The Weekend Warrior Trap

Human Resource Managers; how would you like a schedule that your employees will love?

Plant Managers, how about a schedule that adds 40% more potential production hours onto your weekly schedule?

Now that the hook is baited….shall we take a bite?

If that particular schedule calls for you to hire a weekend crew (aka Weekend Warrior Schedule) then you will want to give this idea a pass.

Weekend Warrior refers to a type of staff scheduling strategy for covering 24/7.

At its most basic level, a Weekend Warrior schedule is one that uses two crews to cover all of the weekend work so the rest of the company’s employees don’t have to. ¬†There are several variations to this. ¬†Here are a few of the more basic models:

  1. Two weekend crews are used.  One crew works 12-hour days on Saturday and Sunday while the other crew works 12-hour nights on Saturday and Sunday. In this way, the Weekend Warrior crews work 24 hours a week and only work 2 days per week.  The regular weekday shifts are covered by three other crews: an 8-hour day crew, an 8-hour afternoon crew, and an 8-hour night crew.
  2. Two weekend crews are used.  One crew works 12-hour days on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday while the other crew works 12-hour nights on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In this way, the Weekend Warrior crews work 36 hours a week and only work 3 days per week.  Mondays through Thursdays are covered by two other crews: a 12-hour day crew, and a 12-hour night crew.
  3. Two weekend crews are used.  One crew works 12-hour days on Saturday and Sunday while the other crew works 12-hour nights on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to the 12-hour weekend shifts, each crew will work 2 other shifts of 8 hours at some time during the week.  In this way, the Weekend Warrior crews will get a total of 40 hours a week.  The regular weekday shifts are covered by three other crews: an 8-hour day crew, an 8-hour afternoon crew, and an 8-hour night crew.  Note that the weekend crews will augment the regular weekday crews when they come in for their additional shifts during the week.

While there are several variations to this concept, these three represent the lion’s share of what we have seen out there.

Now that we’ve clarified the type of schedule, let’s look at The Bait & Trap.

The Bait or the thing that makes this type of schedule so attractive is that it appears to satisfy everyone involved. ¬†The company needs 24/7 coverage and this provides it. ¬†The employees don’t want to work weekends so you hire someone else to do it. ¬†This satisfies your existing workforce. ¬† Potential employees want a job and will often take any shift to get a foot in the door. ¬†This schedule allows people to get that foot in there, provided they are willing to work weekends – done deal.

Here is the problem.  The weekend crew will under-perform unless the company over-pays.  The Trap is that once this becomes apparent (usually within the first 18 months after implementation) it is too late.  Changing the schedule will seem like a take-away and the workforce will fight it tooth and nail.

Let’s look at the “problem” a little more closely. ¬†Here are the things we typically hear:

  • The weekend crew has a high turnover as the employees leave for better hours.
  • The weekend crew has high absenteeism. This job is typically their back-up job. ¬†When they go on vacation from their “main” job, they simply call in sick for their weekend job.
  • The weekend crew is out of touch with the rest of the plant.
  • The weekend crew people move to the weekday crews as soon as there is an opening thus making sure the weekend crew is staffed with the least skilled and newest employees.
  • The weekend crew typically performs at about 60% the rate expected of weekday employees.
  • When the weekend crew comes in for their 8-hour weekday shifts, the plant becomes overstaffed.
  • The weekend crew typically gets a full benefits package. ¬†This means a 50% burden rate on the weekday employees equates to a 60-85% burden rate on the weekend crew’s hours.
  • Some companies, in an attempt to improve retention and performance on the weekend crews, will up the ante. ¬†For example, they may pay forty hours for 24 hours of work. ¬†I have seen companies that do this end up paying about twice as much for each hour worked by a weekend crew as they do for a weekday crew.

It looks good so companies go to it. ¬†It doesn’t work as planned and companies can’t get rid of it. ¬†If that’s not a trap, I don’t know what is.

If you know of anyone that is thinking about implementing a Weekend Warrior Schedule, I recommend that you have them take a look at this posting first.

Let us help you find a customized shiftwork solution that best fits the production needs of your site. 

Use our process of employee engagement to ensure the workforce buys into your new schedule.

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.

Scheduling Supervision

Both, Plant Managers and HR Managers have questions about scheduling supervision; especially with regards to a schedule change.

Let’s cut right to the chase on this one: Should supervisors be on the same schedule as the people that they supervise?

The answer is unequivocal – YES.

Supervisors have one of the most complicated tasks at any facility.  This comes from having to wear two hats at the same time.  They are managers and must support the goals and processes that come down from above.  They are also managers in a change of the productivity, safety, and well-being of those underneath them. 

Image result for supervisionTo do this, supervisors need consistency.  The need to work for the same people so they are getting a consistent message from above.  They also need to have people working for them that they know.  They need to know who needs extra supervision and who can work well independently; who will perform better when verbally praised and who only works under the threat of sanction.  The more often a supervisor matches the workload of his or her crew, the more they know those that work under them.

Equally important is the view from below.  People need to know what is expected of them.  In large part, this expectation comes directly from their supervisor.  You don’t want an operator saying, “Well, Bob wants me to do it this way and Sue wants me to do it that way so I guess I’d better wait and see who shows up to be my boss today.”

There is also the need for accountability.  A supervisor cannot be expected to be accountable to a shift that he or she is only supervising part-time.

There is broad acceptance of this idea, so why spend so much time on it? Why not always put a supervisor with the same crew?

There are a couple of reasons…

First, companies often find resistance from the workforce when they try to change schedules. This can be significant.  If you don’t think so, change your shift start times by 15 minutes and see what happens; then imagine what would happen if you went from a 5-day to a 7-day schedule.  To “soften” the blow, supervisor schedules may be changed first.  They go from a 3-crew, 8-hour schedule to a 4-crew, 7-day schedule with 12-hour shifts.  This change immediately gives the supervisors 78 more days off per year than the 5-day schedule.  The idea is for the workforce to see all of the newly happy supervisors and think “Hey, I gotta get me some of that.”

The problem is, that this “demonstration” can go on for some time.  There is often no objective way to see how far the workforce has swung towards wanting a change.  Furthermore, if the desired effect is not achieved, you will run into supervisor complaints if you try to take their new and improved schedule away from them.  I don’t want to imply that this strategy cannot work. I just want to say, “be careful” when you do it.

Some companies will shy away from the trend of longer shifts for more days off.  They may want to go to a 7-day schedule but using 8-hour shifts instead of 12-hour shifts.  Mathematically, you have two choices here.  If you go to 8-hour shifts, and you want the supervisors to match the employee crews, then the schedule will have to rotate.  Alternatively, you can have fixed shifts but the supervisor schedule will not match the crew schedule.  (Give me a call if you want more details on this one).

One last thing – If your supervisors have more than 20 people working under them, you may be stretching them a bit thin.  This brings up a whole new set of issues.

I have done nothing but work with companies to help them evaluate, design and implement shift schedules for the last 25 years.  It has been my experience that the supervisor component is one of the most important and most overlooked contributors to the success or failure of such a change.

Call Us and find a schedule that works for your company, your hourly employees and your valuable supervisors.

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.

Staffing, overtime and your schedule

One of the most common and misunderstood issues surrounding schedules is the relationship between staffing, overtime and the schedule itself.

The reality is that a schedule has no impact on the quantity of overtime your site is experiencing.

Overtime is a function of (1) How much work is there to do and (2) How many people do you have to do that work.

Your schedule only tells you ‚Äúwhen‚ÄĚ the overtime will occur.

If you take a look at all the hours it takes to get a job done, and then look at how many people you have to do the work, you will know how many hours per person will be needed.

If you have 4,200 hours of work to be done next week and 100 employees to do it, then everyone will average 42 hours of work for an overtime rate of 5%.  Notice that the schedule played no role in determining this figure.

So where does a schedule come into play?

In most cases, a schedule will tell you ‚Äúwhen‚ÄĚ the overtime will occur.

For example, if your schedule has short shifts (i.e. 8 hours or less), the overtime is typically worked before or after a regular shift.  There are two reasons for this.  First, the shift is short enough that you can add hours to it without adversely impacting safety or productivity.  Secondly, the shorter the shift, the more days of work your schedule will have.  This means you have fewer days off.  The fewer days you have off, the more you want to protect them.  Therefore, if you have to work overtime, you‚Äôd rather do it on a day when you are already at work rather than giving up one of your preciously few days off.

If you have longer shifts (i.e. 10-hour or 12-hour shifts) then overtime is much more likely to occur on a regularly scheduled day off.  There are two reasons for this.  First, the longer the shift, the fewer hours you can add before the shift become too long and begin to adversely impact alertness, safety, and productivity.  Secondly, longer shifts have many more days off.  More days off has the impact of lessening the value of a day off, (In much the same way that diamonds would be less valuable if they were laying around everywhere.)  This means that it is less painful to give up a day off when you have a lot of them.

There is one condition where the schedule can play a role in the ‚Äúquantity‚ÄĚ of overtime ‚Äď When you have the wrong schedule to begin with.

The wrong schedule can cause you to take the ‚Äúperfect‚ÄĚ number of people and put them in less than perfect locations.  For example, if you have the right number of people but your schedule causes you to be overstaffed during some time periods; you will then be understaffed during other time periods. This will cause overtime.  More importantly, they will cause Idle Time when you are overstaffed along with the Overtime for when you are understaffed.  Both of these conditions create high avoidable costs that can be eliminated with the right schedule.

Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585.
 

Why should you consider changing your shift schedule?

Changing shift schedules is not like changing the curtains in your kitchen.

It’s complicated.  It disrupts your workforce.  It takes a great deal of effort in an area that you likely have very little experience AND if you make a mistake, you must be prepared to live with it for a very long time.

So, if you don’t need to change your schedule don’t change it.

Having said all of that, there are many very compelling reasons to at least take a look at alternative ways of scheduling your workforce.

Here is a sampling of reasons that companies have given us in the past:

  • We are out of capacity during the weekdays
  • There is no room to expand our facility outside of our current building
  • Overtime is out of control
  • The workforce is tired and mistakes are on the rise
  • Safety
  • Costs need to be contained
  • Product flow is irregular causing shortages and stockpiles
  • Seasonality
  • High turnover
  • We need to reduce shutdown and start-up costs
  • Lean manufacturing initiative is not supported by the current schedule
  • Trouble distributing skillsets across all shifts
  • We are combining two plants into one
  • Lower costs
  • Supervisors don’t match the crew schedules
  • Vacation and absentee coverage is difficult
  • Current schedule does not support training
  • We need to get rid of a weekend warrior schedule
  • We are in a tight labor market and need a more attractive schedule

This list goes on and on.  Nearly every company has its own unique reason for wanting, at the very least, to look at alternative ways of scheduling their employees.

Every company that competes on the open market must be constantly striving to improve.  However, be careful.  Your workforce is likely to be very wary of any attempt to upgrade its schedule.  Interestingly, this is even true if they hate their current schedule.

Call or text us today at (415) 858-8585

Changing Schedules 101

Every now and then, I like to return to the basics.  Today I’m going to cover some of the basic DOs and DON’Ts for those of you considering a change to your schedule.

DO make sure you have clearly identified your needs.  Changing schedules can be a traumatic experience for your workforce.  You don’t want to put them through it over and over again and you seek the perfect schedule coverage through a series of Trials and Errors.

DON’T think that there is a schedule where 100% of your workforce will be happy.  There are two reasons for this.  First of all, shift workers judge a schedule by the time off it provides. Since everyone goes to different lifestyles when they leave work, it is not surprising that they will have different opinions about what schedule best serves their needs.  Secondly, about 5% of every workforce comes to work to be the contrary.  They will oppose any change.  In fact, if you try to appease them by not changing anything – they will oppose that.

DO keep the workforce informed.  As with any change, rumors are the enemy.  There has never been an instance where two shift workers are talking and one says, “I wonder what’s going on with our schedule” and the other one replies, “I have no idea but I’m sure we will like whatever it is that they come up with.”  If what you are planning to do is the right thing, then you should make whatever effort it takes to share your thoughts and actions with those that will be impacted.

DON’T assume that a small change is easy to make.  If you don’t believe this, tell the workforce that you intend to change the shift start times by 15 minutes; then stand back and watch what happens.

DO get the workforce involved.  No one likes to be told what to do.  If you need to change schedules, there must be a reason for this.  Tell the workforce and then solicit their input in creating a solution.  There are always numerous solutions to a scheduling issue; many of which will work equally well.  Since this is the case, why not use the schedule that best meets the needs of your employees.  They know better than you when it comes to knowing what they want.

DON’T assume your current pay and work policies for your current schedule will work equally well for your new schedule.  Things like a vacation, holiday pay and shift differential must be addressed to make sure they are not costing you or the workforce more on the new schedule. When companies contact Shiftwork Solutions because their 24/7 schedule does not work, the problem is rarely with the pattern and nearly always has something to do with policies.

DO your math.  It’s one thing to think you know what you need, it’s another to be able to demonstrate it on paper.  If you can’t justify your schedule change using math, then maybe you are making a change based more on assumptions rather than reality.  I personally don’t like to guess.  I like to measure twice and cut once.

DON’T take short cuts.  Being “penny wise” will result in mistakes and missed opportunities that you will not quickly recover from.

DO be thorough.  Involve everyone in your change process; even those that will not be impacted.  Telling a group “We are changing schedules over in that area and you will not be affected,” is much better than leaving an unaffected group out of the loop and allowing them to make up their own reality.

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.