Why Your 12-hour Schedule is More Attractive than You Think

If you are a Human Resources Manager, then you are well aware of the difficulty in finding quality employees in today’s tight labor market.  You and everyone else in your local area are competing for an ever-shrinking pool of potential employees.  You have a 12-hour schedule and, at first glance, this seems to be putting off new hires before they even start.

If this is true for you, then you may find yourself asking, “Maybe an 8-hour schedule would be better for attracting employees.  Should I try that?”

The answer to this comes from recognizing your audience and the motives of those you are trying to recruit. You might be on a winning track if your offering, is based on the appreciation for your candidate’s goals and showcases the values and benefits of a 12-hour schedule in comparison to an alternative employer and schedule that your candidate may be considering.  Often you will find that your 12-hour schedules are just not “packaged” right in order to make the point that you are the better offer.

Let’s take an example.

The facility across the street is offering an 8-hour day shift with every weekend off.  They are also advertising “No overtime!”  The final nail in the coffin is that they are offering 10% more per hour than you are.

How can you compete? You could point out:

  • the great healthcare plan you have, but if your potential employees are young enough, they are on their parent’s plan.
  • the great retirement benefits but again, younger employees will see retirement as a very distant issue. They want more immediate compensation.

This may feel hopeless but in reality, you may be holding the winning hand; that is if you can get the right message out. Try this instead:

  • “Our schedule has the same annual pay as the company across the street.” You can say this because a 12-hour schedule averages 44 pay hours a week instead of 40 (like the schedule across the street).  The extra pay hours make up for the lower rate of pay.
  • “We don’t have mandatory overtime, but we do offer overtime to those that want it.”  This will appeal to those that don’t want overtime as well as those that do.  The ability to work a lot of overtime is a big attractor for at least 20% of your potential new employees.  Point out how much more money this is. “This can add as much as $XXXXX on an annual basis.”  Remember, they may have a 10% higher wage across the street but overtime pays 50% more!
  • “Our schedule has 78 more days off than the schedule across the street.”  This is a key benefit of 12-hour shifts.  Yes, the days are longer but 78 more days off is very, very attractive.
  • “We offer a 10% shift differential for those that work on the Night shift.”  If your shift differential is not this high, then consider changing it.  10% is the minimum rate it takes to attract people to non-day shifts.
  • “You can use 24 hours of vacation and get a week off.”  This will depend on the schedule pattern, however, a better vacation using fewer hours is a lesser-known benefit of 12-hour shifts.

Depending on the specific 12-hour schedule that you are using, there can be several other benefits that might help you appeal to potential new employees.

Let us help you design a shift schedule that makes you the employer of choice.  We can transform your work environment.  Our employee engagement process ensures maximum support from your workforce.

Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585 to discuss your operations and how we can help you solve your shift work problems. You can also complete our contact form and we will call you.

 

“I Need a Nap!” — It’s time to sleep on shift.

Recently I was meeting with a team of union leaders and managers to discuss their shift schedules and our process for evaluating shift schedules and finding better alternatives. One of the things I often do during the introduction part of the meeting is to ask people to tell me what they want to discuss over the next couple of hours. In this meeting, one of the union leaders semi-jokingly said he wanted to know “when is the best time to sleep on shift?”

Well, that turns out to be a good question. Most of us have probably experienced the alertness boost resulting from a short duration nap. Studies have shown that both alertness levels and performance can improve when shift workers are allowed to sleep on night shifts.

Unfortunately, most organizations have no provision for sleeping on shift. The concerns raised are often around the manageability of the naps. Questions like:

  • How do we ensure people come back to work?
  • How do we keep people safe while they are napping?
  • How do we ensure the nap rooms are only used for naps?
  • What about sanitation?
  • You mean you want me to pay someone to sleep!?
  • If someone doesn’t need a nap, do we have to give them an extra break?
  • If one person takes a nap, and another doesn’t, is that fair?

I have some ideas for addressing some of these concerns, though not all of them. To the question about paying someone to nap, my answer is: If a person needs a nap, you can’t afford NOT to pay them to take a nap. A single mistake can cost much more than a 20-30 minute break for a nap. Especially if the 20-30 minute nap time is created by combining a break period and a nap period.

Let’s ignore the “mistake avoided” benefit for a moment and do some quick math:

  • Assume that a person working a 12-hour night shift is given 15 minutes of nap time that can be taken in conjunction with either a normal break or a lunch break. The extra time can only be used in the nap room.
  • If a person uses their nap break in conjunction with their 30-minute mid-shift lunch, they will come back to their workstation with 5.75 hours of work to complete before their shift is over. Since that 5.75 hours includes another paid break, assume that they actually only have 5.5 hours of actual work time remaining. 5.5 hours x 60 minutes = 330 minutes.
  • A 15-minute investment for the nap will require a 15 minutes/330 minutes or 4.5% improvement in productivity to break even.

Is a 4.5% productivity improvement feasible? That probably depends on the situation. If the work is self-paced, tedious, or intellectually challenging, the answer is almost always going to be “yes”. In many cases, the improvement will be significantly more than 4.5%, and the shift worker will be happier and safer.

Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585.

When should your shifts start?

As a Plant Manager or Human Resources Manager, in a shiftwork operation, you’ve certainly heard “Everyone that I know wants to start the shifts at such-and-such a time.”  You hear this but the question is – What do you do about it?

Should you survey the workforce and let them choose?  Do you have your own idea that possibly is soundly based on a certain business needs?  Can you have multiple shift times?  Can you try one time and then a different time and see which people like best?

This can be a complicated issue.  It can also have a profound impact on how your workforce views their workplace.  If you “impose” a start time then expect to hear a lot of “What we want doesn’t matter.”  If you leave it up to them, then be ready for them to choose something outside of your comfort zone as a manager.

I would like to make two simple points with this blog.  

The first point is, it is always a good idea to look for ways that the workforce can control their work environment.  Letting them choose something as small as a start time for their shift says, “We, as a company, believe that you know best what start time works for you.  You pick it and we’ll support it.”  This is a great message.

The second point is to make sure that you will be okay with what they choose.  This is true with start times or lunch menus or whatever you want them to pick.  

My rule of thumb on start times is that the Day shift shouldn’t start any earlier than 6:00 am.  If you think this is a good idea (read below) then you would make that a condition when you let them pick a start time.

So, what’s wrong with starting before 6:00 am?  Most 8-hour operations have the day shift start between 6:00 am and 7:00 am. The afternoon shift would start 8 hours later; the night shift, 8 hours earlier. For 12-hour shifts, employee preferences for start times tend to be about 30 minutes earlier than their preferences for 8-hour shifts. So, if you are on an 8-hour schedule that has a day shift that starts at 6:30 am, expect the workforce to want a 6:00 am start time for 12-hour shifts.

Our research has shown that employees starting at 6:00 am get about 20 minutes less sleep per night than those starting at 7:00 am. Before you run out and change your schedule, consider the following: (1) shift workers are typically locked into whatever start time you currently have. They will resist change. (2) The later the day shift starts, the later the night shift gets off. This is the trade-off. Ideally, a night shift would end early enough to allow the night shift to get home before the sun comes out. This means getting off earlier rather than later.

Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585.