Thursday, 3 December 2015

Pottering Around

Pottering around, what a wonderful phase. It means to do a gentle activity in a seemingly aimless manner. I love to potter around the house, doing this and that without any real obligation to get anything done. So while pottering you could read, play a game, and watch some TV, clean, go for a walk. Or really anything that you find relaxing.
What you can’t do when you are pottering is anything where you guarantee to be some place at a set time, other than that, you can do anything you want.

So for people who like to potter there is a wonderful way of working. When I’m creating shift patterns for companies, I like to use Banked Hours with cover shifts. They are perfect for people who like to potter. On a regular shift pattern, everyone is scheduled to work the same number of hours they are contracted to work. However on a shift pattern with Banked Hours and Cover shifts, they are only scheduled for a portion of their contracted hours. Then the remaining hours are put into a Bank. E.g. you are contracted to work 37.5 hours per week, but you are only scheduled for 35 hours per week. Then 2.5 hours every week is put into the Bank, so for the year your Banked Hours would be 130.
Banked Hours are used to cover for absences, ad-hoc work and training. So if you needed to do some training then they would bring you in using your Banked Hours. To reduce the number of days when you can be called in to work your Banked Hours, you have cover shifts. Cover shifts are scheduled onto days where you are rostered off but could be asked to come into work on Banked Hours.
The number of Cover shifts you would be down for would depend on how many people were on Banked Hours and how many are needed etc. But for most people with about 130 hours in their Bank, they would be looking at around the 30-50 cover shifts mark.
When you are down for cover you need to be available for work, so being a potterer is ideal. As long as you have everything ready and are contactable, then you can do whatever you want.
While you have to be ready to come into work on days when on cover the chances are that you would not be sitting by the phone for the day. You would be contacted as soon as a person reported in that they would be absent. So if everyone is responsible and contacts work as soon as they know they will be absent, then when you are on cover you can be informed long before the shift starts. Short of an accident or food poisoning most absences are known or suspected a long time in advance. It is in everyone best interest that as soon as they suspect they will not be able to come in they contact work.

So what’s in it for you? Banked Hours and cover shifts means that you are giving the company the ability to call you in when you could be having the whole day off with no ties to the company, so there has to be something in it for you!

  • Firstly, Banked Hours can only be used for pre-determined reasons, your boss can’t just drag you into work because they feel like it. These hours are there to cover absences, changes in the workload and training.
  • Secondly, if your Banked Hours are not needed, then they are zeroed at the end of the year. Ideally I always recommend that for the system to work there should be an average of at least one week’s worth of hours that are not required. So in an average year you would get at least one week’s worth of additional time off. This is a bonus for providing the company with the flexible resource it requires.
  • Thirdly, Banked Hours do not need to be all derived from your basic hours, the company can buy Banked Hours, so that you work more hours than your contracted hours. E.g. the example above showed that the person has 130 hours in their Bank, but what if you only had 30 hours in your Bank. The company can purchase extra hours and then store them in your Bank to be used as needed, or zeroed at the end of the year if not.
  • Fourthly, Banked Hours help with swapping shifts. If you want a day off under normal circumstances you would need to take it as holiday. Well in a Banked Hours scheme you have other options, you can swap a shift. You can swap shifts and set up your own shift pattern to suit your own personal life style.
Shift Swaps: The person who wants a day off asks the other people on the shift pattern if they will be willing to swap that shift. Once they have found someone, they agree between them a like for like swap, which they are both happy with. They then fill in the form and take it to their Manager to sign. Now with Banked Hours, you can agree swaps for shifts with different hours, the hours are just added or taken from the Bank. So you can swap an 8-hour shift for a 12-hour shift or even a day off.
  • Fifthly, it reduces your stress at work. Have you noticed how stressful it is to go in to work when people are absent? Everyone needs to do more work in order to cover for the missing person. However because a Banked Hours scheme means that whenever there is an absence it is automatically replaced, you no longer have to worry about absences. You don’t have to worry that you will be letting work down because you are too ill to come in. You don’t have to worry about meeting your quotas because of absence. You can go to work safe in the knowledge that you will have the correct number of people in to help you.
  • Sixthly, it reduces absence and fatigue. Absence causes fatigue and fatigue causes absence. Once a group of people are locked in the spiral, it is very hard to climb out. When people are absent the other people on shift will have to cover that workload. So they become over worked. When you are overworked you get fatigued quicker. When you are fatigued you are more prone to make errors or have accidents. Accidents lead to absence. Fatigue and stress will also affect your health. When we are tired and stressed, we don’t eat properly or sleep well, all of which can lead to serious illnesses. Whereas if you have someone to cover for an absence, then you avoid all of that stress, anxiety, and illness.
  • Seventhly, Banked Hours ensures that you have the ability to be trained. Most companies need to train their staff in the latest technology and ensure they are up to date with equipment etc. But when you are trained you have to be taken off shift, or on one of your rest days. Not so with Banked Hours, there is a readymade schedule, so when you are down for cover but not needed, you could have a training day. Plus the Banked Hours have already been prepaid for so if there was a course you have been desperate to go on, you now have the hours available to go on it, and by swapping shifts you can ensure that you can attend.
  • Eighthly, there is the benefit to the company. Now I know this is not a direct benefit, but if the company is able to respond quickly to changing workload, meets all of its deadlines and becomes more successful, then your job is more secure. Not to mention if the company is making more profit then they can afford things like pay rises and promotions.
So if better health, more time off, better prospects, better training and a personalised work/life balance doesn’t sell Banked Hours to you, then just think about all those days where you can potter, around the home, garden, shops and golf course.

If you would like to know more about Banked Hours then our eBook is available from Amazon or contact us at or (+44) 01636 816466

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