Tackling volatile pay with demand-led rostering & annualised hours

A recent study by The Resolution Foundation hit the headlines after it found that a large portion of UK employees on zero and short-hours contracts have experienced volatile pay at least once throughout 2016-17.

With reports suggesting the number of these types of contracts rose by 100,000 across the UK in the last year alone, the stress this uncertainty causes is unfortunately becoming an increasingly common feature of shift working.

The study makes it clear that: 

• The average absolute monthly change in pay across all months was £180 (10 per cent) in 2016-17.

• There needs to be a minimum forward notice for changes to employee shift patterns.

• Employees are facing uncertainty-related anxieties due to this volatility in their hours and pay.

What can be done?

Working Time Solutions has long argued that organisations which depend on zero hour contracts to meet fluctuating demand need to look at alternative resourcing models that support productivity and shift worker wellbeing.

Demand-led rostering strategies, including annualised hours systems, can deliver operational flexibility (through mechanisms such as seasonal shift patterns and reserve hours flex) and crucially, increased predictability for employees around which hours they will be required to work and what pay they will take home.

Annualised Hours must be well planned, designed, implemented,managed and remain aligned to demand

However, these approaches must be well planned, designed, implemented and managed if they are to remain aligned to demand…and therefore be successful. Too often they are poorly conceived, rushed and imposed on workforces rather than developed in conjunction with them (through engagement and co-design).

Fully-optimised demand-led rostering and annualised hours systems can provide an effective and fair alternative to zero and short-hours contracts, delivering flexibility for the organisation during peak times, whilst offering employees a yearly salary and more stable pay at the end of every month.

These resourcing methods can also reduce overtime/agency worker costs and reduce the considerable administrative, payroll and compliance overheads related to managing zero hours contacts.

You can find out much more about the topic in our report 'Annualised Hours...a brief introduction to this efficient approach to resourcing’.

Workforce management is key

Designing an annualised hours system that reduces pay volatility and provides certainty around working time

Whilst implementing demand-led rostering can stabilize employee pay, maintaining a capable workforce management and scheduling system is vital to ensuring it delivers.

The effective management of shift workers in an annualised hours framework requires:

Capability: Can your approach workforce planning and management efficiently & effectively manage rotating and seasonal shift patterns?

Visibility: Does your system provide transparency over cover, potential gaps and give employees fair notice over their shifts and any changes that need to be made?

Accuracy: Can your system provide a single, central, live database of all hours worked that supports compliance and accurate payroll?

Engagement: Does your system communicate with shift workers around their hours, enabling them to book holidays, flag availability and swap shifts from their own mobile phone?

Attempting to manage a demand-led rostering and annualised hours system with multiple spreadsheets or inadequate workforce management systems poses significant administrative challenges and a high risk of errors.

This is why we developed WORKSuite®, specialist software designed to help organisations better plan, manage and monitor their shift workers.

It provides the shift pattern design, scheduling, roster management, compliance and analytics tools needed to deliver and maintain effective annualised hours and demand-led rostering systems.

If you’d like to find out more about the technology and insight needed to deliver alternatives to zero hour contracts, contact us directly or book a free one-to-one consultation.

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