8 Major Advantages of 12-Hour Shifts: A Manager's Perspective


Have you considered changing your workplace schedule? Uncertain about the benefits of a 12-hour shift? Are you trying to rationalize the change with the workforce and upper management? Here are a few key insights that might help with your decision regarding a shift schedule change.

With companies searching for ways to increase productivity and reduce costs, many managers are working with their employees to evaluate alternative shift scheduling practices. There are a variety of scheduling systems available, and there is an endless array of opinions supporting and refuting each one.

While there are mixed opinions regarding different shift lengths, 12-hour shift schedules are continuing to grow in popularity. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Increased productivity, reduced errors

With a 12-hour shift schedule, there are only two shift turnovers per day, resulting in fewer opportunities for miscommunications and production disruptions that may occur during shift changeover periods. This can translate into increased productivity, along with lower error and accident rates.

2. Increased continuity and accountability

On most days, crew A turns the plant over to crew B at night, and then crew B turns the plant back to crew A the next morning. No one finding a problem can “pass the buck” to a third crew, as may occur with 8-hour shifts. Crews are motivated to hand over and receive their jobs with the problems fixed or at least identified and communicated.

3. Reduced adaptation time

Many shift workers need a ramp-up period to get adjusted to each shift, i.e., adjusting monitors and organizing tools, etc. Many state that they are “in the groove” at the 8-hour point, and would rather continue because it’s easier and because 12-hour shifts provide more days off.

4. Higher project completion rate

On 12-hour shifts, a greater number of long tasks and projects can be completed within a shift, such as extended maintenance tasks. Considering that most maintenance tasks require extensive lock out/tag out procedures, substantial time can be lost in preparing for a safe crew change-over that involves uncompleted tasks.

5. Reduced absenteeism

Shift workers often “think twice” about taking a shift off, because doing so uses 12 hours of leave time and/or can result in a smaller paycheck. They also tend to feel more accountable to their crew or to the person who may need to be called in on a day off for 12 hours of relief coverage.

6. Lower attrition and turnover

The increased number of days and weekends off is too compelling an incentive to encourage a return to 8-hour workdays, as 12-hour shifts result in 91 fewer shifts per year and double the weekend time off (26 vs 13 days) in 24/7 operations. In an industry-wide survey of chemical plants, 96.5% of employees working 12-hour shifts reported no interest in changing back to an 8-hour schedule.

7. Improved morale

Twelve-hour shifts typically prove more popular with both shiftworkers and their families. Stress is reduced, and the quality of work and home life is improved greatly.

8. More dedicated employees

During their three to four consecutive days on duty (with 12-hour shifts), shiftworkers tend to concentrate more on their jobs. On 12-hour workdays, employees are more likely to avoid major social events, excessive alcohol consumption or physically taxing activities in their fewer hours of free time.

The multitude of benefits associated with 12-hour shift scheduling has gained the attention of shiftwork managers, many of whom have switched their scheduling practices to improve employee performance and operational efficiency.

Of course, there are a variety complex factors that influence which schedule is best for your workplace, such as: number of employees, industry type, and 5 vs 7 day operation schedules – not the least of which are the labor relations issues associated with scheduling changes. These factors, along with others, should be taken into serious consideration whenever contemplating shift scheduling decisions.

Want to learn more about 12-hour shift schedules?

Download our free CIRCADIAN white paper, "Advantages & Disadvantages of 12-Hour Shifts: A Balanced Perspective"

12 hour shift schedules


12 hour shift schedule white paper

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