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How to Incorporate a Rotating Shift Schedule for Your Business

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What is a Rotating Shift Schedule?

A rotating shift schedule is when scheduled shifts change over time like weekly or monthly. Shifts are usually 8 hours or 12 hours. 

Many times, a company may do this because they need workers to be available 24 hours a day. This allows employees to work all shifts. For example, an employee may be asked to work a day shift for one week and then the following week, they work a night shift with a break in between. 

Rotating shifts can be good so that everyone works different shifts. 


Why Do Companies Use Rotating Shift Schedules?

Some businesses have operations that require employees to work 24 hours a day. A rotating shift schedule can help a company with its staffing issues and ensure someone is always working.

There are a variety of industries that use rotating schedules such as manufacturing, healthcare, utility workers, hospitality, transportation, military, and retail establishments. 


What are the Benefits of Using a Rotating Shift Schedule?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 15.5% of people prefer a rotating shift schedule. It can be difficult for some, but it offers a variety of benefits such as:

  • Employees are treated equally when assigning shift hours so there are fewer complaints
  • Workers have more variety of work and learn different skills
  • Increased customer service all day and night
  • No loss of productivity between shifts
  • Workers can schedule personal appointments, manage personal commitments better, and have more variety in their schedule 
  • It makes the workforce more flexible. If someone is absent, any employee can pick up a shift 



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How Do You Make Rotating Shifts Easy for Your Employees?

Communication

If you are changing from a shift schedule to a rotating schedule, it is important to communicate with your employees. They should also share with you their concerns. Finding schedules that fit both your needs is helpful to prevent turnover. 

Once your employees know the benefits they can adjust better too. They may find they have more time for activities and personal commitments.


Provide Tips and Resources to Help Them Adjust to a New Schedule 

Provide training and tips to prepare employees for rotating shifts. For example, how can they prepare best for a new schedule? 

According to the Sleep Foundation, here are some good tips:

  • Consider start times. Think about what time they start work. Will they be fatigued? Will they be able to find adequate transportation if they don’t have a car?
  • Watch new employees. They may have a hard time with the schedule at first. It is important to talk to them and see if you can help them adapt to the rotating shift. 
  • Maintain a well-lit environment. A bright environment can help employees adjust to irregular hours. 
  • Encourage breaks. If they do have to work long hours, encourage your employees to take breaks. Although there are no federal laws to require breaks, some states do require them. Regardless, you do want them to take brief rests during a long workday. Break times help employees become more productive. 
  • Provide wellness benefits to employees. These benefits help to promote healthier lifestyles. Exercise, a healthy diet, and other wellness activities could help them adjust to a rotating shift schedule. 


Use Scheduling Software

Using a scheduling software such as ezClocker’s schedule feature can help. It allows employees to view their schedules anywhere using their PC or mobile device. It also has features that will notify employees if a schedule has changed. This allows your employees to receive their schedules on their phone or computer as soon as you post them. 

ezClocker also has a GPS feature so you can verify that your employees clocked in and out at the worksite. They can clock in and out anywhere. This helps when your employees are working at different locations. 


What are Some Rotating Shift Examples?

There are many types of rotating shifts. There are some schedules where employees change from day to night and vice versa. Then there are some where employees may take turns having the weekends off. It is important to find out what best serves your company and your employee’s needs. 

There are all kinds of different schedules you can research. Here are some popular ones companies use:


The Southern Swing Schedule

The schedule divides 4 groups across 3 eight-hour shifts. Each group rotates this sequence every 28 days. 

7 Day Shifts

2 Days Off

7 Swing Shifts

2 Days Off

7 Night Shifts

3 Days Off

This may be better for your company if your workers prefer eight-hour shifts but some employees can get burned out with seven consecutive days with no break. 


The Dupont Schedule

This schedule divides 4 groups across two 12-hour shifts. Although the 12-hour shifts can be difficult for some workers, it allows them seven consecutive days off. Some weeks they also work over 40 hours. 

During a four-week cycle, each group works:

4 Night Shifts

3 Days Off

3 Day Shifts

1 Day Off

3 Night Shifts

3 Days Off

4 Day Shifts

7 Days Off


Pitman Shift Schedule

This schedule is made up of 4 teams and 2 twelve-hour shifts. It runs on a two-week cycle in which teams work for a total of 7 days and have 7 days off.  Half the teams work the day shifts and the other teams work the night shift. There is no changing between the day and the night shifts. 

2 Shifts On

2 Shifts Off

3 Shifts On

2 Shifts Off

2 Shifts On

3 Shifts Off

Each shift is either day or night and all shifts are 12 hours. This allows employees to get a 3-day weekend every other week and they never work more than 3 consecutive days. 


Other Types

You may want to incorporate simpler options. For example, you can have employees switch over several months or one weekend on and one weekend off. You may even want some employees to work a fixed shift while others rotate. This may be needed due to the skills required. Regardless, research best practices for your industry and what will work best for your business.  

Create teams, define your shifts, and play with rotating schedules to see how this would work with what you need. 


Changing Schedules

Because there is no federal mandate, some cities or states have made laws to better protect employees. Some areas require predictive scheduling, which is giving out employee schedules ahead of their required work shift and penalizes on-call scheduling. It also includes no schedule changes without advanced notice. 

Although there are many advantages to rotating shift schedules, ensure you understand them well and you are able to follow your local and state laws. Using a time tracking app like ezClocker makes scheduling easy. 

Some schedules are better than others and everyone acclimates differently. Once you know which schedules would fit your needs, schedule some time to talk to your employees. It is important to survey your current employees and find out what schedules they prefer as well. Monitor their hours and ensure they have adequate rest days. 

Once you implement your new scheduling system, watch out for people who are missing a lot of work. If this new system doesn’t work, you may need to consider making changes. If it works for the majority of your employees, then you may have to make employee changes. 


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Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis, co-owner of Travis and Adams Consulting Group, has over 20 years’ experience in human resources and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, leadership development, manufacturing safety programs, and writing business articles and blogs.

1 comment

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