Let’s start with this – My intent with this post is NOT to tell H.R. how to do their job. Rather, I want to round up many of the issues surrounding shift work in an effort to put the spotlight on those I have found to be most important to H.R. professionals.
So, let’s get to the list…
#1: No one is going to come to H.R. to tell you how much they like the schedule they are currently working on. When people are unhappy, they complain. When they are happy, they are quiet. This means that people coming to your office to complain about the schedule will ALWAYS outnumber those that come by to tell you they love it. Just be aware that listening to those that come to you is not a representative sampling of your workforce.
#2: What the average shiftwork wants or what a nearby plant is doing has little bearing on what you should be doing with your schedule. After nearly 30 years in the business, I can tell you exactly what the average shift worker likes and doesn’t like; and yet…I have never met an average shift worker. Everyone is unique. In the same way, your business is unique from the company down the street. What works for one company is not necessarily what will work best for you; even if you are in the same industry.
#3: As a service organization, H.R. works for several different interests including planning, production, maintenance, quality, administration, and leadership. All of these have different functions and thus often require different shiftwork structures and outcomes. Serving several masters is no easy task. All need to be heard. All need to be tended to. Remember, if H.R. was easy, no one would need you.
#4: Recruiting and retention of skilled employees are always affected by the shift schedule being used. Supervision, absenteeism, vacancy coverage and overtime will also be impacted.
#5: Process is everything when it comes to changing a shift schedule. How you communicate plans and ideas as well as how you solicit input from affected parties will determine the ultimate level of success you experience with your change.
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