Shift rostering using decomposition: assign weekend shifts first

Egbert van der Veen*, Erwin W. Hans, Gerhard F. Post, Bart Veltman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


This paper introduces a shift rostering problem that surprisingly has not been studied in the literature: the weekend shift rostering problem. It is motivated by our experience that employees’ shift preferences predominantly focus on the weekends, since many social activities happen during weekends. The weekend rostering problem (WRP) addresses the rostering of weekend shifts, for which we design a problem-specific heuristic. We consider the WRP as the first phase of the shift rostering problem. To complete the shift roster, the second phase assigns the weekday shifts. This decomposition reflects how shift rosters are often created manually in practice, which makes the decomposition method proposed in this paper a more intuitive approach for business users compared to approaches without this decomposition. We believe that such approaches enable business users to effectively analyze and steer the outcomes of algorithms for shift rostering especially on criteria that are relevant to them such as those concerning weekends.We analyze and discuss effects of this two-phase approach both on the weekend shift roster and on the roster as a whole.We demonstrate that our first-phaseweekend rostering heuristic is effective both on generated instances and real-life instances. For situations where the weekend shift roster is one of the key determinants of the quality of the complete roster, our twophase approach is shown to be effective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-43
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of scheduling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Decomposition
  • Local search
  • Shift rostering
  • Heuristics


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