Many require shift variety to keep operations running at full capacity. An established eight hour shift is easier for managers to schedule. It is also easier for employees. They know when they are expected to arrive at work and when they are able to leave.
It is easy for them to make family decisions such as picking children up from school or extracurricular activities. They can also schedule their own hobbies outside of a standard work schedule.
The challenge arises when you introduce shift work into an environment where employees have settled into the comfort of routine. Change is difficult under many circumstances. However, expecting employees to easily adjust to sporadic hours is unsettling at best.
Leaving traditional hours can be problematic for most employees. Not only are the conditions of their workplace changing, but their families are also experiencing disruption. Contention and turnover could soon follow.
Compensation Could Make Change More Palatable
Next to compensation, employees are concerned with how time-off choices will affect their lives. In addition to the aforementioned reasons that you may get some pushback, alternatives to changes in their shift work schedule is problematic when days off conflict.
Generally, employees prefer shifts with eight hour or 10 hour days. The importance of time-off gives employees a sense of control. Adequate time-off allows employees to continue their lives outside of work.
Four Types of Time-Off That’s Important to Employees
There are at least four types of time-off days that employees want with a change to their shift work schedule. Each one has its own set of appealing attributes:
- Total days
- Daily time
- Consecutive days
It is not surprising that weekends off is the most wanted among employees. While you may only have a few spots to accommodate this request, increasing the number of shifts with this option can improve employee morale.
Contributing factors for how this could help is to look at the length of shifts. You might be able to adjust hours so days off on the weekend works for employees while keeping the department adequately staffed.
One key to consider with weekend off requests is this offers predictability. Even employees who may not prefer weekends, but are required to occasionally have those days do not mind if they know in advance. Giving them advance notice so there are no last minute changes helps.
This way, your employees can make plans without worrying about an unexpected assignment. Additionally, they can ensure that their family is also prepared for the change in their days off.
Total Days Off
Many employees who have shift work favor schedules with more days off also have reasons to not want change. With a 12-hour shift, employees view their schedule as offering more days off, for example. Typically, this is more time than they would get from an 8-hour shift.
Another way to grant time away from work is with the daily time-off model. This is calculated as the number of hours employees have off on the days that they work. This is when employees are allowed to work fewer hours in the day.
Typically, this is good for employees with childcare concerns, work second jobs or attend classes. They have more free time during the day.
Consecutive Days Off
As the name implies, employees have back-to-back days off. This is different from weekends off because the days could be a Monday and Tuesday, or a Thursday and Friday.
Try to Offer the Best Work/Life Balance with Shift Work Schedule Changes
Employees place a high value on the days they have off. They are also equally concerned with having a shift work schedule that does not disrupt their family life.
You are doing your part by making sure employees’ happiness connects with the needs of the company. At the same time, you must also recognize worksite differences if you have more than one location.
What is important for one group does not necessarily carry the same weight in another. Perhaps showing employees the different scheduling options can help smooth the process. You want happy employees, but you also have to satisfy the business needs of the company.
Educate employees on their options and possibilities. Helping them make informed choices with alternate schedules can minimize the perception that their lives are being disrupted.
For instance, an employee who has always had weekends off may fail to see that three days off can give them more family time. Simply being familiar with employee preferences can help to creating a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Managers know why employees want certain schedules and can use that information to offer opportunities to maintaining their work/life balance.
Most employees care as much about their shift as they do the accuracy of their paychecks. Sifting through expectations and fears is not always easy, but it not entirely impossible.
Finding the best schedule that works for the company and keeps employees working could be the real challenge. Keeping this in mind can improve acceptance.