Practices to Manage Variable Workloads

How to maintain the right amount of coverage and minimize the costs

by Dan Capshaw & Bruce Oliver- Shiftwork Solutions LLC

Does the demand for your company’s product(s) follow a seasonal pattern or exhibit other periodic variations? As long as the changes in demand are not “permanent,” there is no reason to hire enough employees to cover the peak workload requirements. If you did, you would have to either lay them off when demand dropped, or retain and pay them during periods when they were not needed. Paying for this “idle” time can be very expensive.

Here are four options frequently used to maintain the right amount of coverage and minimize the costs:

  • Planned overtime
  • Temporary employees
  • Discretionary work management
  • Planned time-off management

Planned Overtime

Planned overtime is the most flexible option of the four. It allows you to vary the coverage from a fixed number of employees. Although the overtime is usually paid at a higher rate, it is not an on-going cost. You pay for it only when the extra capacity is needed. Thus the incremental cost of increasing coverage is relatively small.

When you hire more employees, the added cost includes both wages and benefits, and you pay these “loaded” wages even when the workload drops and the people are no longer needed.

This means you can minimize your costs by covering the majority of the workload variations with overtime.

The major drawback comes from higher levels of overtime over an extended time period. When overtime exceeds 20% of the total hours for a sustained period, it can have adverse effects on morale, safety, and productivity.

Temporary Employees

Fortunately, overtime is not the only mechanism that we can use to match the coverage to varying production demands. Another alternative is to use temporary and contract labor to cover 10% or more of the labor required to run a typical manufacturing organization. While the problems associated with using temporary labor are well documented, the ability to economically flex up and down by 10% without affecting the rest of the workforce should not be ignored.

Discretionary Work Management

Another way to address variable workloads is to use discretionary work (such as training) to fill in for the slow periods. Discretionary work needs to be done at some point during the year, but its timing can be matched to the availability of resources to perform that work.

Suppose you have a significant drop in demand around the holiday period in December and January. These months would be an ideal time to build in some extra training. In fact, this is an ideal time to hold training that is best done when the entire crew needs to be together.

Other discretionary work, such as special maintenance or cleaning activities, can also be scheduled for these slow periods. One of the goals of discretionary work during slow periods is to convert potential idle time into productive time. Using “busy work” to fill idle time will not reduce operational coverage costs unless that work must be done to keep the plant operational.

Depending on how much discretionary work exists, it may be worthwhile to increase staffing slightly to allow more unassigned time to perform the discretionary work. The risk of doing this is that when the discretionary work cannot be matched to the built-in idle time, costs rise.

Planned Time-off Management

Employees take planned time-off for vacations and floating holidays. This time-off typically is more than 5% of an employee’s scheduled work hours over the course of a year. During peak production periods, employees taking time off are usually replaced by other employees working overtime. During non-peak periods, there is no need to use overtime to replace these absences, so idle time is reduced.

The objective of managing this planned time-off is to encourage personnel to take their time-off during slow seasons, and not to take it off during periods of peak production. Three ways to do this are:

  1. Restrict the number of people that can be on vacation at any one time. During peak production demand seasons, time-off controls can be tighter than they are during the non-peak seasons. This effectively shifts planned time off to the non-peak seasons.
  2. Schedule plant shutdowns during the slow months and require unnecessary personnel to take a vacation. This uses up vacation, reduces production hours, and allows for maintenance to be performed.
  3. Schedule personnel to take a vacation even if the plant is operating. In other words, if employees have not chosen a vacation time that meets the business needs, schedule it for them (with their input). This allows management to substitute vacation hours for idle hours.

For all three of these methods, the biggest risk lies in the employees believing that their time-off is restricted for arbitrary reasons. Therefore, when one or more of these methods is used, management needs to carefully explain why the needs of the business require time-off to be managed. Equal application of the planned time-off management techniques will reinforce the message that the rules are established to help manage seasonal workload and other business issues.

Managing planned time-off effectively can allow you to increase staffing so that more work is performed on straight time and less on overtime. Like discretionary work management, if planned time-off is not managed effectively, it can exacerbate the variable workload problem.

Summary

To summarize, the best practices for managing variable workloads are to:

  1. Use overtime to cover the majority of workload variability that exists.
  2. Use a 10% buffer of temporary employees to flex your capacity up and down to match the changing workload (but only if the skill requirements allow it).
  3. Minimize actual idle time by planning discretionary work and training to be performed during the slow periods.
  4. Manage planned time-off so that more time is taken during slow seasons than during peak demand seasons.

Call Us and We Can Help

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.

Reducing Employee Turnover

A case study

Problem

This food processing company was experiencing severe problems with employee turnover. The underlying cause of this turnover problem was excessive overtime.

Located in a small town with several other labor-intensive companies, the company constantly competes for labor, often operating with less than a full complement of personnel. This staffing shortfall was resulting in substantial overtime which, in turn, created an even higher turnover. Overtime policies allowed senior employees to accept or decline overtime work as they saw fit. When the senior employees chose not to work overtime, the newer employees were forced to work tremendous amounts of overtime, especially during the undesirable periods (i.e. on weekends). The high overtime levels meant that new hires frequently worked long stretches of days in a row causing them to seek greener pastures.

Action

Employee preferences: Employees wanted predictability, a choice in the type of schedule they worked, and reasonable time off to spend with their families.

Business requirements: A business analysis indicated that considerable productivity improvement would be realized if most of the operation changed from a combination of high production on weekdays and limited production on weekends to moderate, steady production seven days a week.

Implementation: In the end, two schedules were implemented. One schedule was a traditional 5-day schedule using 8-hour shifts. The second schedule, used by half of the operation, was a 7-day shift schedule using 12-hour shifts.

Employees on the 7-day schedule were protected from working a scheduled weekend off. They also received about 10% more income and 78 more days off than those on the 5-day schedule.

Interestingly, the company had no problem filling the employee positions on the 7-day schedule. The increased predictability, income and number of days off actually made the 7-day schedule more popular than the 5-day schedule.

Results

After six months on the new schedule, the workforce was surveyed to provide a “before and after” picture. Using indices to measure performance, the change is shown below:

  1. Communication: +5.5%
  2. Management’s openness to workforce input: +13.8%
  3. Employees feeling that they are a part of the company: +11.9%
  4. General quality of work environment: +21.1%
  5. Facility rating relative to other companies in the area: +21.2%
  6. Schedule predictability: +40.6%
  7. Schedule flexibility: +47.5%

These improvements in employee perception pertaining to the company and the work environment resulted in a greater than 50% reduction in turnover.

Call Us, and We Can Help

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.

What does the New Year Bring to a Tight Labor Market?

During our 30+years of cross-industry experience we have found that once unemployment drops below 6%, companies find it hard to staff adequately to meet production demands.  At the current 3.6% unemployment rate [1] a labor shortage is the single biggest production problem many companies are facing. For as many as eleven states, unemployment falls to between 2.3% and 2.9%.[2] What this means, is that almost everyone who wants a job has a job.  No wonder, if you ask any production or human resource manager: “What was the biggest challenge last year?” they will almost certainly give some version of “It’s becoming harder and harder to find employees in this ever-increasingly tight labor market.” They are most likely fighting this battle on two fronts:

(1) Getting quality employees to join their company

(2) Keeping those employees satisfied enough to keep them from leaving.

When it comes to attracting quality employees, the beginning of the year, however, represents an opportunity to jump-start your hiring efforts to hire quality employees ― without “poaching” from the company down the street.  According to the BLS, more than 600,000 temporary jobs were added for the holidays nationwide in 2018.  Most of these new hires were let go by February of 2019.  Given this seasonal pattern for the new year, we can expect that there are going to be a lot of people looking for work this January and February.  Keep this in mind as it may be a good idea to strike while the iron is hot. 

When it comes to keeping quality employees, it is always preferred to keep them rather than trying to constantly replace them.  When you slow down turnover, you immediately take a huge burden off of your recruiting and training efforts.

How to do that? Here are some insights for a shift work environment

  • Why Your 12-hour Schedule is More Attractive than You Think?
  • What is important about work-life balance?
  • What do you need to know about overtime?
  • 12 Unexpected Insights: do you know what you don’t know?
  • Why should you consider changing your shift schedule?

Our experts at Shiftwork Solutions have looked at the reasons why employees leave companies, such as inclusiveness, work-life balance. Their workforce survey is an integral part of their solutions which leads to happier employees who feel valued and are instrumental in delivering on growth targets.

Give us a call at (415) 858-8585 and talk to an expert for free.  We can help you to succeed.

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Footnotes:

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), January 1, 2020

[2] Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) January 1, 2020

Have you Made Your Business Resolutions Yet?

If you want happier employees this year, you may consider doing some things differently than last year. Otherwise, if you do what you did, you’ll get what you got. Employee engagement, better-work life balance, and improved communication might be at the top of the wish list. But what comes after establishing these resolutions? How to execute on those? You may start collecting a set of SMART goals1 that support the resolutions the best. However, before starting to jot down your goals for the year, let us borrow James Clear’s thoughts on goal setting. Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, claims that “goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress. Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually, a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.” 2  

An example: if you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book by a certain date. Your system is the daily writing schedule you follow. Committing to writing a blog every day is a process that makes a writer confident (s)he is going to get to his/her ultimate goal of publishing the book.

It is also true for a shift work operation. Goals are useful and needed for setting a direction, but you need a system in place to make progress. Deploying a vetted, transformed shift work system is the way to achieve many of the high priority goals.  Changes in the outcome require changes in the process.

If some indicators have revealed that workforce and schedule related changes are needed for your business success, you might be ready to implement some change. A well-designed, transformed shift work system will ensure that the desired changes happen, and your resolutions come true. It will support numerous underlying goals, which include:

  1. Reduce employee turnover
  2. Improve overtime distribution policies
  3. Reduced absenteeism
  4. Increase employee involvement
  5. Improve work-life balance
  6. Eliminate unnecessary labor costs
  7. Improve communication with the workforce
  8. Adjust supervision: optimal direct-reports ratio
  9. Increase time for maintenance
  10. Fully staff all non-day shift positions
  11. Improve shift turnovers
  12. Identify workplace issues that employees find problematic
  13. Solve staffing needs for a seasonal workload
  14. Maximize productive time per line
  15. Maximize employee schedule satisfaction
  16. Build training time into the employee work schedule
  17. Implement interactive electronic employee schedule management system
  18. Increase schedule flexibility
  19. Improve technical support for non-day shift operations
  20. Increase workforce involvement in problem-solving exercises

That is how the right schedule in place can bring about happier employees. Side effects may include improved responsiveness to customer demands, an increase in revenues, a good grip on overtime, product quality improvements, and more effective communication with the workforce and within teams.  

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If you have questions or want to find out more, contact our team.  Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585 to discuss your operations and how we can help you achieve your goals. You can also complete our contact form and we will call you.

Shiftwork Solutions’ Consulting Services creates a shift operation framework that enables business operations leaders to increase production and attract a skilled workforce into a custom-designed schedule. Our experts bring in best practices from wide-ranging industries with complex operations to tailor solutions for specific operational needs. Our data-driven processes, communication centered approach and project execution bring about the changes needed to improve business operations and production output, and reduce per-unit costs, while workers feel empowered to help the organization achieve its goals.

Footnotes:

1. SMART ― specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.

2. James Clear on goal setting https://jamesclear.com/goal-setting

Shiftwork Solutions Survey System

Shiftwork Solutions uses surveys to engage the workforce as well as to find out what is really going on from their perspective. This process facilitates the identification and implementation of the ideal shift schedule solution.

If you are like most successful companies, you have made Employee Engagement a top priority.  You have a participative environment that invites the workforce to share in the creation and therefore, ownership of solutions to operational issues and problems.

Then, one day along comes the need to look at your shift schedule.  Perhaps you are running too much overtime, or you are out of capacity.  Maybe your product flow is not optimized, or your employees are dissatisfied with the current schedule.  For whatever reason, you come to the point in time where there is a need to consider changing your shiftwork structure.

Many companies find that changing shift schedules generates a surprisingly visceral response from their employees.  There is a reason for this; an important reason.  Shift workers don’t judge a schedule by the hours it makes them work.  They judge a schedule by the hours it DOESN’T make them work.  In other words, their schedule tells them how they can structure their lives outside of the workplace.

If you change a schedule, you are changing the lifestyle of your employees. This makes it personal.

With a change like this, standard practices can become stretched or even non-functional.  Employee Engagement practices that worked before are now viewed through skeptical eyes.

Shiftwork Solutions has helped hundreds of companies and their employees through this time of high anxiety. We have created a solution, a Survey System, which helps overcome disruptions of this kind.  This is an Employee Engagement Tool with quantifiable results.

Edward Deming famously said, “In God we trust; all others bring data.”

The Shiftwork Solutions Survey System consists of three separate surveys; each sequential one building on the results of the previous surveys. The surveys themselves are designed to find out what the workforce is looking for with regards to a work-life balance.  How much overtime do they want?  What types of patterns do they prefer?  What is their favorite shift to work?  The surveys also find out about attitudes towards the company as well as how they are dealing with alertness and sleep issues. The data collected by the survey system allows us to drill down to the important issues as well as identify hot spots.  Results are tabulated in different ways, including (1) By shift, (2) By length of service, (3) By department and (4) By current shift assignment.

The administration of the surveys includes comprehensive communications with the workforce.  We make sure that everyone is well informed.  They will know what is going on, why things are happening, when things are happening and, most importantly, what level of input is needed from the workforce. Remember, the schedule is about their quality of life away from work.  If you want to know what that looks like, you need to ask.

Why are the surveys important?

Beyond the fact that they get the workforce involved, they allow us to create a shiftwork structure that meets their needs.  Beyond that, the surveys also help find solution best supporting your strategic business direction.

The Shiftwork Solutions Survey System, administered by our shiftwork experts, is what you need to keep your employees focused and engaged as you work through a major change in your shift schedule.

Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585 to discuss how our survey system can help you find the key to satisfying your employees’ work-life balance needs while, at the same time, achieving your business goals.

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.

 

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.

Overtime: A Grab-Bag of Information

If you manage a shiftwork operation or if you are a Human Resource manager in a shiftwork operation or if you are a shift worker then – Overtime is a big deal.

Based on my 30 years of experience working with shift workers and shiftwork operations, I consider myself to be an overtime expert.  I have worked with companies around the world for more than 25 years helping them address staffing and scheduling issues, most of which have some level of overtime as a component of the overall situation.

  I thought I would try to put all of these issues into a single blog along with my own perspective.  Wish me luck…

  1. An hour of straight time (fully loaded) costs a company about the same as an hour of overtime paid at the rate of time and one-half.
  2. About 20% of people love overtime.  About 20% of people hate overtime.  About 60% of people will work their “fair share”.
  3. When it comes to overtime, the “marginal propensity to save” is always less than one (1).  What this means is that people don’t save 100% of their overtime income.  This also means that they up their standard of living when they spend overtime income (even if this means they only bought an extra candy bar).
  4. As people adjust their standard of living, they become “addicted” to the overtime.
  5. Consistent high levels of overtime extending beyond 6 months in a row will result in “Golden Handcuffs.”  This is a phenomenon where people will complain about too much overtime ruining their family lives AND complain if overtime hours are cut because they can no longer afford to make a car or house payment.
  6. Overtime at union sites is a particularly tough problem.  Senior employees get the prime overtime during the week and the junior employees end up working the undesirable weekend overtime  The result is a high turnover of new employees who tire from never having a day off.   I typically recommend that senior people get first shot at overtime up to a certain level (56-60 hours in a week) before they go to the bottom of the volunteer list.  I also typically recommend that junior employees are the first to be forced to work overtime up to a certain level (56 -60 hours in a week) before they go to the bottom of the forced list.  This recognizes seniority while keeping people from “voluntarily” working themselves to death while, at the same time, giving the junior people time off to recuperate every week.
  7. If your workload is flat (does not change by the week, or month or season) then a good target for overtime is between 5% and 15%.
  8. If your workload is highly variable, the optimal level of overtime (considering both cost and fatigue) may be much higher than 15%.
  9. Too much overtime is less of a problem than too many days of work in a row.  We short ourselves sleep on days we work.  The more days in a row we work, the farther we fall behind in our sleep.  We need days off to catch up on our sleep.  In other words, it’s better to work four 12-hour shifts in a week than to work six 8-hour shifts.  Both have 48 hours but the 12’s have 3 times as many days off for recovery.
  10. If a machine paces the work, then moderate levels of overtime will not have an impact on productivity.
  11. If people determine the pace of work, more overtime will cause the people to slow down, even if it is unintentional.
  12. Overtime at high levels will cause drops in productivity, safety, quality, and retention.
  13. When assigning overtime, do so as far in advance as possible to minimize the disruption to the plans your workforce may make outside of the work environment.
  14. If your overtime level is zero, you are not “perfectly” staffed.  You are over-staffed.
  15. The accident rate per hour should be expected to go up between the 12th and the 14th hour worked in a day.
  16. Overtime does not make people sleepy.  Lack of sleep makes people sleepy.  Circadian rhythms also play a role in alertness.
  17. Overtime allows a company to compete for labor with other companies that may pay higher hourly rates but offer very low overtime amounts.
  18. When people work outside of their normal schedule, pay them a premium.  They are helping you on time that was originally considered to be their own.
  19. Straight time is typically purchased in 40 hour/week increments when you hire someone.
  20. Overtime hours can be purchased in any quantity you wish.  Even though it costs the same as straight time, you are actually getting a fully qualified person as opposed to hiring and training someone to provide more hours.
  21. All employees want overtime when they want it and they don’t want it when they don’t want it.  Go figure.

I welcome your questions and feedback.  If you disagree with me, first ask yourself, “Is my perspective different from the one Jim was using when he wrote these?”  I say this because I can easily find unique situations where each of the above is not true.
 

Call Us and We Can Help

Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585 to discuss your operations and how we can help turn overtime into an asset that your workforce appreciates. You can also complete our contact form and we will call you.

Our Clients Are Talking

Every now and then, we like to make sure that organizations not only recognize our knowledge about shift work and the change management process around it but they feel assured that we bring that high level of expertise to the table with every company we work with.

We’d like to share some quotes from past clients and take this opportunity to thank them for their kind words.

“Hiring Shiftwork Solutions was some of the best dollars we have spent. We hired them to help us go to continuous operations with buy-in from the workforce. Dan Capshaw’s exemplary operations analysis and work with our people showed how tightening our policies would be supported by the workforce and allow us to gain the additional capacity that we needed without changing schedules at this time. If you are looking for someone with sincerity and sensitivity in dealing with the whole workforce, then Dan Capshaw and Shiftwork Solutions are the ones you want to call.”  Rick Rinard, Plant Manager, Dana Corporation

“Kellogg Company has used Shiftwork Solutions to implement alternative work schedules at several manufacturing locations across the US. We are extremely satisfied with the results. Shiftwork Solutions has developed a well-defined, easy-to-understand process to engage both our management teams and our hourly employees in the evaluation of various schedules and most importantly, ownership in deciding which schedule is best for them and how to best transition to those schedules. Morale has increased significantly at each of our facilities in which Shiftwork Solutions has assisted us in transitioning to alternative work schedules.”  Mark Paschal, Senior Director, HR Practices, Kellogg Company

“Shiftwork Solutions helped us to successfully expand from 5 days a week to 7 days a week. Their expertise was instrumental in achieving employee support for this change.” Kathy Amrhein, Human Resources Manager, Pharmacia

“A shift structure change is an emotional event for an organization and Shiftwork Solutions was great in not only helping us manage that change but in helping the organization decide what change should be made.” Mike Vanhoy, Vice President of Operations, Infineon Technologies

Jim Dillingham of Shiftwork Solutions is right up there with the best among consultants and business leaders. He learned our business very quickly by studying data and briefly meeting with key people from all levels. By working with and quickly gaining the trust of our people, Jim eliminated the volatility, softened emotions, eased fears, and helped our people select an alternate schedule that best matched their lifestyles. His disarming nature, thorough knowledge of the intricacies of work schedules and how they affect associates and their families, and superb communication skills led to a very successful implementation of an alternate schedule that significantly reduced overtime and turnover. Jim’s help in writing policies and procedures not only for ongoing, day-to-day operations but also for the implementation saved us time and anguish. I knew very little would have to be tweaked as we worked with our new rules for vacation scheduling, holiday pay, overtime, pay periods, and attendance. He delivered the best results per consulting dollar I have ever seen. On top of all this, he is fun to work with. Even though we are well over a year into our new schedule, our people still ask me if I ever hear from Jim Dillingham.” John Bartman, SPHR, Vice President, Human Resources, Snyder’s of Hanover

“…As a union organization, we are acutely familiar with some of the problems associated with shift work. Trying to balance a company’s needs with the needs of its members is not an easy task. “Our members at Electric Boat Corporation successfully changed to an alternative shift schedule to meet operational demands. Dan Capshaw from Shiftwork Solutions was instrumental in helping the company find fair alternatives that met our members’ needs. If you are thinking about changing schedules, I highly recommend you give Dan a call.”  Mel Olsson, President, UAW Local 571

“Surviving in the tough business world we live in today requires three major components: satisfied shareholders, satisfied customers, and satisfied employees. Shiftwork Solutions led us through a high-quality process that proved that a win-win-win is possible, practical, and profitable. Building flexibility into our operating schedules, while meeting these three major components of our business, significantly positioned our operations for a workable long-term business equation.” Rick Halpin, Plant Manager, Polymer Group Inc.

“Shiftwork Solutions helped us focus our resources on our most productive equipment — allowing us to increase our capacity by over 10% without increasing labor costs or buying new equipment. The return on our investment in their consulting services was outstanding.”  Mike Crane, Executive Vice President, Crane Plastics Company

“When it comes to helping shiftwork operations perform at the highest level possible, the consultants at Shiftwork Solutions are the best.”  Bruce Hill, Vice President of Human Resources, The American Coal Company

“…Your obvious expertise in shift scheduling, Shiftwork Solutions’ database of schedules and survey results, and the empathy, sincerity, and sensitivity that you showed in dealing with our people were exemplary. In combination, these factors produced an on-target consulting result, which was by far the most impact delivered per consulting dollar that I have seen.”  C. David Lilly, President, SiteRock Corporation

“If anyone is looking to move to a 24/7 shift operation, Shiftwork Solutions is the greatest resource you will find.  They work with your employees throughout the entire process getting their feedback and buy-in allowing you to focus on satisfying your customer needs.  They are truly awesome to work with and are there for you during all phases of the project.” Carol Jacobson, Human Resources Manager, Menasha Packaging

“Jim Dillingham and his team at Shiftwork Solutions provided great insight and were an invaluable resource allowing us to seamlessly implement the 24/7 schedule while keeping our team members actively engaged in the process.”  Bill Berg, Regional Operations Manager, Menasha Packaging

“Jim provided invaluable insight into the many aspects of selecting our 24/7 shift system for our new plant in CA. We were looking for help and guidance in what felt like a minefield of possible outcomes. His analytical approach helped us understand and quantify many possibilities. His years of hands-on implementation knowledge and experience prepared us for the key and most important part of any proposed change, it’s the rollout. We took to heart his emphasis on getting the message right, communicating effectively and educating the affected employees on the new schedule”  Lee Jared, Vice President / General Manager, Kalle Group / Jif-Pak

”Shiftwork Solutions enabled us to schedule our facility in the best way possible to meet our growing customer demand. The experience that Jim Dillingham brought to the table prevented us from making a lot of the mistakes we would have made had we sought to implement this strategy on our own. Jim was outstanding at effectively communicating the desired changes with our employee base, and collaborating with both the company and the union, in order to obtain the information and buy-in necessary to successfully implement a shiftwork schedule. Additionally, the data Jim was able to gather from his face-to-face discussions and surveys with our associates continues to help us optimize our scheduling to best suit our company and workforce needs. I would highly recommend Shiftwork Solutions to any company considering conversion to a shiftwork schedule.” Joseph J. Buchanan, Plant Manager, Carl Buddig & Company

“Jim Dillingham of Shiftwork Solutions LLC made a very significant contribution to our getting major and beneficial scheduling changes to the contract; doing so in a collaborative, non-adversarial way. I certainly appreciate his professional and team-oriented approach.” Howard Bernstein, Partner at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg  (Howard represents employers throughout the U.S. in labor relations and employment law matters and employment-related litigation, with an emphasis on contract negotiations, arbitrations and injunction proceedings, NLRB election campaigns, unfair labor practice cases, and employment discrimination matters.)

“Shiftwork Solutions provided the expertise we needed to evaluate the pros and cons of the various shift arrangements that can be used for continuous operations. Jim Dillingham coached our entire organization from how the various shifts work, associate survey, policy changes, implementation, and follow-up. Highly recommend both Shiftwork Solutions and Jim Dillingham to get it done right the first time.” Tom Gilmore, Sr. HR Manager Nissin Brake

“Shiftwork Solutions LLC exceeded my expectations while facilitating an agreement between the union and management to implement a totally overhauled continuous operation work schedule for our 300 person facility. Given the long history of the plant, I was pleasantly surprised at how easily Jim Dillingham was able to get the job done. Jim’s experience not only helped us reach a quick agreement but additionally, we found a detailed solution that was well received by both sides after the contract.”  Bernie Anderson, President Miba Bearings US, LLC

We are proud to provide expertise organizations value and address the challenges they face due to fluctuating demand, specifics of labor supply or else. Through our services they have fully implemented new schedule patterns supported by team members, they have a managed transition — policies and processes in place,  engaged management and –  if needed – union negotiation during the change process. They gain additional capacity, save costs, time and anguish. They can reduce overtime, increase output and adjust to fluctuations in demand to ultimately arrive at satisfied customers, employees, and stakeholders.

 We appreciate the opportunity to think with them and work with them to achieve their highest potential.

Call Us and We Can Help

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.