Building for Fairness

Early on in our business, as we looked for things that were missing in competitors products, we kept coming back to the concept of fairness. The need to create a fair roster is obvious, but how could we approach building this into a software application? As a staff member, the frustration of copping a roster that had them working yet another weekend, or always being scheduled on school holidays seemed like the easy thing to reach for but after discussion with employers and employees we realised we needed something much more complex, but that was totally invisible to everyone.

Employers Perspective

Employers are looking for something that help remove bias from the planning process. Claims of roster bullying are difficult to defend and bias towards individuals (whether intentional or not) is hard to edit out of the roster process. Our observation across a wide variety of industries that that almost all roster planners show some bias in building the roster that leaves “fingerprints” in the plan that staff can see. If building a roster on time isn’t stressful enough, you are always judged by who’s having to work when!

Employees Perspective

Staff watch their roster like a hawk and their memory of who worked over Christmas and who got all the good shifts is as detailed as someone watching the stockmarket picks.  

Our Approach

We found over years of working with clients that the best approach is a subtle one. Our fairness test is the 3rd focus of our planning methodology, incorporating the hard rules regarding employers needs, the staff preferences for working hours and guiding decisions with a fairness test to ensure that bias can be removed from the process. This builds a workable roster than meets business needs but ensures claims of bias can be removed the the equation.

Additionally, the fairness test prevents anyone from “gaming” the roster by setting preferences to take all the favourable shifts. The test can encompass all sorts of measure from ensuring a balance or AM and PM shifts, identifying who worked over key holiday periods or who last worked a night duty or did a weekend shift. Planning choices can then be made against the backdrop of other selection criteria to override who might otherwise be selected to ensure balance is maintained. This provides an excellent safety net for employers and helps build staff morale as you can demonstrate that their requests are fairly assessed each and every time a roster is run.  


Interested to learn more about how we can help you?

About the Author

John Webster

John is the founder and CEO of CoRoster. He has a Masters of Management in Information Technology and is fascinated about motivational theory, staff engagement and the interface between people and technology. John founded CoRoster to look for ways to improve people's work/life balance.

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