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Guide to Microsoft Shifts: Quick and Easy Rota Management Software

By 9th August 2023October 17th, 2023No Comments
A care home manager working on the staff rota

How much time do you spend a month working on your staff rota? Creating it, sharing it, accommodating holiday. Filling in gaps, sorting out swaps, adding new joiners. Working around childcare, covering sickness, sharing it again. After all that work, it’s finally sorted… just in time to do it all again with a fresh set of problems.

It’s exhausting.

According to one provider, the average manager spends almost five hours a week on rota planning and rota-related admin, more than two whole working days every month.

Across social care and the NHS, rostering is a time-consuming and thankless task. But it’s also one of the most important, which makes it a prime candidate for new solutions from Microsoft.

In this blog, we’ll give you a guided tour of Microsoft Shifts, a free app that promises to make rota management quick and (relatively) painless.

The best rota software for health and social care

Within the health and social care sector, rota management falls roughly into one of two camps: The trusty spreadsheet (usually printed), or the intimidatingly sleek software (that takes weeks to understand).

In all seriousness, there are a whole range of software solutions specifically designed for rostering in social care, primary care, and hospitals. Tools such as RotaMaster, Lantum and HealthRota are the big players in this space. They are powerful, flexible, and often include useful extras like job planning and workforce management functions. In a competitive market, many have invested in user-friendly design and offer training and support to help managers make the most of their systems.

The major downside to professional e-rostering tools like this is their cost. If you don’t have access to licencing through your organisation or funding from your ICS, there simply isn’t room in the budget for these tools. Which is why smaller teams often find themselves doing this work manually with a spreadsheet, email and noticeboard.

If you’re looking to streamline a manual process with a simple, effective e-rostering tool, or looking for an easy-to-use alternative to your current system, Microsoft Shifts could be your answer.

The best part? It’s included for free as part of Microsoft 365. If you have Microsoft 365 (think Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive), you already have Microsoft Shifts.

What is Microsoft Shifts?

Shifts is a schedule management app that sits within Teams. As a manager, you can easily create, edit and manage staff rotas with minimal fuss and maximum value.

Staff can check their shifts from anywhere, track their time, and – if you want them to – make requests to add holiday, swap shifts with a colleague, and volunteer themselves for gaps in the schedule.

How does Shifts work?

It sounds great on paper, but how easy it is to use?

These quick tutorials from Jade, one of our resident Microsoft trainers, will get you up and running with Microsoft Shifts in less than five minutes:

Create and share a rota in Shifts

In this quick guide for managers, we’ll show you how to add the Shifts app to Microsoft Teams and create your first schedule.

You’ll need to be a “Team Owner” to create a schedule in Shifts. If you aren’t one already, your IT support team or administrator should be able to enable this for you.

Once you’re set up, creating schedules is quick and simple.

Swapping shifts in Microsoft Teams

This video tutorial shows you what your team will see in the Shifts app.

We’ll go through how they can see their shifts, look at the whole team rota, volunteer for an open shift and request to swap hours with a colleague.

Shifts makes it easy to make changes to the rota, cutting down on extra leg work for managers if someone needs to swap shifts or take time off.

The request system is one of the strongest features of Shifts. When you’re doing the rota manually, there’s a lot of back and forth with every request to change the schedule. You’ve got to keep track of the request, find someone willing to take the hours, shuffle things around, update the system, and let everyone know.

In Shifts, all that work is condensed into the click of a button. People can look at the schedule and send a request to their colleague to ask if they’d like to swap. If they agree, the request comes to you for approval. Click. Done. Sorted.

No matter what happens in your team, everything stays up to date. There’s one source of truth, with no old plans in the mix to create confusion.

Microsoft Shifts for the NHS and social care

Shifts is actively recommended by the NHS Digital Workforce initiative, and has been successfully implemented by the IT team at Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust as an alternative to Excel.

Is Microsoft Shifts right for your organisation?

If you’re already using Microsoft Teams, Shifts can be a great way to streamline and simplify your staff scheduling. It’s free, functional, and eliminates the need for separate apps and data siloes. We see it as being particularly useful for smaller teams in health and social care, including domiciliary care, GP practices, and care homes.

Book your free consultation with The Inform Team

To unlock hidden potential for your team and see what else Microsoft 365 can do, get in touch with our friendly team and set up a free consultation.

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