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Nadine Schlicker

GamOR — Game of Roster: Shift Planning redefined.

Nadine Schlicker UX Researcher

02.05.2019 • 4 minutes reading time

The medical and healthcare sector is full of challenges that workers are confronted with each and every day. Together with our partners, we are working on the GamOR project. This aims to tackle one particular challenge that is making it difficult for nursing staff to organize their work and private lives: shift planning.

The acronym GamOR stands for Game of Roster - a fitting name, as we approach rostering from a playful perspective. In the GamOR project, we are developing a collaborative planning application for nursing staff that tackles the main issues in shift planning: a lack of transparency and fairness in scheduling decisions. GamOR offers a mathematically founded and understandable solution that encourages nursing staff to organize themselves as well as promoting work-life balance.

A constraint-based algorithm to solve rostering conflicts

At the heart of GamOR is an algorithm that creates a full roster. It takes into consideration legal scheduling requirements such as minimum break times and staffing levels while also trying to fulfil a maximum of employee requests and preferences that are pre-loaded into the system.

Employees can request days off in GamOR
Employees can request days off

The algorithm identifies situations where staff needs or legal requirements collide. In the GamOR app, users are shown these planning conflicts early on and presented with easy-to-understand alternative solutions. These conflicts can then be discussed and solved in personal interactions between nursing staff.

Detailed view of conflicting demands
Detailed view of conflicting demands

This leaves space for individual exchange and for nursing staff to discuss their personal needs. The collaborative nature of the GamOR app gives staff an active voice in their rosters. The often overriding scheduling hierarchy is flattened, as superiors don’t have to be involved in each conflict as long as staff find their own solution independently.

The GamOR algorithm suggests solutions for planning conflicts
The algorithm suggests solutions for planning conflicts

A playful way to improve planning

One project milestone was the design of an understandable, easy-to-operate interface that tames the complexity of the system. The interface purposefully features playful elements that promote and visualize reconciliation.

Gamification in GamOR
Gamification: the customizable screensaver shows the planning status of individual employees as well as visualizing their joint goal: solving the scheduling puzzle.

With GamOR, we’re showing that increasing wellbeing isn’t about maximum automation, rather a sensitive adjustment of this automation to suit identified user needs. GamOR successfully strikes a balance between technical support, economic optimization and satisfying human needs. Transparency and fairness in scheduling are the focus, as well as promoting autonomy and staff wellbeing.

Project and research partners

The research and development project, funded as part of the ‘future of work’ program by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and the European Social Fund (ESF), involves six strong partners that each apply their expertise to one area of the project:

GamOR partners
GamOR partners

You can find more information about the project on the project website.

Funders
Funders

Addition:
The research and development project is funded as part of the ‘future of work’ program (funding ID O2L15A214), by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) and is supported by Projektträger Karlsruhe (PTKA). The author is responsible for the content of this publication.

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