Staff Scheduling : Two Stage Fixed Shift

Problem: Meeting two objectives, in this case minimising cost and maximising employee satisfaction, in scheduling.

Many organisations staff their personnel according to a number of non-overlapping daily shifts. Manufacturing plants, hospitals, and banks usually have 2 or 3 shifts per day with pre-specified durations and starting times. For example, a hospital might have 3 daily shifts, each 8 hours in length, with 8:00 am, 4:00 pm, and midnight as the starting times. In this model, you need to fill these shifts at the lowest cost - which is to say, with minimal overstaffing.

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Another consideration is that worker preferences for certain shifts should be satisfied as much as possible. In fact, these may be not only preferences, but requirements under union work agreements. Here's a two-stage model for this specific situation.

The first stage is to determine the lowest-cost schedule that meets all staffing requirements. You can determine this schedule independent of specific personnel availability or characteristics.

You know staffing requirements for each day of the week. It's not important how these daily requirement figures are obtained, as long as they accurately reflect staffing needs. They could be based on the output of another model (such as a queuing model) or an extrapolation of historical figures. We also make the following assumptions in this model:

•    There is only one skill level of staff - employees are interchangeable.

•    Staffing requirements or Full Time Equivalent requirements (FTEs)can be met with either full time employees working five days per week or part time (or pool) employees that can be hired on a daily basis.

•    Each full time employee cannot work more than 4 days in a row.

You could incorporate other assumptions with minor changes to the model.

An employee's schedule for one time period is called a "work pattern". Each employee can be scheduled under one of several work patterns. For example, a full time employee working five days a week can either work Monday through Friday or Tuesday through Saturday.

There may be many patterns consistent with an organisation's work rules. The first step in scheduling is to find a representative sample of patterns that correspond with organisation rules or policies and meet other necessary criteria.

The objective is to minimise staffing costs for a single shift. The model creates the minimum cost schedule based on daily requirement figures, average cost per employee category, and the work patterns. It chooses the best out of all work patterns that meet the staffing requirements. It also specifies how many people to schedule according to each work pattern and, if desired, how many 'pool' people to hire on a temporary basis to satisfy requirements.

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