How to give workers greater flexibility, without compromising on workforce planning

How to give workers greater flexibility, without compromising on workforce planning

Worker-Centricity: the 3rd of 5 ‘Outcomes-Based Staffing’ principles

Giving workers flexibility does not equate to employers having to compromise on workforce planning. 

With the right technology, employers should be able to provide structured flexibility that accommodates workers’ needs as much as possible, all whilst balancing predictability over workforce planning to ensure utmost patient care.

When it comes to the NHS, every single one of its 1.3 million staff members plays an essential role. This has never been more publicly recognised than over the past year; with all staff going above and beyond, day after day.

However, this tireless dedication under relentless pressure takes its toll. According to the most recent NHS Staff Survey, a third are planning to leave their current NHS organisation. This can, and must, change. 

To avoid an impending staffing crisis, it’s time to create a new way for staff to thrive in their NHS careers. Currently, they are worn out by rigid rotas and rostering frameworks, as well as hindered by a shortage of opportunities to have careers that accommodate their personal situations or enable them to explore alternative training pathways or portfolio careers. 

That’s why, in recognition of the need to put people back at the heart of our health and care service, we are expanding our suite of products and services to make worker-centric staffing a reality across the NHS.

What is worker-centric staffing and how do we achieve it?


Worker-centric staffing means putting the human at the heart of workforce planning. 

In such a system, flexible working becomes the default, safely. It makes genuine flexible working a reality; driving up wellbeing and retention, delivering better outcomes for staff and their patients. And, crucially, this can all happen whilst protecting the employer’s ability to stay in control of their workforce planning. 

Patchwork’s commitment to pioneering a new approach to worker-centric staffing means our intelligent technology and smart algorithm accommodates for worker preferences around flexibility as much as possible - to optimise for their wellness whilst balancing the imperative need for employers to have predictability over their workforce planning to ensure patient safety. 

Currently, workers have no control over their schedules - often not a single preference or circumstance can be taken into account. Whilst it won't be possible to cater for each and every preference, our smart technology allows employers to move from our current 0% reality, to a point where at least for example 60% of preferences could be reflected, safely. 

We believe that the most efficient, inclusive and cost-effective workforce model is one in which staff can have a say in how their schedules are built, and vacant shifts are filled by collaborative staff banks underpinned by digital passporting; allowing people to work wherever their skills are needed most.

This is a model capable of tackling the core drivers of burnout and staff exit, enabling staff to take an empowered approach to their careers and wellbeing.

Flexibility and empowerment come hand-in-hand 

Worker-centric staffing is inherently decentralised, with automated scheduling systems removing a heavy admin burden from managers and also giving workers more autonomy. 

By empowering workers - giving them greater ownership of their schedules, their careers and their personal data - employers demonstrate how much they value their staff, improving retention and morale. 

Crucial to this empowerment process is the right user-friendly technology to support this new era of staffing. This is why we developed the Patchwork Worker Portal and mobile app. Tools such as these accelerate user adoption of the new system by giving workers the power to safely self-roster. This is coupled with giving workers greater financial empowerment through Patchwork’s partnership with Wagestream, which enables workers to access their wages as soon as they earn them. 

Making systems work for managers too 

When building a worker-centric staffing model, the needs and priorities of managers and senior leaders must be given equal consideration. Many members of the Patchwork team have spent years employed by the NHS, and we understand that any new initiative must be carefully designed to reduce the workloads of managerial staff. 

This is why we’ve built a system that is fully interoperable end-to-end with a rapid, low-input roll-out supported by dedicated Patchwork Account Managers. 

Laying the foundations for a stronger NHS 

We’re proud to be ushering in a new era of staffing which puts the individual at its heart. 

By harnessing the latest digital scheduling innovations and data-backed tools, and by leveraging system insights to empower and retain workers and drive efficiencies, together we will create an NHS made stronger by the power of its people. 

Apply to join the Patchwork Rostering Accelerator

You can read about 'Outcomes-Based Staffing,' the paradigm shift set to transform healthcare staffing, here.

To apply to join the Patchwork Rostering Accelerator and help shape the future of healthcare, please get in touch at

Participating NHS Trusts are eligible for access to Patchwork’s rostering solution on attractive commercial terms, including free use periods and waiving all implementation fees.

Dr Anas Nader
written by:

Dr Anas Nader