Ryanair troubles: why lag behind when you can schedule ahead?


The key issue behind the recent troubles at Ryanair was a failure to plan for pilots’ leave. Why do so many organisations still rely on outdated systems to manage such important aspects of their business, asks Chris McCullough.

“Employees can be a company’s biggest asset and a brand’s strongest advocate.” While this statement is getting more recognition nowadays, many businesses forget that for this to happen, it’s key for employers to be really proactive in gaining employees’ trust and support.

Management often underestimates the importance of routine tasks such as staff scheduling and holiday planning.

However, as mundane as it seems, failure to pay enough attention to staff scheduling can lead to lost employee and customer trust and cause long-term reputational and financial damage to the business.

Even with such huge risks on the table, it is surprising how many organisations still rely on outdated systems with latent inefficiencies and failings that may go unnoticed for years.

The reality is that at some point, these systems will fail – leaving businesses to deal with a staff churn and disappointed customers.

Leave liability

Since mid-September, Ryanair has had to cancel thousands of flights due to unforeseen staffing gaps caused by an unmanageable leave liability. This caused severe interruptions to its regular operations. Finding a solution has not been an easy task.

Airlines are continually navigating a scheduling maze. A single delay will effect not only the passengers booked on a particular flight but subsequent services too. Scheduling is a complicated process and the conversation must go further than Ryanair.

Ad-hoc staff management systems are still used across a number of industries, leaving management teams without an adequate overview of staff leave. This makes it impossible for businesses to foresee fluctuation in workforce demand.

While this time it is Ryanair under the spotlight, the reality is that many businesses are in similar positions and could experience major operational disruption as a result of staff shortages.

Whether it’s a transport service provider experiencing delays, or a retailer that needs extra staff during shopping period, scheduling is a crucial part of ensuring smooth operational processes across all industries.

Gaining visibility

Organisations from both public and private sectors need to make sure that their current scheduling software is able to both identify the optimum schedule and prevent operational issues – and here is where technology can help.

Used in the right way organisations’ data can offer the much needed visibility to mitigate against issues such as increasing leave liability.

I developed Rotageek, a scheduling program, after feeling frustration with the scheduling inefficiencies I experienced during my time as a doctor in A&E. I want this system to empower organisations to manage staff schedules and gain greater operational oversight of the demands in real time.

By implementing smarter scheduling technologies, businesses can free up management time, and also empower employees with the ability to mark their preferences and availability.

With this issue now front-of-mind, it is up to the management team to adopt the innovative solutions that will create a positive work culture – one where employers and their staff work hand-in-hand to pre-empt and solve scheduling challenges before they arise.

Businesses have the data they need to push for change. They just need to use it intelligently.

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