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A schedule, often called a rota or roster, is a list of employees who are working on any given day, week, or month in a workplace. A schedule is necessary for the day-to-day operation of any retail store, manufacturing facility and some offices. The process of creating a schedule is called scheduling. An effective workplace schedule balances the needs of stakeholders such as management, employees and customers.
A daily schedule is usually ordered chronologically, which means the first employees working that day are listed at the top, followed by the employee who comes in next, etc. A weekly or monthly schedule is usually ordered alphabetically, employees being listed on the left hand side of a grid, with the days of the week on the top of the grid. In shift work, a schedule usually employs a recurring shift plan.
A schedule is most often created by a manager. In larger operations, a human resources manager or scheduling specialist may be solely dedicated to writing the schedule. A schedule by this definition is sometimes referred to as workflow.1
In some cases scheduling software is used to allow organizations to better manage staff scheduling. Organizations commonly use spreadsheet software or employee scheduling software to create and manage shifts, assignments, and employee preferences. For large organisations employee scheduling can be complex,2 and optimising this is framed as the Nurse scheduling problem in Operations Research.3 Advanced employee scheduling software also provides ways to connect with the staff, ask for their preferences and communicate the schedule to them.4
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