Shift Scheduling

The largest contributor to risks and costs in 24/7 and shift work operations is the shift schedule. With sub-optimal shift schedules, employee performance is impaired. This negatively impacts shift worker productivity, absenteeism, employee turnover, health, and safety. The process of finding the right shift scheduling solution can be tough, and this is where CIRCADIAN®’s experience and solutions are invaluable.

Determining The Best or Optimal Shift Pattern for your Operation

cvr 24 hour society cvrFree white paperThe optimal work schedule for any facility is one that balances operational requirements, employee preferences and lifestyle issues, and the human factors considerations that influence safety and employee performance.

Finding the ideal schedule for a particular facility—one that will minimize the costs, risks, and liabilities of the 24/7 operation—requires careful attention to the process of shift schedule design. In other words, who chooses the shift schedule and how they choose it is vital to its success. Read this white paper and learn about the key factors that impact the success of shift schedule. The optimal work schedule for any facility is one that balances operational requirements, employee preferences and lifestyle issues, and the human factors considerations that influence safety and employee performance.

What's the best shift schedule?

There are hundreds of different shift schedules in use today. But contrary to popular belief there is no one "golden schedule" that surpasses all others.

As it turns out, the best schedule varies from one location to the next. It is the schedule that works best for your specific operation - by balancing operational requirements, safety, and employee preferences.

How do you determine the best shift schedule for your operation?

You can only achieve the best shift schedule through a logical, systematic process that addresses your business needs and involves management, employees, and labor representatives (when applicable) in a positive and participatory selection process.

How CIRCADIAN® can help you

CIRCADIAN® has extensive experience in avoiding the pitfalls and achieving win-win shift schedule solutions even in challenging or contentious environments.

Our proven Shift Schedule Optimization Process helps you develop a plan that works for your business and your employees. We provide you with:

  • Creative shift schedule options that address your business needs, worker preferences, health, and safety requirements.
  • Neutral party assistance to work through obstacles to shift schedule implementation.
  • Consensus-building for a shift schedule based on management and employee input.
  • Cost neutrality for company and employees.
  • Reduced shift schedule-related fatigue caused by physiologically incompatible work schedules.

CIRCADIAN® can help you develop and implement a shift work schedule that leaves your employees with a better work and home life balance, better adaptation to night shift transitions, and reduced fatigue. This in turn, will allow you to:

  • Increase production quality.
  • Reduce absenteeism, fatigue, and employee turnover.
  • Operate more efficiently.
  • Achieve higher morale.
  • Improve health, safety, and alertness.

CIRCADIAN® provides specialized assistance to plan and facilitate 5- to 7-day plant expansions (or any initiatives where the working hours will change). These support services will help you realize the full benefits of the change and achieve the desired return-on-investment.

If this is your situation:

  • You are investigating the cost benefits of expanding your hours of operation versus capital expense of more equipment/machinery.
  • You have already determined that you need to expand work hours to 24/7.
  • You are analyzing your staffing levels to determine whether you have the resources to cover 24/7.
  • You want to reduce forced overtime by implementing a 24/7 schedule.
  • You are consolidating production lines from one or more plants to maximize efficiency and reduce unit cost.
  • You are rebalancing labor requirements to better align with workload demands.

This is how CIRCADIAN® can help you:

We provide technical and facilitation support to management, unions, employees, and internal task teams on how to thoughtfully plan, develop and implement the new work schedules through a human involvement process, including:

Operational Analysis and Planning

CIRCADIAN® consultants review your operating policies, practices, and procedures, as well as labor contracts/employee agreements, to understand your business needs and to identify opportunities and problem areas. This includes assistance with:

  • Assessment, planning and strategy development.
  • Where to employ 7-day operations in your facility.
  • Determining the business justification.
  • Determining the employee justification.
  • How to present the change and involve the employees in the change process.
  • Resolving the numerous implementation issues.

We guide you through this planning process, challenge assumptions, and provide you with the benefits of our extensive experience. Why reinvent the wheel and expose the operation to avoidable mistakes, unnecessary costs, and potential alienation of the workforce? After 25 years of facilitating these complex changes, we work with you closely to ensure the smoothest possible transition and achieve the optimal 7-day schedule.

Education and Consensus Building

Politically or arbitrarily derived shift schedules are problematic: they adversely affect morale, employee relations, absenteeism, turnover, and plant performance. CIRCADIAN® can help you to avoid these problems by achieving consensus between managers, supervisors, union officials and shift workers as to:

  • The business needs for the change.
  • A proven method for determining the best alternative schedule.
  • Involvement of the employees in the selection process.

The best way to accomplish this is to provide scheduling education so that all parties have the same facts. CIRCADIAN® provides seminars, training workshops, and diagnostic instruments for just this purpose, so that your people can make informed decisions rather than emotional or irrational ones.

Developing and Implementing the Optimal 7-Day Work Schedule

CIRCADIAN® serves as a neutral, third-party expert to facilitate a proven process that will yield the optimal work schedule every time. It turns out that the best shift schedules are site-specific phenomena, as each workforce has a unique demographic composition and local culture. As a technical specialist, CIRCADIAN® brings the expertise to help both labor and management sort through these issues. Given that we have no vested interest in the outcome, CIRCADIAN® is well positioned to objectively facilitate such joint initiatives and help you achieve win-win resolutions.


Determining and maintaining optimal staffing and crewing levels is critical to efficiency. Overstaffing is obviously costly -- not just to payroll costs and benefits. It manifests in lackluster performance by under-used employees not fully occupied or engaged by continuous operation. Conversely, understaffing creates excessive overtime, difficulty with relief coverage and training requirements, and dramatic increases in safety risks from fatigue, absenteeism, and even burnout.

If this is your situation:

  • Regularly experience elevated levels of overtime.
  • Have fluctuating demands with widely changeable production requirements.
  • Have employees with lots of idle or down time.

This is how CIRCADIAN® can help you:

Having the proper number of personnel in each unit by skill set as determined over a full range of demand variables is critical to the integrity and efficiency of all entities having proportional staffing needs. Utilization of CIRCADIAN® Proportional Staffing technologies can help you to:

  • Minimize unnecessary overtime and reduce wasteful idle time.
  • Cut time lost trying to fill positions that result from unscheduled absences.
  • Schedule vacation and holiday time and minimize overtime.
  • Ensure covering the right number and type of skill positions.

In many industries such as Public Safety (Police, Fire, EMS), Call Centers and numerous types of production environments, calculating the optimal staffing is complicated by every changing demand that can vary by hour of day, day of week, week of month, season and by other parameters. 

By analyzing historical data and sales and marketing forecasts with CIRCADIAN® proprietary algorithms, we find and utilize trends that accurately predict future demand. The process starts by calculating the efficiency of the current schedule. Efficiency is defined as the percentage of time that the client has exactly the right amount of personnel by skill set to perform the required functions. Alternatively, inefficiency is defined as the percent of time that the client has either too many or too few personnel to handle the work load. 

Next, a 100% efficient schedule is developed. Inevitably, completely efficient schedules are not very “employee friendly.”  Therefore, the final step of the process entails meshing the completely efficient schedule with employee and management scheduling requirements regarding factors such as length of shift, time of shifts, on/off patterns, number of consecutive shifts to be worked, fixed or rotating shift preferences and the number of hours to be worked per week, month, year etc. The algorithm also provides for shift relief factors (by job classification and/or department) to accommodate vacations, holidays, and other scheduled absences.

In addition, we extrapolate projections for unscheduled absences and for emergency requirements from historical data; we factor these into the proportional staffing level calculations. Periodic reanalysis by adding  recent historical demand and new sales and marking forecasts keeps the information fresh and dependable and provides the ability to revise schedules as necessary to maintain your efficiency requirements.

By incorporating employee preferences with historical trends and forecasts, we can substantially increase schedule efficiency while providing the types of schedules that employees want to work, thus creating a true win-win outcome.

There are inherent necessities and considerable business advantages to running your operation at times outside of just the day shift. However, there are also significant downsides and hidden costs that accompany these extended hour operations.

The hidden costs of shiftwork are the result of human physiology and social patterns that are disrupted when employees are asked to work nights, evenings, long, or irregular hours on a regular basis. These social and physiological disruptions are manifested as increased absenteeism, turnover, health care costs, accidents and injuries, and decreased quality and productivity.

Using a deep analysis of key performance indicators, CIRCADIAN® can:

  • Evaluate the extent of excess costs due to shiftwork in your operation (help you cut costs in your operation).
  • Identify solutions for reclaiming the excess costs.
  • Propose solutions to existing policies and procedures, union agreements and regulations to promote cost savings.
  • Determine the ROI for implementing countermeasures to reduce the costs.


CIRCADIAN® can also help you:

  • Determine the cost benefits of implementing a fatigue risk management system (FRMS) and help with design and implementation.
  • Assess the impact that certain policy changes or schedule changes may have on your operating budget.
  • Evaluate your current work schedule and benchmark it against your industry.

Fatigue Accident-Incident Investigation with FACTS™

Accident/Incedent Analysis with FACTS™

Fatigue Accident/Incident Causation Testing System (FACTS™)  is an expert web-based system which calculates the probability of whether a person was impaired by fatigue at the time of an accident or incident.

Fatigue does not discriminate and significantly affects every type of 24/7 operation. A mine haul truck operator loses attention; a control room operator fails to recognize a pending safety-critical event; a pilot forgets to trim the flaps on final approach. Incidents, injuries and costly errors happen daily due to fatigue.

Yet, because there is no biochemical test for fatigue, fatigue tends to be under-reported and overlooked in incident investigations and its true costs--in dollars and lives--are often unknown or ignored.

Have an accident or incident you want to test with FACTS?


FACTS helps every manager across your organization answer the following questions:

  • What is the probability that an individual was fatigued at the time of an incident/accident or operational deviation?
  • What was the source of excess fatigue risk (if any)? 
  • What percent of my company’s incidents/accidents/operational deviations are caused by a fatigue impaired employee? 
  • What is the cost of employee fatigue impairment at my company?

FACTS Results

Know the Cost of Fatigue

We know that fatigue is one of the most pervasive causes of human error-related accidents, incidents, and injuries –costing billions of dollars each year. Yet, when asked most companies don’t know how much fatigue-related accidents are costing them each year. 

FACTS will allow your company to objectively record and monitor the true cost of fatigue incidents throughout your global operations.


Objective and Scientifically Validated

FACTS (Fatigue Accident/Incident Causation Testing System) captures the expertise of leading experts in fatigue/sleep and circadian physiology and transportation and industry incident investigation to provide you an expert online system. It creates a standard for investigating all incidents and has been validated against expert human panels.

Next Steps:

 Contact Us About FACTS:

In our 24/7 culture, sleep is being challenged.

As the demands on the global workforce increasingly stretch the boundaries of employee work hours, there is a need to provide sleep education and training for ALL corporate employees, including those who traditionally were thought to work “normal” hours.

Employee sleep is a corporate leadership issue. Why? Because sleep directly impacts work performance.

Scientific research reveals that sleep deprivation directly impacts every cognitive and physiological function imperative for peak employee performance. Sleep impacts employee performance, productivity, absenteeism, turnover rates, profitability, safety, and health care costs.

Sleep deprivation is a risk management issue, requiring corporate management to take action.


How CIRCADIAN® can help you

CIRCADIAN® regards optimal sleep as an employee asset that can be leveraged to provide performance and health improvements that benefit both employers and employees.

CIRCADIAN®, a global leader in providing fatigue risk management solutions for the 24/7 workforce, provides expert strategies for addressing the complex challenges associated with obtaining optimal sleep and addressing daytime fatigue.

CIRCADIAN®’s Corporate Sleep Programs offer corporations customized and research-based solutions to address the issue of Sleep Wellness for all levels of a corporation or organization’s workforce regardless of the hours they work.

CIRCADIAN® Corporate Sleep Programs include:

Assessment of corporate goals and strategic needs
  • Determine client timetable, budget, and outcome goals
  • Customize program scope to serve management goals and workforce optimization
  • Design in-person, virtual and/or Train-the-Trainer programming
Keynote Presentations
  • Engage management and employees with compelling sleep research
  • Teach basic sleep science to facilitate a foundation for change
  • Provide sleep improvement strategies and solutions
Sleep Improvement Programming
  • Foster a team-centric approach.
  • Empower employees to optimize their sleep quality and quantity with a self-managed program including a Participant Manual and digital programming (4–5-week duration to support habit/behavioral change process).





Sleep Disorder Screening

Sleep Disorder Screening

Many sleep disorders are undiagnosed and untreated. One of the most common sleep disorders, especially among shiftworkers, is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is a sleep disorder in which there is an obstruction of the airway during sleep, causing a cessation in breathing, resulting in highly disrupted sleep and increased sleepiness and fatigue during waking hours. Employees with untreated sleep apnea are a greater risk and cost for your company because:

  • They are at least twice as likely to have a fatigue-related accident as the rest of the population
  • They incur health costs twice as high as other patients
  • They spend twice as much time in the hospital
  • They have twice the hypertension risk and triple the heart disease risk

By implementing a program that screens for and then treats sleep apnea, 24/7 operations can:

  • Reduce absenteeism associated with apnea-induced fatigue and medical conditions
  • Improve performance with a better-rested, healthier and more alert workforce
  • Cut medical costs
  • Reduce fatigue-related accidents on the job and while commuting

If this is your situation:

  • Have high absenteeism rates, and excessive health care costs
  • Suspect that a significant number of employees are sleepy on the job
  • Have a high rate of incidents and suspect that are human error or fatigue related
  • Need to implement a comprehensive fatigue risk management system, and to include sleep disorders screening in it

This is how CIRCADIAN can help you:

CIRCADIAN offers a proven, cost-effective way to screen for sleep apnea. We set up the entire screening and treatment program and manage the overall process. CIRCADIAN ensures accurate and consistent results.

CIRCADIAN program is confidential for employees. This encourages greater employee participation and higher treatment rates. For those identified at risk for sleep apnea, CIRCADIAN provides counseling and referral to certified sleep specialists for evaluation and treatment. Your company's medical plan generally covers screening and treatment.

Contact us for more information.