12 unexpected insights ―When it comes to shiftwork, do you know what you don’t know?

All companies are unique. We found this to be true while working with hundreds of organizations across multiple industries. However, commonalities do exist. The following 12 insights tend to be universally true in a broad sense. Interestingly, some of these insights may run counter to your intuition. There are always variances, exceptions to the rule; nonetheless, in general, you can count on the following:

  1. There is a predictable portion of your workforce that wants all of the overtime they can get.  There is an equally predictable portion that never wants to work a single minute of overtime.
  2. When going to a 24/7 schedule, the number of employees that say they will quit is an order of magnitude greater than those that actually end up doing so.
  3. Changing schedules around the holiday season is problematic, as your workforce has already made plans based on their current schedule. There are three “best times” to implement a schedule change.  (Can you guess which ones they are?)
  4. Differences across industries and geographical locations play a surprisingly small role in employee preferences. A chemical plant operator in West Virginia wants the same features in a shift-schedule as an underground coalminer in Australia.
  5. What day shift people want in a schedule is different from what night shift people want. 
  6. As shift workers age, they don’t want to move away from 12-hour shifts.  However, they do want to work fewer days in a row.
  7. Poor communications are the most cited problem that shift workers have with their company.  The rate of pay is a distant second.
  8. Allowing employees to nap during lunch can have a major positive impact on their alertness for the rest of their shift.
  9. Fear of the unknown is the single biggest obstacle to changing shift schedules.
  10. Shift workers don’t like to be told what to do. On the other hand, employee engagement creates ownership of a new schedule.
  11. Maintenance accomplishment goes up on a 24/7 schedule since maintenance is no longer tasked with fixing everything on Sunday ― when everything is idle.
  12. The right balance between hourly workers and supervision plays a major role in employee satisfaction.

Use our industry-wide expertise when evaluating and changing your shiftwork structure.  Give us a call at (415) 858-8585 for a free expert consultation about your situation.

12 most frequently asked questions from business leaders before undergoing a schedule change

Once Operations and Human Resource Managers realize that some pain points may have a common root-cause, they may put their heads together and come to an agreement – their shift schedule may be causing many of their biggest problems.  Some proactive steps must be taken. As an exploration gets underway, questions arise from seemingly every direction. These questions should be embraced. And, there are numerous questions that must be addressed.  Failure to do so doesn’t make the change process easier; it dooms it to failure or, at the very least, sub-par performance. Here is a sampling of some of the most common questions companies have when they start looking into a schedule change:

  1. How many people will leave if we change schedules? ― your guess is probably higher than reality.
  2. What will the new schedule look like? shift length, pattern, staffing all to be considered.
  3. How much overtime should we be using?  ― understanding the right level for our workforce and the cost implications.
  4. We are competing with companies that are all doing the same things we are doing to attract employees.  How can we attract and retain quality employees in a tight labor market?  How can we set ourselves apart?
  5. What can we change about our schedule to lower employee turnover? Is there a schedule that makes people want to stay with a given company?  ― employee participation is key to answering this question.
  6. When is the best time to implement a new schedule?  ― the timing can influence the success of the change process.
  7. What policies need to be adjusted to accommodate a 12-hour schedule? ― holidays, vacations and industry standards are part of the answer.
  8. What is the difference between a young workforce and an older workforce? ― understanding the implications of employee demographics is important.
  9. Should we be using Temporary or Part-Time workers in certain areas?  ― labor costs are important but so is productivity. 
  10. How do we staff and schedule for a variable workload? ― options should include overtime, temporary labor, and complementary/discretionary work.
  11. How do I not disturb the workforce by such a change when implementing change inherently disturbing? ― start with employee engagement.
  12. How do I manage a complex and overwhelming change process successfully?

How you answer these questions and dozens of others will be sure to come up.  This is where Shiftwork Solutions comes in.  Our experts and recognized change leaders have 60 combined years of shiftwork consulting experience, helping business leaders to capture market share, increase profits while attracting and retaining a quality workforce.  We can work with you to create a schedule that promotes your goals. Give us a call at (415) 858-8585 and talk to an expert for free.  We can help you to succeed.

12 Symptoms You May Not Know Are Connected

Business Leaders and Managers regularly scan the health of their organizations. Even the most well-run businesses are embedded in a complex eco-system, one with many influencing factors. Certain sub-optimal signals and symptoms may show up from time to time.  When this happens, managers first look for the root cause which is often buried among multiple signals across several value streams. If there are multiple issues, are they interrelated, or stand-alone? Are the stakeholders aligned or conflicted?  What is the best path towards discovery and resolution?

The list below is a collection of 12 symptoms pointing to scheduling, suggesting that perhaps the system is ripe for a shiftwork structure change:

  1. High absenteeism
  2. Stockpiles and shortfalls within a Value Chain
  3. A steady decline in product quality
  4. Low responsiveness to customer demands
  5. Instances of overstaffing and understaffing
  6. Increasing schedule dissatisfaction voiced by the workforce
  7. Poor quality employee engagement, especially with non-day shifts
  8. Overtime adversely affecting employee morale and productivity
  9. Difficulty in retaining new employees, especially on non-day shifts
  10. High employee turnover
  11. Lack of flexibility needed to respond to variable workload
  12. High FMLA

The list doesn’t end here. Further examples include poor communication between shifts and crews, rising safety issues, especially related to alertness or low maintenance accomplishment. 

If you have questions and want to find out if the symptoms in your organization point to a need to transform your current shiftwork structure, let our experts help to connect the dots.  Give us a call at (415) 858-8585 for a free consultation.