The management can’t ensure compliance with the agreements when staff planning is defective

When staff planning at higher education institutions doesn’t work, the management finds it difficult to monitor activities and assume its work environment responsibilities by ensuring that the higher education institution complies with the working time agreement.

The trade union also suffers from defective documentation or a complete lack of documentation and information when staff planning isn’t working properly.

We’ve been working on staff planning at higher education institutions for over a decade and over the years we’ve collected quotes that describe the frustration that management and trade unions experience due to poor staff planning. But, of course, we also have a solution.

From the management’s point of view

Difficult to assume the relevant responsibility for the work environment

“It’s difficult for me to get an overview of how much overtime the staff do. I’m responsible for creating an even workload for the staff in order to safeguard their health. In the worst case scenario, we as employers risk being hit by considerable claims for damages if we exceed the permitted amount of overtime or additional time for staff.”

Poor financial monitoring

“Imagine if the salary account-coding could be monitored monthly instead of half-yearly – what an overview of the institution’s finances we would have! At present, when we receive the results half-yearly, I’m often faced with a fait accompli. I wish I could see, as early as at the planning stage, which courses give a surplus and which give a deficit, then I’d have another dimension to my management.”

No transparency

“Misunderstandings among teachers occur regularly, for example about who should lecture in a particular course. The error is usually due to the fact that someone has been looking at the wrong version of the work task plan or hasn’t been informed. This creates frustration and inefficiency in the organisation.”

Unsure whether we comply with the working time agreement

“I’ve noticed that continuous professional development time, administration time, overtime and additional time are interpreted and dealt with differently in the various departments. That makes me unsure as to whether we’re complying with the working time agreement properly.”

“The trade union would like transparency in our compliance with the working time agreement and they don’t think they get it. But I don’t have a good summary to show them. It creates unnecessary friction with the trade-union representatives.”

From the trade union’s point of view

We don’t get the information we need

“We drown in all the printed work task plans we receive every year. We would rather have a summary of staff utilisation rates so we can easily see whether there are any problems with over-utilisation.”

No documentation

“When we were going to have discussions with the employer about a teacher’s work situation, we couldn’t find the agreed work task plan so it was difficult to identify any deviations. There should be a central archive of work task plans in which we could go back and see the full history for a particular employee.”

So how can you solve the problem of staff planning that’s not working properly?

A professional staff planning system which is tailored to the needs of higher education institutions reduces or completely eliminates the problems that give rise to frustration. Management has access to its summaries of staffing and financial results for the entire higher education institution and the trade unions can access information that is relevant to them.

From the management’s point of view

With a staff planning system, management has access to easy-to-understand summaries of staff utilisation levels and can ensure at an early stage that staff have a good working environment.

When the same system is used for all staff planning at an institution, there is greater transparency because all the information is presented to the employees in the same way. The staff gain a greater understanding and become more committed when they have a communal view of what’s going on in the organisation.

With a joint staff planning process and associated IT systems, management also receives up-to-date supporting data for management of activities from a financial point of view.

From the trade union’s point of view

A staff planning system provides supporting data to the trade unions so they can monitor to ensure that staff are not over-utilised and that the teachers’ FTE percentages are distributed according to the working time agreement.

Thanks to digital signing of work task plans, all intended planning is documented along with the actual planning, which the union wants to see in the event of any disputes.


If you want to learn more about the pitfalls and benefits of staff planning as well as what you can expect from a professional staff planning system, sign up for our free webinar.

You can also read more about what features you can expect from a professional staff planning system on our website.

About the author

Jens Apelgren has over ten years’ experience in workforce planning at higher education institutions and has personally introduced workforce planning systems at 18 different institutions. Jens is CEO of Retendo AB, which offers systems to streamline administration for both higher education institutions and project-oriented companies. Jens is closely involved in the development of Retendo’s workforce planning system.