Creating a good rota is essential for business performance and keeping your employees happy. Feel like you haven’t cracked it yet? Read our top tips for scheduling your employees effectively and building a rota that meets your needs. 

Table of contents
  1. What Is a Staff Rota?
  2. What Makes a Good Work Rota?
  3. 9 Tips for Creating an Effective Rota
  4. Rota Creation Best Practices 

Creating a staff rota is a delicate balancing act. Not only do you need to take into account employee availability and skill sets, but you also have to consider your business’s needs. Substandard scheduling leads to understaffing, overstaffing, and a poor customer experience. This can affect your bottom line and employee morale. Last-minute changes can make matters worse and leave both employees and managers stressed and confused. 

A well-designed rota is key to avoiding all this. Managers know they have enough staff and employees receive their preferred shifts. Plus, an organized rota can help prevent employee burnout and reduce the likelihood of absenteeism. This improves productivity and reduces labor costs.

In this article, we take you through how to create a staff rota that keeps your business running smoothly and your employees happy. 

What Is a Staff Rota?

A staffing rota—also known as a roster or schedule—sets out all the information relating to your employees’ shifts. This includes shift start and finish times, location, breaks, and any specific tasks to be completed. 

A range of industries use rota systems—such as hospitality, construction, retail, and field services. There are also various types of flexible work schedules employers can use. These include compressed, split-shift, or on-call rotas. 

A carefully planned rota supports your business operations and staff morale. As well as helping you avoid under or overstaffing, a well-organized schedule ensures you stay compliant with any relevant labor laws, such as overtime or breaks.

That’s why it’s essential to know how to create a good rota. 

Connecteam makes scheduling a breeze.

Save time and create error-free staff rotas from a central, easy-to-use platform.

What Makes a Good Work Rota?

Accounts for business needs

You need to have enough employees rostered to meet the staffing requirements of your business. This includes accounting for seasonal changes or special events requiring more staff. 

Not only do you need enough staff rostered on, but you also need the right ones. A good rota balances employees’ skill sets. 

Understaffing in terms of numbers or skills puts unnecessary stress on your employees and can affect the quality of their work. At the same time, overstaffing is a quick way to overspend on labor costs.  

Many small businesses use a combination of types of employees, like full-time and part-time workers, on their rota to address their business needs. 

Accommodates employees’ needs

Accommodating the needs of your employees in your rota is crucial for a successful and productive workforce. You should take into account each employee’s availability, preferences, and commitments outside of work. This ensures your employees can balance their work and personal lives. 

Employees are more satisfied when they have a rota that supports their work-life balance. When they feel supported in their personal lives, they are happier in their work. A better work-life balance also reduces employee burnout and turnover, building a longer-lasting workforce. 

Easy to create and simple to read

A good work rota is simple to build and straightforward to understand. 

You don’t want to spend hours every week creating a new rota. You should be able to create and update one quickly and easily. This saves you time and money. It also lets you easily see the hours your employees work and where they are. 

The rota should be equally easy for employees to read and understand. When they can see their scheduled hours at a glance, they know where they need to be and when. 

Fair and balanced

A balanced rota distributes shifts fairly between employees while being inclusive and accommodating. 

Allocating popular shifts to the same people can appear as favoritism. This can foster resentment among other employees. Loading one or two employees up with the majority of shifts can also put them at risk of burnout. 


Last-minute schedule changes are inevitable. Your rota must be flexible enough to accommodate changes due to illness, injury, or carer responsibilities. 

Building some flexibility into your rota also allows for changing business needs. If a new project comes up at short notice, you need the flexibility to add staff to your existing rota. 

Setting up a contingency plan or on-call rota are ways you can accommodate unexpected changes. 

Up-to-date and easily accessible

Employees need to always have access to the most current version of the rota and be notified of any changes to it. Keeping employees informed in real time reduces the risk of scheduling conflicts or employees forgetting a shift. 

Make rotas available to employees as far in advance as possible to help them plan around their shifts. They can also raise any issues at an early stage. You can then address these before a shift starts. 

Good internal communication is key to this, ensuring visibility and transparency. But communication around rotas goes both ways. Make sure employees can get in touch with you immediately when they’re unable to come to work. 

A mobile scheduling solution, like Connecteam, is ideal for sharing rotas and notifying employees of any changes to them. These apps also make it easy for you and your employees to communicate about any scheduling issues.  

9 Tips for Creating an Effective Rota

Plan ahead

Planning is important for both your business and your employees. From a business perspective, it lets you take into account peak periods, employee leave, and other known scheduling issues

You can then give your employees as much notice of the roster as possible. This lets them plan their personal commitments around their shifts. They can also raise and address any rostering issues at an early stage. 

Keep in mind, you may be legally required to give your employees a certain amount of notice of their rota. For example, various US state predictive scheduling laws set out the notice employers have to give their employees. 

In the UK, employers must give employees “advance” notice of their schedule. This is generally understood to mean at least one week’s notice. 

Check your employee’s availability

Ask your employees to register their availability or shift preferences well in advance of creating the rota. This includes time off for planned annual leave, carer responsibilities, and other personal commitments. 

This information allows you to create a rota that reflects your employees’ availability and avoids scheduling conflicts. It also reduces the risk of employees canceling shifts at the last minute or not showing up at all and leaving you understaffed. 

Consider workload balance

When creating a rota, make sure you schedule the right mix of employees with the skill set needed to cover a shift. This will depend on your specific business needs. For example, some shifts may need a certain number of technical, admin, and support staff to run effectively and safely.  

Also, consider the workload balance between your employees. Ensure there is a fair and equal distribution of shifts that reflect employees’ contracts and availability. 

Avoid assigning too many hours to the same staff. This can result in employee fatigue, which can impact their well-being and the quality of their work. Over time, this often leads to burnout. It can also generate resentment among other staff who miss out on hours. 

Offer shift swapping

Illness, accidents, and personal emergencies arise and your rota needs to prepare for them. Shift-swapping is a great way to manage this situation. 

Shift swapping allows employees to switch their shifts with a colleague. When workers find their own replacement like this, it saves you time. It also prevents you from having to scramble to find somebody to cover a shift at the last minute. 

Offering your employees flexibility with their rota creates a more positive work environment. It also gives them more autonomy and encourages them to take responsibility for their scheduling. 

Have a contingency plan

When it comes to staff rotas, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Make sure you have a backup plan in place for if multiple employees call in sick at once or a staff member can’t find anyone to swap a shift with. 

This saves you the time and stress of having to come up with a drastic solution in a short amount of time. 

This is especially important for certain industries like medical or tech. These industries often use on-call rotas to ensure there are always backup staff available if needed. 

Use rota templates

Templates are a good way to automate your rota system, saving you time and money. With staff rota templates, you can quickly replicate a rota and make any necessary changes in a few clicks. This avoids having to create one from scratch, which can be a time-consuming process. 

You can customize templates to suit the needs of your department or team, making them an ideal tool for managing complex scheduling. They help you keep track of employee preferences and recurring availability. 

Using rota templates can also create scheduling predictability for your employees. They know what to expect in terms of their work schedule each week, fortnight, or month. This helps reduce any stress your employees have around scheduling and lets them make personal plans in advance. 

Regularly review your rota

While templates are a useful scheduling tool, it’s also important to regularly review your rota. Make sure it continues to strike a balance between your business’s needs and your employees’ preferences and availability.  

Check in with your employees and get their feedback to find out if the rota is working for them. This helps you maintain employee satisfaction around scheduling. Employees have the opportunity to raise any concerns and feel heard by their employer. 

Keep compliance in mind

A staffing rota also makes it easy to keep track of statutory leave your employees are entitled to including paid time off (PTO), parental leave, and sick leave. It can also help you track any necessary information for compliance purposes such as staff working hours, overtime, breaks, and absences. 

For example, in the UK, employees who work 6 or more hours a day are entitled to at least one 20-minute rest break. Workers must also have 11 hours of rest between working days.

You can also ensure you have any mandatory-qualified employees rostered on, such as staff with first-aid qualifications or fire marshals. This approach keeps your employees safe and also helps you avoid any penalties for non-compliance. 

Use a dedicated rota app

Investing in mobile scheduling software is a game-changer when it comes to building a great staff rota.

With employee scheduling software such as Connecteam, you can create and manage schedules on the go from any device, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. You can easily track employee availability, shift swaps, time off requests, and more.

When you use Connecteam as your rota software, you can:

  • Let employees update their availability in real time
  • Store employee information, including contact details and planned time off
  • Share rotas and shift changes with employees right away
  • Send reminders to employees for their upcoming shifts
  • Automatically flag any compliance issues such as mandatory breaks or overtime
  • See the total number of hours worked by employees
  • Let employees make leave requests directly from the app
  • Simplify your shift scheduling by automatically flagging scheduling problems
  • Includes time and attendance tracking features

With Connecteam’s scheduling software, you can say goodbye to spreadsheets and manual scheduling, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors.

Connecteam’s intuitive interface makes it easy to create, update, and distribute schedules, ensuring that all employees have access to their shifts at all times.

Plus, you can streamline your communication efforts by sending updates, push notifications, and alerts to your employees directly through the app.

Try Connecteam 14 days for free today and build a the best staff rota for your team with ease!

Rota Creation Best Practices 

Getting your rota for staff right is important. Poor rota management can lead to scheduling conflicts, employees missing shifts, and understaffing. This affects employee morale, productivity, and your bottom line. 

There are several easy steps you can take to build rotas that work better for you and your employees.

Collecting employees’ availability and planning ahead helps you avoid some of these issues from the outset.

Meanwhile, templates and shift-swapping options make rota planning and creation easy. Additionally, using a mobile app to centrally manage your rotas saves you even more time, effort, and money. 

Building the best rota for staff minimizes disruptions and ensures shifts run smoothly. Most importantly, they keep your staff happy and fulfilled. 

Get started with a free 14-day trial of Connecteam now! (No credit card required)

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