Best Practices

I am often asked about Best Practices in a shiftwork operation.  In this post, I’ve listed 50 of those practices.  I want to stress that every environment is unique.  Best Practices are not.  What works best at one site may not be applicable to another.

  1. Avoid rotating shifts.
  2. Don’t start earlier than 6:00 am.
  3. Pay 10% to 15% shift differential for non-day shifts.
  4. Don’t pay weekend premiums.
  5. Don’t use a weekend crew.
  6. Operators and Sanitors should be the same people.
  7. Do not overstaff.
  8. Listen carefully for the term “unfair”.
  9. Perception matters more than reality.
  10. 20% of your workforce will work all the overtime you can give them.
  11. Don’t assume a 15-minute change in shift times is “no big deal”.
  12. Continuous schedules can be much more attractive than non-continuous.
  13. Cross-training does not mean everyone can do everything.
  14. Temporary workers cost less and are generally even less productive.
  15. In times of low unemployment, labor is the Cost Maker.
  16. It takes an order of magnitude greater effort to recruit from another plant than from the ranks of the unemployed.
  17. 5% of your workforce will complain regardless of what you do.
  18. There is no such thing as over-communicating.
  19. Try to never stop or start anything…that’s when it will break.
  20. When it comes to overtime, predictability makes it less painful.
  21. Actively look for ways for the workforce to make decisions about their job.  They will own the result.
  22. Your employees want to “see you see them” working on off-hours and weekends.
  23. People don’t like to be told what to do.
  24. Overstaffing is the most expensive labor option.
  25. Do not underestimate the value of strong first-line supervision.
  26. Don’t pay for skills you don’t use.
  27. Poor distribution of overtime can cause more problems than overtime itself.
  28. Customers drive demand and thus, production levels.
  29. No matter how much maintenance you think you need, you are wrong.  Plan for that.
  30. Sleepiness will harm production, quality, and safety.
  31. To attract employees, you need not be perfect.  You just need to be their best option.
  32. The combined intellect of any workforce is greater than any one person.
  33. Public recognition of a job well done is important.
  34. When a team walks out of a meeting, they all own the decision that was made inside.
  35. Risk empowerment.  It will surprise you.
  36. You can only expect what you can inspect.
  37. Seasonality variations require creative solutions to scheduling.
  38. As far as cost is concerned, Straight Time and Overtime are probably within 5% of each other.
  39. Whenever possible, do the math first.
  40. Coach when you can, direct when you must.
  41. Walk in the shoes of those that work for you to find out how they see things.
  42. Don’t change for the sake of changing something.
  43. Shoot the wolf closest to the sled.
  44. 20% of your workforce wants no overtime at all.
  45. Supervision should match the schedule of those they supervise.
  46. Give shift workers at least 4 weeks’ notification before a major schedule change.
  47. Expect a schedule change in one department to impact the schedule needs of another department.
  48. Managers judge a schedule by its coverage.  Shift workers judge a schedule by its time off.
  49. Understand the exact cost of your labor options.
  50. When changing schedules, be prepared to change policies to match.

This list could go on and on.  If you have any to add or would like to discuss any of these, give us a call.

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