Best practices in shiftwork operations (Part 6 of 10)

  1. Poor distribution of overtime can cause more problems than overtime itself.  About 20% of every workforce never wants any overtime.   Interestingly, a different 20% want all of the overtime they can get.  The remaining 60% will work what they consider to be their fair share of overtime without complaint. What this means is that no matter what your overtime level is, some people will be happy while others are going to complain.  One of the best ways to minimize dissatisfaction with overtime is to make sure you have a distribution policy that focuses on having overtime for those that want it while never having to mandate it.  This can be complicated, requiring strategic staffing and cross-training plans.  However, the result can be a huge boost in employee satisfaction with overall work-life balance.
  2. No matter how much maintenance you think you need, you are wrong.  Plan for that.  Maintenance, specifically corrective maintenance, has no regard for what your staffing is at any given moment of the day.  If your staff is too lean, you risk having an extended downtime.  If your staffing is too high, your costs will be high with potentially no return on that cost.  The best plans include cross-training between trades, a robust call-out system a knowledge base of outside resources.  All of this can be fine-tuned if accompanies by a cost/risk analysis; a study that looks at the cost of various options versus the likelihood of unexpected maintenance downtime occurring.
  3. Sleepiness will harm production, quality, and safety.  High overtime, rotating shifts, and a poor understanding of circadian rhythms as they pertain to sleep needs can all contribute to a workforce that is less than fully alert.  A lack of alertness can impact a person’s judgment when it comes to things like the importance of quality and safety.  Proper staffing, good overtime policies, and employee education concerning sleep can all improve the overall alertness of your workforce.
  4. To attract employees, you need not be perfect.  You just need to be their best option.  Current and future employees will stay with your company so long as they see it as the best choice for them and their families.  Major issues that impact their opinions include the work schedule, overtime, flexibility, and income.  Know who is competing for your workers and strive to be the best choice when it comes to those issues that matter the most to your employees.
  5. Public recognition of a job well done is important. Praising in public for a job well done is Leadership 101.  However, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of meeting production targets while dealing with a desktop full of high-priority projects.  What this means is that public praise needs to be consciously given a high priority or opportunities to do it may pass.  A recent study by Shiftwork Solutions LLC found that employees rated “public recognition” as one of the biggest contributors to their satisfaction with work-life balance.
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