I’m often asked “Jim, what is the single most important thing we, as an organization, can do to better facilitate a schedule change.”
My answer is always the same – “Find a way to see the event through the eyes of a shiftworker.” In other words, walk that mile in their shoes.
Companies don’t change schedules for the fun of it. They know it has the potential to disrupt everything from planning to maintenance to hiring and training. It’s a big undertaking and not to be taken likely.
When companies make the decision to change, they always approach the workforce with the case for change. This “case” nearly always boils down to “We are doing this because of the needs of the business.”
While this is a great reason for change, it does not do a lot to calm the workforce’s concerns.
Here is why…
To the company, a shift schedule tells people when to be at work. To a shiftworker, a shift schedule tells them when they DON’T have to be at work.
In other words, it tells them when they can live the rest of their lives; that part of their life not at work but instead with their families or hobbies or whatever they may be passionate about.
Yes, they will understand “the needs of the business” but its also important to understand their perspective.
When you touch a schedule, even slightly, you are touching their personal lives. Change a start time by 15 minutes and watch the fireworks as employees can no longer pick up their kids or attend school or catch the early bus home.
You may say “We are changing the schedule to meet the needs of the business” but they are hearing “We are going to change your family life to facilitate the needs of the business.”
There is a difference.
Recognizing this difference will change the way you approach the project. The right approach will change the outcome for the better.
Partner, Shiftwork Solutions LLC