Updated: May 25
Working as Air Traffic Controller, there is a constant need to find the optimum equilibrium between work and life balance. Challenges at work usually generate high levels of stress and pushing limits to achieve better key performance indicators can lead to neglection of the ATCOs wellbeing. Human performance includes wellbeing as a key contributor to excellent business engagement and having your ATCOs in shape, will lead to increased employees’ satisfaction, mitigation of fatigue-associated risks, and high overall performance on duty.
The connection between rostering and wellbeing is becoming stronger nowadays, as the development of Automating Rostering Platforms is on the market. With the optimum application, factors as workload distribution, flexible shift swapping, and integrated AI to take care of ATCOs’ needs, the wellbeing will gain a boost, and fatigue-associated risk will be mitigated. Now is the perfect time to start investing in employees’ mental health, as pandemics came with wellbeing issues as physical exercise, drinking, smoking, or anxiety.
Elements contributing to ATCOs wellbeing
1. Fair workload distribution
The workload of the ATCOs should be continuously assessed to permit optimum efficiency. If the workload is too high, this could lead to serious stress generated health problems and the ATCO can feel overwhelmed. If the workload is too low, it can lead to attention issues (be easily distracted). SkyRoster can solve this problem by distributing the workload equally to all ATCOs of the organization. When creating a new roster, specially created constraints can be activated to be taken into consideration by the roster engine. Different options are available as distribution constraints in SkyRoster.
The first one represents the weekends, to make sure that the work during the weekend time is equally distributed. Working as an ATCO, it is already known that your schedule won’t fit too many weekends with your family. Conducted surveys on ANSPs show that weekend distribution places on top priorities when comes to ATCOs' wellbeing. Having this option when designing a new roster, in a few months period it was observed that the percentage of free weekends increased by at least once/month, with equally distributed shifts alongside the organization.
Holiday distribution is the second most important option when thinking about time spent with your loved ones. Everybody loves Christmas morning when the kids open their gifts and gives you hugs because you were talking to Santa to bring them what they asked for. We would like everyone to stay home and have a fun time, but we also know that this job is 24/7 and this requires someone to be present at work. Holiday distribution analyses the total number of holidays for every country and allows ATCOs to be present home for at least 35% of the total holidays from a year.
When having more than one qualification, a fair distribution between them is also important. It’s already known that for maintaining qualifications and endorsements, a number of certain hours need to be spent on each of them, so by enabling the qualification distribution option, the engine will make sure that the ATCOs will get the chance to work as much as needed on their main qualifications, as well as the necessary time for the others.
2. Taking working preferences into account
When working in shifts, there is also important for the ATCOs to have the opportunity to require desired or undesired days of work. Even if you would like to work on another shift, or you would like to have a day off for participating in a family event, these options are not always available when having to deal with the non-automated rostering process. Automated Rostering can incorporate all these options together and take care of the wellbeing of any individual. When setting up SkyRoster, you have the option to declare how many desired/undesired working days can be taken into consideration by the engine, as well as any other preferred shifts.
It was already proven by studies made on ATCOs that having the chance to influence the shifts on the roster increases productivity and improves the overall wellbeing. This is one of the most important features when you want to show your ATCOs that their preferences or requests are taken into consideration.
3. Flexible shift swapping
We all know that emergencies or unexpected events happen to everyone, and for this, we can’t always take a day off. The solution is to change the shift between colleagues available to substitute you, and in a big ANSP, doing research manually to find the optimal solution could take hours and bring frustration to the roster officer. With SkyRoster, last-minute changes are available, and you as roster officer can find the optimal solution within few clicks. The flexibility means that the shift can be changed anytime within a month, with automated suggestions for the available dates and shift types for swapping.
4. Reduction of fatigue associated risks
Working in a 24/7 environment, fatigue-associated problems are likely to be part of the job. Nowadays, big organizations as EUROCONTROL and EASA are trying to find rostering solutions by analyzing data or reports filled by ANSPs or ATCOs. As we all have an internal body clock that knows when to require sleep and when to keep us awake, being active during “forbidden” hours will automatically increase the level of felt fatigue and over time this can cause serious health problems.
SkyRoster constraints cover any type of needs and can become the best friend of an ATCO, by delivering optimal solutions for keeping your body in shape. Keeping fatigue levels low is not always possible, but with internal regulations, SkyRoster is able to assign only a certain number of presence hours per week/month/year. As fatigue is the most experienced during the night shifts, and recommendations are telling to not work over two consecutive nights, there is the possibility to input the maximum number of night shifts or even consecutive duties. All constraints can be customized for each ANSP so that the experience becomes custom-tailored while taking care of ATCOs’ wellbeing.
Choosing to implement an Automated Rostering Platform as SkyRoster could not only reduce your rostering time considerably but would also help you with real-time adjustments to boost the ATCOs' wellbeing and increase their productivity.
If you want to learn more about the pains and gains of ATCOs, download our e-Copy for free about it and find out how to work less for more.