Business Accountants: Rotating Schedules Guide: Finding the Right Fit for Your Hospitality Business


The hospitality industry is known for its diverse and unpredictable work hours, from early-morning cafes to late-night bars. Effective shift management strategies are essential for ensuring a smooth operation. For businesses like restaurants, cafes, and bars operating outside regular 9-5 hours, finding the right scheduling strategy is crucial to ensure staffing levels are met while keeping employees content. This guide delves into the key decision between two scheduling strategies: fixed schedules and rotating schedules. Let’s explore the pros and cons to help you make an informed choice.

Understanding Rotating Schedules: 

In essence, a rotating schedule, often called a rotating roster, is a system where employees’ working hours and shifts change periodically. Unlike a fixed schedule with consistent hours, rotating schedules vary over a designated period, such as weekly or monthly.

Fixed Schedules vs. Rotating Schedules: 

On one hand, there’s the fixed schedule, where specific teams work consistent shifts. On the other hand, the rotating schedule introduces variety, providing a fair distribution of shifts among employees.

Benefits of a Fixed Schedule:

  • Consistency for planning personal events and activities.
  • Enables employees to maintain regular sleep patterns.
  • Suitable for roles where tasks are consistent across shifts.

How a Rotating Schedule Works: For example, in a restaurant, a rotating schedule might involve employees alternating between day and night shifts. This approach ensures that no one is constantly assigned to the same less-desirable shifts.

The Three Types of Rotating Schedules:

  1. Dupont Shift Schedule:

    • Ideal for 24/7 coverage, featuring 12-hour rotating shifts with built-in week-long breaks.
    • Offers employees a mix of day and night shifts but requires working 72 hours in one week.
  2. Pitman Shift Schedule (2-3-2):

    • Provides employees with every other weekend off.
    • Consists of four teams working 12-hour shifts on a two-week cycle.
    • Employees never work more than three consecutive days but work longer shifts.
  3. 2-2, 3-2, 2-3 Rotating Shift Schedule:

    • Also based on a four-team, two-week cycle with 12-hour shifts.
    • Requires employees to work up to 62 hours in one week and adapt to switching between day and night shifts.

Benefits of a Rotating Schedule:

  • Ensures round-the-clock coverage for hospitality venues.
  • Develops employees’ skills and adaptability.
  • Enhances business flexibility to handle fluctuating demand.
  • Provides fair distribution of shifts.
  • Reduces employee burnout from working the same shifts constantly.
  • Maintains motivated staff members.

Drawbacks of a Rotating Schedule:

  • May disrupt employees’ work-life balance and routines.
  • Can hinder customer familiarity in businesses relying on personal connections.
  • Increases administrative complexity.

Setting Up a Rotating Schedule: When establishing a rotating schedule, it’s essential to consider factors like team division, shift allocation, and cycle length. A well-structured rotating schedule fosters an effective workforce and keeps both employees and employers satisfied.

Using Rotating Schedule Software: To simplify the scheduling process and reduce administrative workload, consider using employee scheduling software. Some top options in Australia include Deputy, Tanda, RosterElf, and When I Work.

Choosing the Right Schedule for Your Business: 

The decision between fixed and rotating schedules ultimately depends on the preferences and needs of your team. Communication with your employees is key to ensuring a harmonious and efficient work environment. Whether the flexibility and fairness of rotating schedules or the consistency of fixed schedules suits your team best, a happy team is the cornerstone of a successful business.


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