Successful shiftwork solutions balance the organization’s business requirements, employee needs, and the need for healthy and safe schedules. Managers are often caught off-guard by how strongly the workforce reacts to any suggestion that their shift schedule may need to change.
Your employees have structured their lifestyles around your shiftwork operation. When you make changes to the shiftwork system to improve the company’s business position, they often must make major changes to their lifestyles – and this means they should actively participate in the shift work design and selection process.
Having worked with over 200 different facilities to improve their shiftwork operations, our consultants know that employee involvement is critical to the success of any new shiftwork solution. Over the course of a typical project, we formally meet with the affected workforce at least four times to communicate business issues, review alternatives, solicit input, and allow the workforce to choose the final shiftwork system that works best for them. These meetings include:
- Project Orientation Meetings.
These meetings are scheduled as soon as possible after the start of the shiftwork evaluation process. Every company we have worked with has a vibrant informal communication system (a.k.a. The Grapevine). The Grapevine has already alerted the workforce that something is happening that may change their shift schedule or the way they work on shift. The goals of the Project Orientation Meetings are threefold:
- Explain the goals of the shiftwork evaluation process and give the workforce a feel for what is really happening.
- Outline the evaluation process and ensure that employees are aware of how they can involve themselves at each step along the way.
- Begin understanding employee concerns and issues right away. By opening the floor to questions and comments, the workforce gets the opportunity to begin shaping the outcome of the evaluation from the very beginning.
- Employee Survey Meetings.
Since shift work can affect so many areas of the workforce’s lives, we ask them to complete extensive, anonymous surveys on their personal preferences for shiftwork systems and related lifestyle concerns. The survey results help all stakeholders understand the most important issues that need to be addressed in any final solution. These survey meetings are also an opportunity to update the workforce on the business evaluation process and results.
- Employee Survey Results Meetings.
Everyone involved in the evaluation needs to see the survey results – including those that filled out the surveys. These meetings allow us to jointly narrow down the options to two or three final concepts that may result in a successful solution.
- Final Selection Meetings.
Based on the employee survey results and the needs of the business, two to three final options are developed. These options are summarized in writing and reviewed in these meetings. Since all options developed are designed to meet the business requirements, the final choice is left up to the affected employees.
The meetings described above provide the baseline employee involvement level needed to find a successful shiftwork solution that includes employee buy-in. Employees frequently get involved with the process through other mechanisms such as:
ยท Employee shiftwork committees
ยท Union committees
ยท Off-line discussions with company managers and our consultants
ยท Submitting their own solutions
ยท Departmental meetings to pursue alternatives unique to their smaller workgroup
You can also go here to learn more details about how our process fosters employee engagement.
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