Tales of a former cinema employee: The rota

Tales of a former cinema employee: The rota

Welcome to another edition of the tales of a former cinema employee, today we are going to talk about one of the most stressful jobs as a manager or supervisor and that is when you are given the duty of organising the weekly rota. Yes, it is that post.

When you were a normal staff member…

All you would think in what world the person who doing the rota was living in because I explicitly requested Tuesday off not Thursday! What a numpty, how can you get that wrong? What do you mean the month-long rota (yes I worked in a place that tried to make rotas for the month) isn’t finished yet? And what do you mean you must have missed one of my 200-day requests or shift requests. UNACCEPTABLE!

Listen I remember those days and I can relate, but until those people complaining have to do the rota then they cannot say a dickybird. Except for the time that over the holiday season that I would work Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I just wanted Boxing Day off (usually it is a two on two off deal) but ohhhhhhh no, this was misread and I ONLY worked Boxing Day. I ended up working all four because I am a greedy bugger and love money. Let’s see what the rota person had to deal with, shall we?

What is it like?

Imagine looking at a full week and having around 25 people to choose from, all with varying abilities on the 3 or so sections and you have to be conscious not to keep them on their best section too many times in a week and that they will have unavailable days due to classes or something else, or just a day request. Then imagine that you have to predict the level of the busyness of said day and rota accordingly. Then imagine you want the fewest possible shift changes, but you know that there will be one or two members of staff who will be unhappy with the rota no matter what and that they will not go directly to you, but to the person above you to bitch about it. Then imagine that just as you are finishing the rota someone has to take a certain day off but they didn’t tell you, they told the other manager and you are too polite to get angry at them so you quietly start rejigging the rota for the 6th time after you thought it was finished.

Then the worst of all, you finish the rota and then you realise you are 100 hours over budget and you have to try and trim that down, but keep your best happy with enough hours and still give everyone else some hours as everyone has to get hours and you are not a Scrooge and you are not going to give someone less than 10 hours unless they explicitly requested it that week. Oh and then make sure you look back at the previous week’s rota to make sure you are not accidentally making someone work for 7 days straight… It’s happened and I’m sorry, but it also happened to me!

Imagine all of that… Every week, the rota is stressful and that person is a genius for working it out on time (most of the time) every week. Well done them! As a former rota maker, I salute you!

Picking the best first…

I shouldn’t say it, but it happens. You have some awesome staff in the cinema working with you, what are you going to do, put them in here and there? Oh no my friend, they are our golden gooses and they are our spiritual warriors. We need to look after these people a little and we also know when our busiest times are going to be, so we need to utilise them when they are going to be of best use. We have a conference in one screen midweek well I guess EMPLOYEE A is going to be on there. But we also have to be very careful with them.

We can’t depend on them every Friday and Saturday night otherwise they will get too tired and fed up with the job and leave. They are out stars and we need to look after them, so let them enjoy a day shift or two, or an easy Monday night so they can recharge. Give them the odd weekend off without them requesting it. Look after the best, sorry folks, but it happens.

The full-timers

It can be hard to get full-time hours in a cinema and the trick to getting as close to the 40 hours a week is to say you can work any day. If you limit me and say you can’t work a Sunday or a Tuesday, then it has already become harder for me to provide you with the full amount of hours that I would like to give you. Luckily usually your best are the full-timers so they are pretty much scattered throughout the week, so at this point, it is about filling the gaps (and the weekend) with everyone else. The full-time staff are your dependables, you know they are going to come in and get the job in, they are full time most likely because they enjoy the job and it is flexible to their needs. I love the full-timers, they will accept shifts. Just do not give them too many closes or 1-9 or 2-10 shifts as you can imagine 5 of those mid shifts are soul-destroying as your entire day is gone as you can do something in the morning, but then that’s it. It sucks. So a nice variance of mornings, mids and closes, with a preference for giving them at least one middle and a close or two keeps everyone happy.

The weekend staff

Usually the students and no offense to you all, but you are getting the weekend shifts, we will be nice and give you one of the three off, but you are most likely working the evening shift. I did try to alternate it though, so an evening and middle or morning to be fair. A blessing is when the students want extra hours over the holidays and the ones I want out on their arse are the students who still only wanted their standard hours. Screw you and your life, get used to the dark and noisy rooms as you are working kiddo!

The worst staff

Sadly to the other capable staff they would have to take the busiest of shifts or the harder shifts as I would just not risk putting a staff member who I didn’t trust on a busy night. I want a smooth night in the cinema and not someone who has been there for 2 years fumbling about asking what they can do or for them to be hiding away from actually doing work. Though on occasion I would have thrown that bad staff member in with everyone to try and improve them a bit, sometimes they rose to the pressure, sometimes they fell to pieces.

The worst staff are usually the ones you add onto the rota last, you fill the gaps with their names and when you have over 20 staff members to sort out that person can be a long way down the list

Staff who don’t like each other

I have had this too many times to count. Staff who fight or hate other staff members just need to stop working there as if they can get so annoyed at the existence of another person they work with, then they should look elsewhere. If I ever got into the position again and someone said they couldn’t work with that person I would tell them tough it out. A rota is a jigsaw puzzle and keeping people happy is hard enough. Work out your issues and work together like a professional or I will rota you on every shift together. It should be noted I was a sap and would always give myself headaches in separating these staff members from each other…

Oh, a group of you are wanting to go to an event… How nice for my headache

The great thing about being friends with people you work with is that you do things out of work. The bad thing about that is when they all come in with the same date request as they want to go out that night or go for a group holiday together. The smart buggers would know the limit on how many people can be off at a time and they get in nice and early and book it off. This usually leaves me without my best staff over a weekend and it is infuriating that they are friends… I mean, yay for friendship, but boo for my mental health on a Monday/Tuesday.

That is all for today, please have a read of the previous posts about working in a cinema. Some are gross, some are funny, all are true. Until next time.

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