying to keep track of leave requests using paper and external systems (particularly around the festive season!) could lead to under-staffing and disappointed employees. A good rostering platform will provide a clear view of leave requests and the affected shifts as well as other requests over the same period. Managers can then approve leave without worrying whether they will be left short-staffed.

With the self-service functionality in Mirus Works! employees take ownership over their availability as leave balances are displayed during the application as well as the shifts affected.

5. Roster rules for compliance 

In addition to preparing rosters that make financial sense, compliance must also be front of mind. When scheduling staff, having a view of the required credentials required for a particular shift is imperative to avoid non-compliance.

To ensure the safety of your staff and residents, tracking credentials will ensure staff have the required registrations, visas and vaccines before they can be rostered. Your rostering platform should be smart enough to alert when mandatory requirements (such as police checks and vaccinations) are missing and prevent you from rostering that person.

You’ll also want to make sure roster rules support your commitment to employee well-being and can be configured to help you stay on top of fatigue and minimise overtime and burnout.​

In summary 

From increasing employee retention in a highly competitive market to optimising your labour spend, the technology you adopt and processes you implement are crucial across all phases of employee management. Rostering software that helps you plan effectively, manage the unexpected and simplify processes ultimately improves profitability and care delivery.

Ready to simplify the complexity of your workforce management?