Automated staff rostering: How does It work and why do you need it?


Automated staff rostering: How does it work and why do you need it? 

Managing staff in shift-based workplaces typically means managing administration and compliance. For operations and roster managers, it also means creating rosters. Although this task is critical for the smooth running of a business, it can be a drain on time – especially if the following challenges are in place: 

  • The creation of rosters is done manually, often using spreadsheets 

  • Filling shifts requires a manager to make numerous phone calls to staff to check availability, etc. 

  • Communicating updates or changes to rosters is done either by phoning people or putting up notices in common areas in the workplace 

  • There is little consideration given to worker preferences as to where and when they wish to work 

It doesn’t have to be like this. Automated rostering & scheduling software has made roster creation more efficient, easing the burden on overstretched managers and giving workers more autonomy and choice around their work hours. 

What Is Automated Staff Rostering and How Does It Work?

Automated staff rostering is the use of software, and in some cases AI, to automatically create staff schedules. It cuts down the labour-intensive work of manually scheduling staff, while also ensuring that shifts are compliant.

Here’s how it works: you input your staffing requirements and per-shift budgets into the software. Then either you or the workers themselves add their availability to the system.

Next, a fully costed and compliant schedule is produced. The software always looks for the best worker for each shift, taking into account their availability, award and industry-specific compliance, costs and certifications.

After you’ve made any changes you want and signed off on the schedule, it’s shared with workers.

The automation doesn’t stop here, however. If shift cover is needed or someone wishes to swap shifts, the system will automatically find the best potential replacements. You can let this happen automatically, with workers bidding for shifts and the system updating them, or you can set it so that all shift swap requests go through management.

What Are The Business Benefits of Automated Rostering Software?

Automated rostering has numerous benefits, including:

Reduced Labour Costs

Automated rostering typically leads to fewer incidences of overstaffing and less reliance on expensive short-term cover. Managers will always have the most cost-efficient schedules at the touch of a button. What’s more, they will be able to see the bigger picture – meaning they will be less likely to get mired down in the smaller details and overlook potential issues.

Less HR Stress

Software-based scheduling will free up HR staff and team managers to focus on the important things, like customer service and worker engagement. As the number of hours they spend staring at spreadsheets and draft rosters falls, their job satisfaction and fulfilment will also increase.

Fewer Scheduling and Rostering Issues

Errors are expensive, stress staff out and can cause compliance issues. They are also surprisingly common.

Automated software, however, significantly reduces the risk of human error. If it’s AI software driven, it can accurately forecast and make data-based scheduling and rostering decisions, with increasing accuracy over time – meaning you’re less likely to be surprised by fluctuating labour demand.

Moreover, when someone is absent or late, managers can immediately see that and take action.

A Happier, More Motivated Workforce

Automated rostering software cuts down on scheduling and communication errors while taking workers’ preferences into account. It’s less stressful for staff members, plus it demonstrates that the company cares about them. In turn, businesses see less worker fatigue, higher engagement rates, improved retention rates and better performance and productivity.

Reduced No-Shows and Late Starts

With automated rostering, you can create schedules that work for employees as well as managers. This also facilitates smooth, automated communications, with staff receiving schedules with plenty of notice. As a result, absenteeism and unpunctuality rates tend to fall.

Improved Quality of Service

Understaffing is minimised while staff members are engaged and energised. In turn, customers receive excellent service.

Key features of automated rostering software to look out for 

When assessing potential software providers, it’s important to find a solution that will meet your unique business needs. Ensure you get insights into the features and functionality of the software on offer. For example, Humanforce’s Rostering & Scheduling solution enables roster managers and HR to: 

  • Accelerate the roster creation process by automatically accounting for all staff preferences, leave dates, availability and qualifications 

  • Boost compliance with industry and government regulations, thanks to seamless integration with Humanforce’s Awards & Compliance solution 

  • Instantly see on screen the financial costs of rostering decisions. This helps to control minimum and maximum hour limits across timeframes, date ranges, qualifications, awards, and more 

  • Utilise templates to automate the manual roster creation processes 

  • Use extensive workforce and business data to predict demand and optimise use of human resources, reducing the need to rely on agency staff. This might include data sources from POS systems, booking and reservation systems and other business intelligence systems 

  • Empower team members to easily bid on and swap shifts, and manage schedules via the Humanforce Work App 

  • Streamline and automate rostering for managers with notifications when roster conflicts or issues occur, including alerts when attempts are made to roster workers who don’t have appropriate or up-to-date qualifications 

  • Stay compliant with capacity and demand-based warnings – ideal for industries with mandated staffing requirements such as aged care or childcare 

Other considerations


When choosing rostering & scheduling software, it’s important to consider integration with other HR, workforce management and business intelligence platforms. Most vendors will offer an open application programming interface (API), which allows you to build your own integrations between systems, provided they both support the API and you’ve either got some in-house programming talent, or you are prepared to pay a third party to do this. 

If the Humanforce best-in-one HCM suite is being used, users naturally have the option of utilising other solutions within the suite (which includes workforce management tools like time & attendance and leave management, payroll, and HR management tools like performance management and core HR), or using the API to integrate with existing software.  

Reporting and analytics 

Workforce management software can be a repository of valuable data, enabling users to spot trends as well as threats and opportunities. Effective rostering & scheduling thrives on historical data as knowing past trends (such as demand) can help create more accurate and cost-effective rosters. It’s not just having access to data – it’s how you use it. Today’s workforce management software, like that offered by Humanforce, should provide a range of reports to drill down on specific metrics of interest and provide insights to the business.  

For example, Humanforce’s customisable report dashboard can produce reports showing no-shows, tardiness, absenteeism, shift uptake rates (and declines), causes of unauthorised timesheets, costs and sales budgets, and many more insights.  


Every business has unique needs, which are sometimes shaped by compliance or other regulatory requirements. Your rostering & scheduling software should be fully customisable to meet your requirements.  

Here are just two examples of how customisable Humanforce’s Rostering & Scheduling solution is, based on two industries that have strictly mandated staffing requirements. 

Childcare & early learning: Humanforce makes it easy to track staff availability and leave entitlements while also allowing for the scheduling of contact time (working with children), non-contact time (for admin tasks, planning, etc.), and floating break coverage. Our Demand Planning feature matches staff to operational requirements, providing a count of staff with required qualifications and assisting with compliance obligations relating to room ratios and under-roof ratios. Our templates allow for the creation of a base roster with a standard pattern of shifts, while Gantt charts make it easier to view who’s working where and when, ensuring shifts are never under- or over-staffed. 

Aged care: Our templates allow for the creation of a base roster with a standard pattern of shifts, and shift bidding empowers staff to take control of their schedules. The end result is seamless, compliant rostering that helps managers meet mandated care minutes with a registered nurse, in accordance with AN-ACC classifications.  

Potential challenges to overcome 

When implementing automated rostering systems, it’s important to remember that you may be asking seasoned professionals to change some of the foundational aspects of their work. It’s natural to get some pushback.  

In those instances, emphasise the ‘what’s in it for me’ (WIIFM) factor. It might be time savings, it might be having easy access to real-time reports, or it might be the work-life balance benefits of more efficient and equitable rostering. All stakeholders, whether they are executives, managers or employees, will want to know:  

  • How will this software resolve my challenges? 

  • How will this new system help me perform better?  

  • What are the tangible benefits for me in my daily job?  

  • How will it affect my team, my customers, my suppliers, etc.? 


A change management plan will articulate the need for change, help people prepare and plan for the change (including any training required), how the change will be implemented (including detailed action plans for who’s doing what), and finally, sustaining the change to ensure people are actually using the tech.  

For more insights, download our digital transformation eBook here. 

Tips for overcoming resistance to change 

Some people will resist change with all their might. They will only come onboard if they are repeatedly pushed and incentivised to do so. You could try to: 


  • Clarify how they stand to benefit from the new tech. For example, time savings, greater flexibility, better work-life balance. Remember, every employee is different! 

  • Involve these individuals from the start and encourage them to provide their feedback – that means there’s no way for them to claim “I wasn’t involved” or “You didn’t listen to me!” 

  • Offer more support. These workers may need a bit more handholding and one-on-one sessions. Their reluctance might simply come down to fear of doing the wrong thing. 

  • Be empathetic. You may be asking experienced workers to give up the way they’ve previously undertaken tasks. Some empathy can go a long way. 

  • Make it fun. Consider a gamification approach whereby employees accumulate points, gain financial incentives or achieve new levels of ‘status’. 


By getting to know your employees, actively listening, challenging perceptions and ultimately gaining their trust, it’s possible your laggards might become change champions. 

Case studies 

Humanforce has been taking the pain out of rostering for more than 20 years. We know the challenges you’re likely to be facing and how smart software can resolve those challenges. Here are some companies we’ve helped by automating their rostering & scheduling processes.

Gorilla Events
McHugh Steel

How to Get Started With Automated Staff Rostering

In summary, switching to automated staff rostering is quick and simple, but there are a couple of important things to do first: 

  1. Look for a system that either integrates with or can replace your existing systems, from payroll through to communications channels. Ensure it is capable of handling modern awards and other areas of compliance. 

  2. Next, get everyone on the team on board by underlining the benefits for them, whether they’re a manager or worker. 

  3. Finally, get in touch with an automated staff rostering software provider like Humanforce and ask for a free demo

Automated staff rostering is a win-win situation: your costs are reduced, your staff are happier, and your quality of service is improved. New technology, such as AI and demand-based rostering, are creating increasingly intelligent schedules that help your company focus on the important things rather than the paperwork. 

About Humanforce 

Humanforce is the best-in-one platform for frontline and flexible workforces, offering a truly employee centred, intelligent and compliant human capital management (HCM) suite – without compromise. Founded in 2002, Humanforce has a 2300+ customer base and over half a million users worldwide. Today, we have offices across Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. 


Our vision is to make work easier and life better by focusing on the needs and fulfilment of frontline workers, and the efficiency and optimisation of businesses. 


Contact us today to learn more about the potential ROI of adopting a HCM suite and discover how Humanforce can automate and simplify all aspects of people management in your organisation.