Shift Management for Budding Businesses

It is increasingly the case that when customers want something, they want it now. The online retail environment has certainly contributed to this phenomenon, but there are other factors, such as increasingly efficient supply chains. Whatever the case, it has given rise to businesses that serve consumers to enforce employee scheduling with longer working days/weeks.

When it comes to a scheduled shift, employees can't work for 12 or 18 hours at a time, however, nor would most desire to do so if they could. This is where shift management comes into play, and why fine-tuning the environment in which employees who work shifts perform their duties has become integral to the objectives of many businesses.

Why Shift Work is Crucial for Growth

The trend toward a wider application of shift work is largely being driven by employees, who have embraced the notion that their work-life should support their lifestyle, rather than the reverse. Concerns over inordinate stress and a desire to embrace healthier lifestyles have a lot to do with this, as well as the need to accommodate things like child care and school schedules.

When workers' personal preferences don't necessarily align with an organization's obligations, schedule, or growth objectives, it can be problematic for the HR manager.

By adopting shift work, a company can more easily accommodate employees' preferences without compromising its own objectives and staff schedule. When employees work shifts, they can choose their hours from a variety of schedules. This serves to make them more productive, as well as feeling more valued by the organization.

When employees are allowed to choose when they work, they have much more control over how they order their lives, and you will see a positive change in each individual's time and attendance. They're more able to sustain their work-life balance, which reduces stress levels. Staff members also tend to work more efficiently and harmoniously, as team communication also improves.

To help manage this new system of scheduling, utilizing employee scheduling software and scheduling apps will prove to be widely beneficial. The best types of programs offer an already-made schedule template and also allow for the integration of an excel template.

When there's a strong shift management system in place, there is also more time to work with employees one-on-one, to support their objectives and assess their work. Some organizations report that with scheduling software and enhanced communication, teams become more cohesive professionally and personally.

Shift work can also give rise to superior customer experience. In retail businesses, shift work can ensure that customers interact with energetic, pleasant employees who are genuinely happy to serve them. For online businesses, shift work enables the business to serve customers 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world.

The medical and food services industries have been employing shift work for a long time, but even these have significantly refined their models in recent years. Such organizations have found that shift workers generally perform to the best of their ability when they are working, serving their patients and customers effectively, and with far less employee burnout.

How to Implement Shift Management

One crucial aspect of implementing effective shift management is securing good shift management software. These utilities are designed to make sure that employees can easily manage their shifts, and that managers and team members are always aware of worker availability and schedule changes in real-time.

With the help of a good work shift scheduler, managers can ensure that employees are satisfied with their shifts by following these simple steps.

1. Evaluate essential details monthly, prior to shift planning

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Determine when employees are available, when they need time off, and which employees are open to working nights or weekends. Further, make sure that employees give notice ahead of time regarding specified hours and/or days they would like off (i.e., family leave, religious holidays, vacations). This aids managers in planning shifts better.

Also, invest in scheduling employees who are punctual and have a good time and attendance record. When it comes to time tracking and the employee schedule, you want to ensure that you are not setting yourself up for disaster by scheduling individuals who are known to have a poor track record.

2. Have employees punch in and out

Integrating a work shift scheduler into current communications tools, like a time clock, which will facilitate workers logging in during their work hours, as well as logging out at the designated time. This makes it simple for managers to keep track of lateness, early departures and unscheduled absences. You will also notice a decrease in labor cost, as overtime hours will begin to dwindle.

3. Keep shift hours consistent

With shift management software, managers have a quick and ready reference to which shifts employees have recently worked. This way, they are able to reliably schedule employees for the same shifts, rather than changing shifts every few weeks. The consistency "builds in" stability for workers in both their work and professional lives.

4. Create a backup plan

Since the unexpected will inevitably occur, it's a great idea to have a fallback for when an employee is ill or takes an unexpected day off. Using a work shift scheduler, managers can assemble a list of employees who are willing to work extra hours and can take extra shifts depending on their availability.

5. Create shorter shifts

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Using shift management software gives managers more flexibility in creating shifts and enhances their ability to effectively keep track of them. Night and weekend workers often have trouble working long hours; breaking their shifts into shorter periods solves this problem, provides opportunities for other workers, and reduces fatigue.

6. Arrange periodic check-ins

Not having to mull over scheduling spreadsheets and notes left on scraps of paper and napkins for hours gives managers more time for employees. Having a routine check-in allows managers to make sure that their employees aren't sleep-deprived, burning out, or struggling in other ways. It also affirms for workers that they are valued by the organization.

7. Rotate shifts

Even with solid shift management and great software, occasionally, workers will have to change shifts, which can be difficult. When this happens, it's a good idea to rotate shifts slowly rather than all at once, and in a clockwise fashion i.e., changing day shifts to afternoon shifts and afternoon shifts to night shifts, rather than moving day workers into night shifts in a wholesale manner.

8. Maintain a shift-friendly workplace

Make sure that the resources and amenities provided by the organization (such as coffee, sodas, and snacks) are always well-stocked, even during later shifts. Keeping the work environment cool and brightly-lit goes a long way toward keeping employees alert, which also cuts down on errors and accidents.

9. Reward performance

Shift work is inherently taxing for employees. Generally, it means adjusting to an entirely different lifestyle. Managers can reward performance by offering incentives, which motivates workers to perform better and helps teams become more efficient. Such benefits as travel reimbursements, food allowances, or other perks demonstrate that the organization prioritizes its well-being.

How to Manage Employees' Safety

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Good shift management software is designed to simplify shift management for workers and managers alike. One aspect of this has to do with cutting down on life disruptions and employee fatigue. This is important because worker fatigue is a serious workplace issue. According to the National Safety Council, 62% of night-shift workers get inadequate sleep because they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep after working nights.

Here are some recommendations for cutting down on worker fatigue and fostering a safer workplace

  • Keep long shifts, consecutive night shifts and overtime to a minimum.
  • Avoid changing shifts too quickly, and allow employees a minimum of 48 hours off between shifts.
  • Rotate shifts clockwise to give employees time to get used to new schedules.
  • Give shift workers weekends off so they can spend time with friends and family.
  • Ensure that shift schedules are predictable so that employees can make plans outside of work.
  • Create shifts with a mind toward the workload. For example, duties that call for intense focus or heavy manual labor can be done by more workers across shorter shifts, thus eliminating the chance for fatigue to set in.
  • If possible, provide lively music to help keep workers alert.
  • Provide an adequate number of breaks. For workers who do repetitive or heavy physical work, or who must sit for long periods, brief hourly breaks can help muscles recover, or just give a chance for workers to get some air and stretch their legs.
  • If at all possible, make shift work a voluntary commitment. Pay incentives can be used to get volunteers for night shifts, but be aware that many shift workers never quite get used to night shifts because they slip back into a regular schedule on their days off.
  • Watch for the signs of worker fatigue. These can include such things as errors on the job, lack of focus, irritability, dozing off and a falling-off of personal hygiene.
Shift management is inherently complex, but with a good work shift scheduler, it doesn't have to be the nightmare that many business owners and managers experience on a regular basis. The right system not only allows for the simple and straightforward management of employees, but frees up management and promotes the organization's overall efficiency.

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