Flexible cyclic scheduling: A fair way to treat workers


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Standard eight-hour shifts are common for workers in manufacturing. But in service operations use of a part-time flexible workforce require different scheduling approaches.In such an environment, flexible cyclic scheduling allocating work equally over the planning horizon. Workforce typically is divided into groups, each group is assigned the same schedule. When a group reaches the last scheduling period, it starts from the beginning. Thus, cyclic rosters offer a high degree of fairness and long-term predictability of days on and off. Moreover, in flexible cyclic rosters the start time of a shift is within a time window that offers the planner the flexibility to react to changing demand.

Ferdinand Kiermaierintroduce a new approach to making limited adjustments to employee schedules in their paper “Flexible Cyclic Rostering in the Service Industry.” The weekly problem is formulated as a multistage stochastic program. One problem is where the planned shifts do not have enough staff to meet demand. The results show that a reduction in undercoverage of more than 10 percent on average can be achieved with minimal computational effort. The results indicate that the new approach can overcome most of the limitations of traditional cyclic rostering while still providing most of its advantages.