What is the best shift schedule?

What is the best shift schedule?

There are hundreds of different shift schedules in operational use today. Learn the 5 key criteria to determine the best shift schedule for your operation.

QUESTION: The best schedule for my operation is the one that...

   A.  Optimizes operational efficiency.
   B.  Reflects the preferences of our workforce.
   C.  Minimizes employee fatigue and protects health & safety.
   D.  All of the above.

ANSWER: Option D - All of the above:  The optimal shift schedule is one that balances the operational requirements, employee preferences, and lifestyle issues, and the human ergonomic, sleep, and fatigue considerations that influence safety and employee performance. If your schedule is not optimized to all those criteria, it’s ultimately not going to be a winner.

How Do You Find the Best Shift Schedule?

While it is widely perceived that selecting or changing schedules is simply a matter of researching some alternatives to vote on, the reality is that it is a highly complex and volatile issue that can become extremely divisive and counterproductive if not developed properly. 

Ultimately, finding the best schedule for a particular operation requires careful attention to the process of shift schedule design….i.e.,  who chooses the shift schedule and how they choose it is vital to its success.

CIRCADIAN: Shift Schedule Consultant with Proven Change Management Process

Over the past 40 years, CIRCADIAN has helped thousands of companies find the optimal shift schedule for their operations through a proven change management process. Working with both the managers and shiftworking employees we help clarify the operational requirements of the business, systematically determine employee preferences, define health and safety requirements, and help create a win-win solution that is supported by all stakeholders.

CIRCADIAN’s job as a neutral 3rd party expert is to facilitate a process to find the optimal solution. The results are dramatic:

  • Reduced absenteeism.
  • Reduced employee turnover.
  • Reduced accidents and human errors.
  • Improved productivity.
  • Improved employee morale.

The Best Shift Schedule:
5 Tips for Finding & Implementing the Optimal Schedule

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to what the best shift schedule is, as it can depend on various factors such as the nature of the work, the number of employees, and the organization's goals. However, there are some general principles that can be applied to create an effective and efficient shift schedule

1.  Consider the workload and operational needs: The shift schedule should be designed to meet the workload demands of the organization. This means taking into account the number of employees needed to cover different shifts and ensuring that there is sufficient overlap between shifts to ensure a smooth transition.

2.  Take into account employee preferences: It's important to take employee preferences into account when designing a shift schedule, as this can help to improve morale and reduce absenteeism. Educating employees on options, getting their feedback, and then offering shift schedule options that reflect their preferences can help to increase job satisfaction.

3.  Establish health & safety parameters for schedule design: Establishing guidelines on the number of consecutive shifts and work hours can minimize fatigue. Be mindful that frequent changes in shift patterns (i.e., frequent swings from day-to-night shifts) can disrupt an employee's circadian rhythms, leading to fatigue, poor sleep quality, and decreased productivity.

4.  Monitor and adjust the schedule as needed: Regularly reviewing the shift schedule and making adjustments as needed can help to ensure that it remains effective and meets the needs of the organization and its employees.

5.  Provide shiftwork & work schedule lifestyle training: Educating employees on how to maximize their sleep and alertness on the schedule they’re working on can increase safety and retention. Additionally, providing practical tips on managing their diet, health, and family/social life can boost well-being and morale.

Bonus Tip: Seek Help from a 3rd Party Expert. Many managers are familiar with a handful of schedules (e.g., DuPont, Pittman, Southern Swing, 4-4, etc.) and they then limit their options to what they know. It surprises many managers to learn that there are literally hundreds of different schedules being worked in 24-hour operations around the world. Many operations never have a chance to find their optimal schedule because they don’t know even it exists. A 3rd party expert can work with management and employees to define the needs and then seek to identify the schedule options that best meet their needs.

Ultimately, the best shift schedule will depend on the specific needs of the organization and its employees and will need to be tailored accordingly.

Have a Question? Need Shift Scheduling Help?

Whether you want to implement the optimal schedule for your operation or just have a general question, contact us, and speak with a shift scheduling expert.

Phone: 781-439-6300

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