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The 5 Most Common Rostering and Scheduling Mistakes New Managers Make

A well-designed roster will optimise wages, ensure awards compliance and improve both staff satisfaction and service levels – yet this is easier said than done

rostering mistakes

Rostering and scheduling can be complex, with managers required to consider anything from staff certifications to the time between shifts. Requirements vary according to the awards, and the guidance is often extremely long. New managers, who are still learning the ins-and-outs of your company as well as the quirks of different award systems, are particularly likely to make mistakes. 

Let’s explore the most common rostering and scheduling errors made by new (and sometimes not so new) managers and how your company can avoid them.


1. Over- or Under-Scheduling Staff

Scheduling too many staff members can eat away at profit margins, with labour representing many businesses’ biggest cost. Yet under-scheduling can leave staff struggling and customers frustrated. In the long term, it may result in a lower staff retention rate and decreased morale.


Managers need to accurately predict the required number of staff and introduce good processes for handling no-shows. For new managers, who can’t draw on previous experience at your company, this isn’t easy.


Workforce management systems should analyse past absenteeism and compare that to service level requirements to accurately predict how many staff members you really need to schedule. You should also add external data such as PoS, site or booking systems data to the roster to help you stay on budget.


If someone doesn’t show up for their shift, not only will you get instant notice, but software will automatically suggest the most appropriate cover based on availability information.  If you WFM software doesn’t allow you to do this in seconds then you should review its appropriateness for your business. 


As the Queensland Hotel Grand Chancellor says, “With Humanforce, we now always have the right amount of staff on each shift.”


2. Using Pen-and-Paper or Excel Rosters

Pen-and-paper or Excel rosters may work well for small businesses, but medium and large organisations shouldn’t rely on them. They’re prone to errors, reader-unfriendly, with huge amounts of black text and poor visual presentation that makes it hard to see the bigger picture – or spot issues.


It’s too easy to accidentally fill in the wrong column, look at the wrong row or simply not realise when someone is scheduled twice on the same day. Add handwriting mistakes or typos, the risk of overlooking updates, and accidental file deletion to the mix, and it’s a disaster in waiting.


Our simple, drag-and-drop roster builder means you can see what’s going on at a glance. It will also alert you of any potential scheduling clashes or award errors. You can even micro-schedule short-duration tasks and breaks – and build costing, mandatory qualifications, award requirements, reminders and more into them.  You need a system that is smart and learns what your requirements are and automates this task and does the heavy lifting for your managers. 

3. Not Communicating Well With Staff

Good rostering and scheduling is useless if staff aren’t aware of their shifts. Whether it’s because someone didn’t check the schedule, it was sent out late or a manager forgot a worker had booked days off, it’s a surprisingly common error.


As one general manager explained, “On a busy day when a million and one things were going on, you’d find someone hadn’t turned up. And then you’d realise the reason they hadn’t turned up was because you hadn’t told them to.”


Humanforce automatically emails staff members about their roster and updates it on the app so that workers can always see where, when and for how long they’re due to work. There’s also a built-in messaging system that managers can use to check in with staff.


Any system or app needs to works well for workers, too. Casual workers need to input their preferred work hours, set themselves as unavailable on certain days and times and bid on overtime shifts through the app. With more than 33% of workers frustrated by a lack of flexibility for swapping, dropping and picking up shifts, this can dramatically improve staff motivation and employee engagement 


4. Misunderstanding or Incorrectly Calculating Awards

Australia’s modern awards system can be convoluted: the general hospitality award alone has 100’s of  different pay points, while the general retail industry award takes pages to detail all of them. Pay rates depend not just on the worker’s role and status, but also on the number of hours worked, the days and dates worked, the time of day, the number of hours since their last shift and more. It’s no surprise that managers make mistakes. 


For new managers, it’s all too easy to overlook requirements or miss opportunities to cut costs. They might schedule staff members in such a way that results in overtime rates or additional allowances for food, when a small tweak to the roster – an extra hour between shifts or finishing the shift 30 minutes earlier – would remove this necessity. 


Even more worryingly, they can overlook the maximum work hours, which can result in hefty fines for awards non-compliance.


With the Humanforce workforce management system, you can input workers’ awards statuses. The software will take this into account when auto-scheduling staff members and calculating shift costs, plus it will alert you of potential compliance issues.


5. Underestimating the Workload 

Compliant rosters can take days to create, and that’s not counting the time needed to send the schedules out, find shift cover and reschedule someone who’s accidentally been booked in for a day they’re unavailable. 


When new managers underestimate the workload, they can find themselves rushing to complete the roster on time and then sending it out at the last minute. This increases the risk of errors and absenteeism and inconveniences workers.


With Humanforce’s  workforce management software, it takes on average 78% less time to build a complex roster that will get the right staff members to the right locations at the right times. Your workforce will operate smoothly and cost-efficiently – and your HR team will have less work, fewer headaches and reduced stress.


Get in touch today to discover how our rostering and scheduling solutions could work for your business. We’ll be happy to set up a free, personalised demo.




Almost every shift has its no-shows, late arrivals, and special requests, but, you’ve also got to deal with the big shifts in how people work – everything from new employee expectations to new technologies, new regulations, and other major changes. Humanforce brings a whole new approach to managing your teams where you can simplify the process, see everything at once, and stay ahead of the curve. That’s why thousands of businesses of all sizes – hotels to hospitals, resources to recreation, stadiums to shops and more - use Humanforce to get ready for the next shift.