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How To Implement Shift Working Into Your Existing Business

02 August 2023 by Shweta Jhajharia

Imagine a business that never sleeps, yet where employees are more satisfied and productive than ever. This may seem like a paradox, but it isn’t when we introduce the concept of shift work.  

 

When done and managed right, shift work can positively impact operational efficiency and overall employee satisfaction. This article will delve into shift work, its types, how to implement it, its benefits, and how to overcome potential challenges. 

 

Understanding Shift Work 

Before diving into the world of shift work, it’s crucial to comprehend what it involves and the various forms it can take. There are primarily three types: 

 

  • Fixed shifts: This type involves employees working the same shift regularly, offering stability in their schedule. 
  • Rotating shifts: Here, employees rotate between day, evening, and night shifts, providing coverage across the clock. 
  • Split shifts: In this form, an employee’s workday is divided into two or more periods of work, providing flexibility. 

 

Shift work can open up numerous benefits for your business, such as: 

 

  • extended operating hours — your business can service customers across different time zones, thus reaching a broader market. 
  • improved customer service — by strategically placing staff during peak periods, you ensure customer needs are met promptly. 
  • reduced labour costs — strategically scheduling employees can help with a better utilisation of human resources, thereby reducing labour costs. 
  • increased employee satisfaction — offering flexible work arrangements can cater to employees’ personal needs, thus increasing their job satisfaction. 

 

Designing the Shift Schedules 

The next step is to figure out the design of your shift schedules. This process is crucial as it will determine how efficiently you can manage your resources to achieve your operational objectives.  

 

Creating the perfect shift schedule involves striking a balance between your business needs (understand your peak periods and customer service demands), employee preferences (some employees may prefer certain shifts due to personal commitments or health reasons) and legal constraints (you must comply with regulations on working hours, overtime, and rest periods). 

 

There are two main options to consider when creating a shift schedule: 

  • Manual scheduling.
    This traditional method involves pen and paper or the use of a simple computer spreadsheet. It gives you complete control over the process, allowing for a high degree of customisation based on individual needs. However, this option can be incredibly time-consuming, especially for larger businesses, and is prone to human error. It can also be more challenging to respond quickly to unexpected changes, such as staff calling in sick. 
  • Automated scheduling software.
    This modern alternative uses algorithms to generate shift schedules based on the parameters you set. It’s much quicker and can make complex scheduling tasks easy. A rota generator can respond rapidly to unforeseen changes, and some platforms even offer features like employee self-service portals and integration with other HR systems. These systems can sometimes lack the flexibility needed to accommodate unique circumstances. They also represent an additional cost and require training for effective use. 

 

Managing Challenges and Obstacles 

Implementing shift work, while beneficial, is not without its challenges. It’s essential to anticipate obstacles and be prepared with solutions. 

 

Change can be intimidating, and introducing shift work often disrupts employees’ routine. Inconvenient schedules might lead to dissatisfaction and decreased morale. To tackle this, it’s vital to communicate proactively. Explain why the change is necessary, how it benefits both the business and employees, and show empathy towards their concerns. Involve employees in decision-making, such as when designing shift schedules, to foster acceptance. 

 

Shift work can complicate compliance with labour laws, such as those relating to overtime pay, rest breaks, and maximum work hours. The risk of violations increases, potentially leading to financial penalties and reputational damage. To mitigate this, ensure that managers and HR professionals receive thorough training on these legal requirements. Implement a robust system to track hours worked, overtime, and rest periods. 

 

Managing a shift work system, particularly rotating or split shifts, increases the complexity of scheduling, communication, and task handovers. Misunderstandings and errors can occur more frequently. Scheduling software can help simplify shift management, and solid internal communication strategies can ensure everyone stays informed. A structured handover process, including written documentation, can help maintain continuity and quality of work. 

 

Performance Tracking and Evaluation 

After the shift system’s implementation, it’s critical to assess its effectiveness continually. Here are some metrics to consider: 

 

  • Productivity: This is often the most direct measurement of the efficiency of shift work. Monitor whether more tasks are being completed in the same or less time. Assess the quality of work done during different shifts. It’s essential to remember that productivity should not come at the cost of employee health or well-being. 
  • Employee satisfaction: While it may be harder to quantify than productivity, employee satisfaction is just as vital. Regular surveys can help gauge whether employees are happy with their shift patterns. Lower satisfaction levels might indicate the need for further adjustments to the schedule. 
  • Customer service levels: If one of the goals of implementing shift work was to improve customer service, it’s essential to measure this. Monitor customer satisfaction scores, response times, and complaint resolutions to gauge if there has been an improvement. 

 

Performance evaluation should also incorporate regular feedback from employees, customers, and managers. This information can provide valuable insights into what is working and what isn’t, allowing you to make necessary adjustments. 

 

Legal Compliance 

Given the complexities of shift work, legal compliance is a significant issue. It’s not just about avoiding fines and penalties; it’s about demonstrating your commitment to a fair treatment of your employees, thereby enhancing your reputation as a responsible employer. 

 

Here’s what to keep in mind: 

  • Familiarity with the legal landscape of shift work, including region-specific laws and rights 
  • Alignment of shift schedules, contracts, and policies with applicable legal regulations 
  • Regular training for managers and HR professionals on shift work regulations 
  • Accurate record-keeping of work hours, overtime, and rest breaks 
  • Seeking professional advice for effective navigation of complex shift work regulations. 

 

Conclusion 

Incorporating shift work into your business operations will most likely come with numerous benefits — extended operating hours, improved customer service, reduced labour costs, and increased employee satisfaction. However, its implementation also comes with challenges that need to be adequately addressed.  

 

With strategic planning, proactive communication, and diligent monitoring, shift work can prove to be a game-changer for businesses, transforming operations while bolstering employee engagement and satisfaction. So, consider this model for your business, because a business that sleeps is a business that loses potential opportunities. 

 

 

Rob Press 

Rob is a content marketing manager at Deputy, a robust scheduling software that can be used to manage your workforce in a wide variety of different industries. Aside from helping businesses reach operational efficiency, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in SaaS, B2B, and technology in general.  

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Shweta Jhajharia

Shweta Jhajharia is one of the leading authorities on Business Value Building and the creator of the unique 6M Model. Shweta is widely respected as an impactful, intelligent and results orientated professional who helps business leaders unleash their potential to reach meaningful, higher objectives. This realisation of potential and maximisation... Read more
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