Shift Work Allocation Market Algorithm

  • Incorporates employee preferences to create ideal schedule.
  • Results in increased worker satisfaction and reduces scheduling conflicts.


Technology Description

Inventors at the University of Iowa have developed an algorithm that can be used to better incorporate employee preferences into shift worker schedules. The algorithm is used to value shift desirability and hourly pay in a group of workers to better allocate shifts responsive to an individual employee’s priorities. This algorithm incorporates self-reported employee preferences and builds a schedule to optimize employee utility. The algorithm generates an output of the number of each type of shifts and the corresponding pay each person should receive for a monthly schedule. This results in increased worker satisfaction and reduced scheduling conflicts.

UIRF Case No. 2018-067

Technology Background

Scheduling software solutions commonly used in medicine and similar industries that employ rotating shifts have limitations. Some allow narrow options, which allow for the accommodation of specific requests, but not overall, ongoing employee preferences. Other shift differential schedule systems provide granular control over assigned values for types of shifts, but do not account for variances in specific employee preferences. The free market model also struggles in practice, as there is not generally enough variability in preferences for employees negotiating with each other to be an efficient market.

Stage of Development

The algorithm has been developed into a working prototype.



  • Incorporates the varying priorities of individual employees
  • Accounts for individual preferences
  • Optimizes allocation of shifts and pay

Contact Information

Name: Kellen Sensor


Phone: 319.335.4546