Working Shifts? See Different Types of Shift Work

Introduction to Working Shifts

Businesses have unique hours of operation. While some may have employees working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., others will have teams working 24 hours. This all depends on the function of the organization and its consumer base. To ensure all working shifts are properly scheduled, business managers need to delineate the different hours they need staff.

Things to Consider Before Working Shifts

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Work shifts refer to the specific hours and days that an employee is expected to complete tasks for a company. Managers and owners have the freedom to create however many employee shifts in a day. However, it is important that they consider what their business and customers need. For example, it is critical that a hospital has staff on shift at 3 a.m. so they can watch over patients. However, a restaurant may not need an early morning shift.

When setting up employee schedules, management should also take into account the most common types of work shifts. This can help streamline the scheduling process and ensure a consistent work schedule. The following are average working shifts that businesses across all industries use.

1. First Shift

Also known as the day shift, the first shift generally starts in the morning and ends in the late afternoon. For instance, a workday may have a first shift that begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. Managers can also make the first shift start earlier or end later, depending on business needs and preferences. Most organizations, such as offices and manufacturers, will have employees that work the first shift.

2. Second Shift

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The second shift refers to work hours from the afternoon to midnight. Also known as a swing shift, the second shift will usually start around 5 or 6 p.m. But it can also begin as early as 12 p.m. or whenever the first shift ends. According to case studies, the second shift is the busiest shift, especially for restaurants and bars.

3. Third Shift

The third shift is also called the night shift, the graveyard shift, or the midnight shift. This is because it typically starts late a night, around 11 p.m. or midnight. The third shift usually ends in the early morning. Employers that have shift workers working third shifts will pay them a higher rate because working late nights is often undesirable. Healthcare and police officers have third shifts to effectively serve the public.

4. Split Shift

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Split shifts are commonly used by businesses that do not have conventional or consistent hours of operation. With this type of work shift, employees can take a long lunch or rest break in the middle of their shift. For example, a restaurant with a bar may have their bartenders take breaks between lunch and dinner since customer demand for alcoholic drinks is less.

Best Practices for Creating Working Shifts

With so many options for scheduling hourly workers, business owners need to make sure they are boosting productivity. By using the right techniques, organizations will ensure they are using their resources and labor efficiently. Before management schedules employees to a specific working shift, they need to follow these best practices.

Identify Necessary Hours of Operation

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Managers need to determine how long their establishment will be open to serve customers. If they decide their business is closing at 8 p.m. every day, then they will not need to create third shifts.

Assess Demand

It is important to look at the business's peak times, in which customers tend to seek service. Managers can do this by reviewing historical sales data and trends. With these insights, they will know which shifts they need to schedule more employees.

Consider the Different Types of Shift Schedules

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There are different work schedules that managers can use to accommodate employees. For example, if a business operates 24 hours every weekday and weekend, executives should consider implementing rotating shifts schedules. These schedules ensure all employees work different shifts throughout the day for a given period. This ensures that one team is not stuck in a night shift. Other common shift schedules management can use are the following.

  • Fixed Shift Schedules - The working shifts remain the same throughout an employees' time at a company.
  • Flexible Schedules - Employees and employers agree with a specific number of hours that the employee must work. However, the staff member gets to choose when they want to start and leave.
  • On-Call Schedules - These are for employees that are available to work if they are needed. For example, an on-call bartender will work their normal shift and leave after they are done. But if the restaurant manager decides they need help, they can call the bartender back. On-call schedules are usually rotated between employees.

Consider Employee Availability and Preferences

Some people may not be able to work the graveyard shift, due to preferences and personal reasons. Business managers need to value their staff members' time and accommodate their needs. Doing so will ensure productivity and boosted morale. If owners need staff for a specific shift, they should try to talk to their employees or hire staff who are willing to work a shift from the beginning.

Key Takeaways to Working Shifts

  • Working shifts are specific hours and days in a week that an employee agreed to come into work.
  • There are different working shifts that establishments can have, depending on their hours of operations and needs.
  • The most common working shifts are first shift, second shift, and third shift.
  • To ensure companies are efficiently staffing their shifts, managers need to follow best practices.