Supporting Your Shift Workers

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Your employees are the driving force behind your business moving forward and thriving. It is everything that they do which makes a difference to the quality of your products, the satisfaction of your clients or customers, and more. 

Having said that, shift work poses a new type of challenge for managers. It’s the company’s task to make sure that shifts are planned so well that your teams can remain homogenousm, despite the varying work schedules and locations involved. 

Diversity and inclusion should be reflected across each shift that is available, and the schedule itself needs to make sure that workers have a good balance of times of day and night that they work across, rather than a handful of staff etrnally picking up the worst shifts in the middle of the night. 

In case you are responsible for organising a new shifts rota in your own establishment, here are a few ways to create a better shift work environment for all of your employees. 

Staffing levels and needs

Over time, it quickly becomes apparent within an organisation as to who can and cannot work certain shifts and why. In making up the schedule, you need to consider and make room for those who have cultural or religious reasons for not working at specific times in the week. 

You should also find out when your team wishes to be scheduled. One option is to allow employees to pick their usual shifts or apply for open ones via scheduling software. Depending on their circumstances, your employees may want to work early in the morning, late at night, on weekdays, or on weekends. 

Employees may be unavailable due to personal obligations outside of work, like family illness, childcare, or other circumstances. Keep in mind the needs of your staff, and make a point of educating yourself on their needs. 

There will likely be some push-back from other staff over why some people never need to do certain shifts. So be sure that you are educated on the reasons for the needs so that you can relay them clearly to others if required. 

Sharing the schedule

Ensure that you share your schedule early enough so that if any of your staff needs to make changes, they can make you aware of them and can make the alterations. 

If you notice that some people are switching their shifts regularly so that they can work together with each other, this can also be an indicator you need to pay closer attention to the rota. Keeping each of your shifts well balanced is important. 

Despite the fact that conditions change all the time, it’s best to post your schedule ahead of time so that everyone is informed, even if things alter later.

An app-based system can be beneficial for many. However, for this, all staff will need access to the same technology and internet. If this is not the case, here are some suggestions: 

  • Provide the correct devices to your staff to enable them to access their work rota
  • Ensure that those who may not have the internet at home have access in work time 
  • Keep open lines of communication, so you are aware of any issues
  • Have a paper-based schedule available in the shared staff areas

Creating the perfect staff schedule from a managerial point of view means you need to be aware of the individual situations of all your staff. But it is just as important that all of your staff have access to the right training. 

Diversity and inclusion training is beneficial for every member of your team, and that includes all members of staff that work on zero-hour contracts, part-time, full-time, shift work – as well as those in leadership positions. 

It is also worth offering continuous training and support for all your employees throughout their time at your company. This could mean technical skills training, shadowing those in leadership roles, management training, allowing them to attend industry conferences and offering extra internal training. 

Offering training to your team will mean that they are well-trained in their work and can perform to a higher standard. 

While many companies don’t see the benefit in training staff, you will foster a sense of loyalty and support them in their future career goals – hopefully at your company. 

Improving staff morale and wellbeing

Much of the heavy lifting when it comes to shiftworkers’ health and wellbeing come from management planning shifts that make sense to each of the individuals. However,  poor shift planning, an inability to understand employees’ personal circumstances, and no understanding of them outside of work will lead to the ill health of your staff. 

Shift employment is becoming more popular as we get closer to a 24/7, on-demand world that needs more flexibility than the typical 9 am-5pm, Monday-Friday workweek. However, shift patterns can often cause your workers to feel unwell mentally exhausted, leading to work-life balance issues, and causing issues within the team itself. 

Key areas that you need to be mindful of when it comes to shift work in particular are:


Employees working excessive hours to cover demand or due to inefficient shift rotations are the most common causes of the problem. 

This can result in a high level of overtime being maintained, shifts running substantially longer than expected (fatigue is a key worry after a 12-hour shift), or a lack of enough rest time in between shifts.

Gaining an understanding the background of your staff will hopefully help you to build a rota that meets their financial and home-life needs without causing them fatigue. 

Health issues

Shift work is one of the highest pressure environments, even if the job itself seems relatively easy. 

Many studies also indicate health difficulties among shift workers due to their frequent night shifts, poor diet, interrupted sleep habits, and the emotional and physical toll of specific roles or duties.

Work-life balance

A work-life balance is something we often talk about, and it is one of the central pillars of good wellbeing. 

Creating contemporary, appealing divisions of labour with fair practices relating to pattern distribution, call-in/stand-down notice, allocating overtime, managing holidays, and facilitating shift exchanges or self-rostering is critical to addressing a blended workforce’s different work-life balance demands.

So when it comes to your shift workers, leaders and all your staff members need to be supportive or each other and well-supported in their work. By ensuring this, this will enable you to ensure that your workforce will thrive and feel valued in their work, no matter the time of day or night that they happen to be on duty.

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