What do Santa Claus and a roster planner have in common?

by Dr. Jörg Herbers
Weihnachtsmann hinter einem Laptop

Santa Claus always has a lot of work when December rolls around. He tries to fulfill countless wishes from people around the globe. He receives the most diverse range of requests; small and large, urgent and not so important. And then there are the unfulfillable desires. Some lack the funds, some cannot be achieved in the short time until Christmas and others are just dreams that cannot be realized.

This is all rather stressful. A huge number of tasks must be completed as quickly as possible - no matter what else happens until Christmas. Bad weather or a broken sled, Santa Claus must be able to improvise. After all, on Christmas, the people should be satisfied with his work.

Fortunately, Santa Claus is not doing this for the first time. He is an absolute professional and stays on top of things, despite unexpected incidents. We cannot be sure, but he is probably exhausted by the time Christmas come, but also happy to have managed it all once again.

Do you sometimes feel like Santa Claus?

If you now know why Santa Claus and a roster planner have a lot in common, you are probably a planner yourself. You know the feeling of wanting to fulfill many diverse requests at once, but often being unable to do so because the situation and the contrasting nature of the requirements do not allow it.

Despite dynamic and uncertain fluctuations in demand, personnel costs should be low. Overtime must be avoided. It is important to maximize working time productivity and ensure the optimal service level. After all, customer satisfaction is one of your company’s most important goals. And all this at optimal costs.

To do this, you need flexible employees who can step in at short notice should the need arise. Because you care about your employees, you try to take their personal preferences into account when scheduling their shifts. In doing so, you incorporate the latest recommendations on ergonomics and shift design and avoid tiring shift sequences. After all, the sick leave rate should be low and employee motivation high.

Fortunately, even in stressful situations, you can maintain the upper hand. Whether short-term changes in requirements or staffing shortfalls, you find a solution that complies with legal requirements and company agreements. If you studied law in your spare time, you can now reap the rewards.

Does a roster planner also have Christmas wishes?

As a planner, you are realistic when it comes to wishes. After all, you know all too well that fantasies do not come true. But most planners do have one wish in common. They wish for a little more recognition and understanding for the demanding tasks they perform every day.

Unlike Santa Claus, they cannot go on a long relaxing holiday on December 25th. Planners work all year round and try to fulfill as many wishes as possible, so that everyone is happy, day after day.

A planner is fully aware that this is not always possible. If all his colleagues and superiors would also understand this, his biggest Christmas wish would probably be fulfilled.

And what does the management wish from Santa Claus?

When it comes to shift scheduling, sometimes management wishes can be especially diverse. Like a wish list that has reached Santa Claus at this time of year.

Dear Santa Claus,

We desperately need a new roster planner, as our previous one has resigned.

In order to quickly find a suitable replacement, we placed a job advert. So far, however, no one has contacted us, although the advert describes in detail which requirements the ideal candidate should fulfil.

We would be overjoyed, if you could find us someone who fits the job. In order to help you with the search, I am sending you the most important excerpts from the job advert.

Many thanks for your support!

We need:

  • Stress-resistant roster planner with a wide range of expert knowledge in the following areas:
  • Human Resources
  • Labor Law and Social Law
  • Controlling and Cost Accounting
  • Wages and Salaries
  • Business Administration, especially Management and Process Optimization
  • Ergonomics and Health Management
  • Information Technology
  • Psychology

Furthermore, you should be intimately familiar with the operational processes of comparable companies, in order to be able to optimally support the department’s requirements. Excellent Excel knowledge and experience with the specification of interfaces are also desirable.

The following personal skills are assumed:

  • Customer, employee, process and cost-oriented mentality
  • Ability to work under high pressure
  • High numeracy
  • Fast analytical comprehension
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Confident manner, especially under high stress
  • Above-average social competence at all organization levels
  • High empathy when dealing with employees
  • Assertiveness, determination and focus
  • Ability to motivate employees
  • High frustration tolerance
  • High self-motivation and independence
  • Strategic thinking
  • A talent for improvisation
  • Goal-orientated intuition in the absence of planning fundamentals

Furthermore, you should have excellent methodological competence, which enables you to always keep the upper hand, even in confusing situations, and to make the right decisions with prudence. You are ideally suited to us if you are an optimist, with a positive appeal and a balanced disposition.

In return, we offer you

  • A diverse job in which you are confronted with new challenges every day
  • Contact to (nearly) every employee in the company
  • An average salary
  • The opportunity to train yourself extensively in your areas of responsibility in your leisure time.

I wonder if Santa Claus can help here. What do you think?

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2018!



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About the author

  • Dr. Jörg Herbers

    Jörg Herbers is Senior Vice President Workforce Management at Inform GmbH. He specializes in all topics related to staff planning and optimization.

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