Is it possible to implement multiple schedules at one site?

One of the most common questions we hear from our clients at Shiftwork Solutions is, “Can we implement more than one schedule?”

The answer is yes!  This may be the best solution for several reasons, but it comes with caveats.

  1. More schedules mean more complexity.
  2. The complexity must be evaluated on a risk v. reward basis.  Is it worth it?
  3. Framing this with the workforce is important.  Often, multiple schedules address a current condition that may change somewhere in the future.

To examine how multiple shifts could be the answer for you, I am going to create an example.  In this example, there are two production lines.  One needs to run 24/7 while the other needs only five days a week with some weekend overtime.

Your options are as follows:

  1. Put both lines on a 24/7 schedule.  This makes sure you have the coverage you need.  However, it also overstaffs one of your lines.  Having a crew show up when you do not need them is a very expensive way to do business.  Yes, you could say “We’ll find something for them to do,” but if this “something” isn’t being done before the change, why would you need it after the change?  You could send people home when there is no work but do not expect all of your employees to embrace this practice which essentially lowers their incomes.
  2. Keep both lines on a 5-day pattern.  Assuming you still plan on meeting customer demands, this will create a lot of weekend overtime.  You need the weekend production time, but you have no regular schedule to make that happen.  While overtime has many benefits, in the long run, you should expect to see lower productivity, poorer quality, and higher absenteeism.  Keep in mind, probably 20% of your workforce loves all the overtime they can get while an equal number wants nothing to do with overtime.
  3. Implement a 24/7 schedule on the line that needs it and leave the 5-day schedule in place for the line that needs 5+ days of runtime per week.  When we do this, we should expect the following:
    1. The employees on 24/7 will want 12-hour shifts to get half the days of the year off.
    1. The employees on the 5-day schedule will have 8-hour shifts which allow them to keep their current daily routines in place.
    1. There will be overtime due to absenteeism and some weekend work needed on the 5-day line.
    1. If weekend overtime is needed on the 5-day line, remember that the 5-day people can cover the overtime AND half of the 24/7 crews are off. All of them can be used to share the weekend overtime.
    1. Complexities will crop up.  How do you supervise two different schedules?  How do you distribute overtime between the schedules?  Will the pay-policies for the 5-day schedule work on the 24/7 schedule?

In summary, multiple schedules can be tailored to fit both the operational needs of your organization and the diverse work-life balance needs of your employees. If you come across any issues that keep you puzzled, contact Shiftwork Solutions today; we know how to remedy them.

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