Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Understanding The Difference Between Rota And Roster

Within HR and some other industries, there are many overlapping concepts that are often used interchangeably with different words

Rota and roster are just few examples. Consequently, this overlap is what makes some people interested in the difference between rota and roster.

Whether you are intending to invest in new rostering software of just want to improve your personal management practices, understanding the core differences here will help you to achieve that goal.

However, before proceeding I will like to give you the basic definition of these concepts. But first, you have to acknowledge the fact about how these concepts are used in different contexts. For example, how they are used in the UK may not be exactly how they are used in US and Australia. In some sense, it has to do with the origin of these words themselves.

What Is Rota?

This is a documented system that defines how some specified work should be done. In practical terms, it is more about the pattern of organizing regular tasks in a workplace. Depending on the stage of your business or where you are starting from, rota can be in digital or physical document format. For people that have experienced real transition from paper to digital documentations and processing, you are probably familiar with the difference between paper based and digitally systemized rota.

In order to streamline and regularize the order of work, there are some variables that often come into play. So rota doesn’t just stand in a vacuum. It has to with functions, schedules, roles and others.

From a different perspective, rota is more about those aspects of work that doesn’t change very often from time to time; daily, weekly or monthly.

Rota Differentiators

These are the basic things that make rota different from roster. To make things more understandable, I decided to list and clarify these ones first. As reading further below, the core difference between rota and roster will become more understandable. Now let’s take a look at them one by one.

Shifts – This is simple organized documentation of tasks and duties to be performed from time to time. To avoid employee burnout and ensure consistency where multiple shifts are involved, rota is normally used. Hence, most of the things that need to be done don’t change as much. Moreover, having the shifts organized ensures smooth handover from one team of employees or individuals to the other.

Schedules – Here is another key component of rota. Practically, this one refers to simple stipulation of time when the organized work ought to be done. Within this context, this also an indication of how long each task need to take. You can refer to this as duration of shifts. And that is one of the things that stay static in a rota.

Roles And Functions – For each specified task, there is also defined role. Specifically, this points to clarification of who is responsible for what functions and at what time. While the job titles and related duties may be static, the person that performs them may change from time to time. In this case, rota helps business owners and manager to maintain a desirable level of productivity regardless of who is performing the task in each passing day or week.

Again, when there are some duties that depend on other people in order to be performed completely, a rota makes it possible to know who to ask for input when it is needed.

These are some of the key things that come into a rota. And they are the factors that define the difference between the two concepts. Remember, there is always a possibility of an obvious overlap between the two seemingly but distinct concepts.

What Is Roster?

While this one takes identical form of a rota, it is mainly a documented pattern of recording real activities in the workplace. In most cases, this can be used for shift and non shift related work. Depending on your preferences, this can be merged with a rota if you choose. Moreover, this can be in paper or digital format.

With regard to employee rostering software, almost every vendor you’ll find in the market has different user interface. And that defines what is static, what is not and how activities are recorded.

Below here are the key factors that make this one different. Note, you can make comparative reference the factors discussed earlier.

Roster Differentiators

Attendance – In some relatively large organizations, attendance is one thing that is very hard to manage. This is because people change from time to time. And then, unexpected things happen as well. As part of a roster, attendance record can help you manage compensation plans both for full time and temporary workers.

Times Sheets/Logs – Having an accurate record of who comes in early and who goes late is not enough. You also need to take into account the actual number of hours worked as opposed to stipulated duration. On a deeper level, the data collected here could help you remove some bottlenecks that impede maximum productivity. With employee rostering software, it comes easier to compare this data set over different time periods, across departments or branches.

Absence - This is another employee performance related factor that often change from time to time. Irrespective of how you choose to collect data in this regard, bigger number of absent days on the part of an employee could be a signal of something that needs deeper investigation.

Self Service – As for rota, when it is set it remains static in most cases. However, a roster gives employees the opportunity to make self serving inputs. This could be in relation to things like their availability, leave requests and other workplace related feedback.

At this point, it is worth reiterating that these are merely conceptual differences. The modernization of HR and personnel management systems causes even deeper overlap between the two. At the end, the most important thing to remember is that one remains relatively static after being set while the other aligns with different realities that unfold in the workplace.