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Featured blog post banner of Rotating Shift - A Complete Guide

Rotating Shift – A Complete Guide

As a manager, an essential part of your job is to put the best schedule to allow workers to be more productive without overworking. But scheduling can get tricky when you move beyond the standard 9-to-5 work shift to accommodate increased demand.

As the demand for production is increasing, and you need to make complex schedules, many things must be considered. If you cannot correctly schedule shifts, workers might complain. Poorly designed shifts can cost physical and mental pain to the employees. Also, a few absences can fail the entire shift without proper planning.

HR managers need to learn about rotating shifts and how to prepare one effectively. In this article, we are about to discuss how to create a rotating shift schedule depending on the company’s nature of work. We will focus on tips on how you can create a rotational scheduling system that protects workers’ health and productivity and benefits your organization in the long run.

What are Rotating Shifts?

Rotating shifts are simply schedules that regularly change over time. The most common example of rotating shifts is how workers work in the manufacturing industry in the country. Most production workers have rotating shifts in which they work six days a week between night and day shifts. In other sectors, such as construction and mining, workers work eight-hour shifts that rotate from 6 AM to 2 PM, 2 PM to 10 PM, and 10 PM to 6 AM. The workers switch between the shifts weekly, so they are not overworked, and the production continues without a break.

Rotating shifts is supposed to help workers have a better work-life balance, but more often, it isolates them. An employee rotation schedule requires workers to reconfigure family responsibilities and reset sleep schedules, making it difficult to have a social life and connect with friends. This can lead to isolation and a lack of human connection.

HR managers must be careful while creating rotating shift schedules as researchers suggest that poorly planned rotating shifts can cause severe mental and physical health risks such as weight gain, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Given the magnitude of the dangers involved for workers working in a rotating shift, managers must do everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of the employees.

It is interesting to note that even with such risk associated with rotating shifts, a large workforce works in such schedules. According to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 2.4% of the working population works rotating shifts.

Let’s examine rotating shifts’ ins and outs to understand why companies make employee rotation schedules.

Why is a rotating shift required?

For many businesses, it is vital to maintain 24-hour operations to deliver customer service. Industries such as transportation, manufacturing, hospitality, customer service, construction, etc., usually require staffing outside the traditional 9-to-5 schedule. These organizations rely on rotating shifts to meet their staffing demands.

Rotating shifts are also required when employees need to be trained about different facets of the business. For instance, in manufacturing industries, employees might need to be prepared to work on the floor, do maintenance work, and if the situation requires operating CNC machines. Making them work through rotating shifts trains them in all these domains.

How do rotating shifts work?

A rotating schedule does imply changed shifts, but it is done cyclically. Your company can schedule a morning shift, an afternoon shift, an evening shift, and an overnight shift. You can create an employee rotation schedule to allow workers to work each shift over time so you can maintain business operations 24/7.

A rotating schedule means that workers will work in a particular shift over a set amount of time. It depends on the business nature and preference of how workers are rotated through the shifts. Managers can decide how to make a rotating schedule – whether they want to put employees on a rotating schedule in which they work the same shift on different days (rotation of days), or they want employees to work in various shifts (rotation of time).

Here it would be best if you remembered that the more cyclical the rotating shift would be, the easier it will be for employees to balance their work and personal life.

4 Different types of rotating shifts

Over the years, human resource professionals have created several types of rotating schedules. Depending on the management practice, your company can benefit from one or more types of rotating shifts. It’s a good idea for HR managers to familiarize themselves with several types of rotating shifts. This gives them a view to understand various styles of employee rotation schedules and choose one that best works for their organization.

1. The Pitman Shift Schedule

In the Pitman shift schedule, the employees get every other weekend off to have time to participate in some family and social events during regular hours. Here the ships are 12 hours long and have four teams working in rotation. To avoid overworking the employees, the workers usually work no more than three days in a row. Here is an example of the Pitman shift schedule pattern:

  • Two shifts on, followed by two days off
  • Two shifts on, followed by three days off
  • Three shifts on, followed by two days off

When the two-week cycle is complete, workers switch timing; that is, the workers start working night shifts and vice versa.

2. The DuPont Shift Schedule

Like the Pitman rotating shift, the DuPont shift schedule also involves four teams working 12-hour shifts, but the employee rotation schedule is a bit more complex. In DuPont, this shift rotates from day to night in a four-week cycle. Here’s an example:

  • Four-night shifts, then three days off
  • Three-day shifts, then one day off
  • Three-night shifts, then three days off
  • Four-day shifts, then seven days off

Here you will notice that there are consecutive offs because the scheduling might be a bit hectic, but the DuPont system allows workers enough time to recharge by offering multiple days off. At the end of the cycle, these off culminate into a week-long break.

Managers should be careful with the DuPont shift schedule. Here workers get more flexibility in their daily lives and spend more time with family and friends, but the trade-off is more demanding hours at work. It might suit some nation workers who don’t mind working extra hard instead of more time off.

3. The 2-2-3-2-2-3 shift schedule

The 2-2-3-2-2-3 schedule is a rotating shift that follows a 28-day cycle. In this schedule, 12-hour shifts are rotated in the following pattern:

  • Three-day shifts
  • Two days off
  • Two-day shifts
  • Three days off
  • Two-night shifts
  • Two days off
  • Three-night shifts
  • Two days off
  • Two-night shifts
  • Three days off
  • Two-day shifts
  • Two days off

The benefit of this rotating schedule is that worker gets frequent time off without having to work more than three consecutive days. Examples of the rotating shift schedule of this style can be found in the construction and healthcare industry, where employees have demanding 12-hour shifts followed by multiple days off.

4. Southern swing schedule

The Southern swing rotation shift is a schedule that uses three eight-hour shifts throughout the month for four teams. Here is how this employee rotation schedule works:

  • Seven-day shifts
  • Two days off
  • Seven-day shifts
  • Two days off
  • Seven-night shifts
  • Three days off

One of the most significant benefits of the Southern swing schedule is that workers have to work eight-hour and 10- or 12-hour shifts like other rotating shift schedule examples.

Rotating shift schedule examples

Managers are only limited by their imagination to configure rotating shifts. There can be hundreds of ways to manage employee rotation schedules. You can choose to schedule it from day to day, week to week, or month to month. However, the most common practice is to create a rotating shift schedule as eight-hour work shifts, 9 or 10-hour work shifts, and 12-hour work shifts.

An eight-hour employee rotation schedule is the best for companies within staffing to create three teams that can work in rotating shifts. It allows companies to keep productivity high without compromising the health or ability of the workers.

Managers can schedule eight-hour shifts in the following ways:  

  • Morning: 6 AM to 2 PM
  • Evening: 2 PM to 10 PM
  • Night: 10 PM to 6 AM

 

  • Morning: 7 AM to 3 PM
  • Evening: 3 PM to 11 PM
  • Night: 11 PM to 7 AM

 

  • Morning: 8 AM to 4 PM
  • Evening: 4 PM to 12 AM
  • Night: 12 AM to 8 AM

For industries where workers must be on the floor for longer hours, 9- and 10-hour rotating shifts are good. Here there is an overlapping between two teams of workers so that the relieving team can hand over work to the reporting team in time. Here are some examples of 9 and 10-hour work shifts.   

  • Morning: 5 AM to 2 PM
  • Afternoon: 12 PM to 9 PM
  • Night: 7 PM to 5 AM

 

  • Morning: 5 AM to 3 PM
  • Afternoon: 1 PM to 11 PM
  • Night: 10 PM to 8 AM

The simplest to manage and schedule is the 12-hour rotation shift.

You can schedule it as a day or night shift only. For example:

  • Day: 6 AM to 6 PM
  • Night: 6 PM to 6 AM

Which industries use rotating shifts?

Companies that require 24/7 staffing use rotating shifts to ensure that the business operations are running smoothly at all hours without overworking the workforce. Some of the common industries that implement rotating shifts are:

Manufacturing: Often, the manufacturing industries require workers such as assemblers and production managers to work shifts to increase output.

Healthcare: Doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and hospital administrators are required to work in rotating shifts to ensure that medical care is available for patients around the clock.

Transportation: Logistics companies require employees to work in shifts to make their services available to the customers at all hours.

Retail employees: Sales and marketing staff at retail stores and 24/7 convenience stores often work on rotating shifts.

Hospitality: Hotels and resorts operate 24/7, and to offer undisruptive services and accommodate guests, hospitality employees follow rotating shift schedules.

Advantages of rotating shifts

Rotating shifts can benefit both companies and workers, provided managers know how to create rotating shift schedules that can positively boost productivity. There are several benefits of rotating shift schedule, including:

  • Increased output productivity
  • Unbiased and consistent sharing of unpopular shifts
  • Efficient sharing of skill sets among various shifts
  • Better interaction and relationship between employees working in different shifts
  • Increased customer service and convenience
  • Skill development of the employees as they perform additional tasks in extra shifts
  • Increased business operations knowledge
  • More variety in tasks keeps the workforce engaged
  • Better work-life balance

Disadvantages of rotating shifts

  • Some workers prefer consistent fixed work schedules and plan their life around them. Putting such workers in rotating shifts disturb their lives.
  • Keeping track of the rotating shifts and scheduling other tasks of the day needs regular attention.
  • There are mental and physical impacts of working late shifts or frequent shift changes on workers’ health.
  • Forced circadian rhythm changes due to night shifts can cause sleep deprivation and gastrointestinal and cardiovascular disorders.

How to handle rotating shifts effectively?

Rotating shifts are not a challenge for the workforce but managers as well. There are so many factors to consider.

Most HR managers recommend that rather than the evening to day rotating shift schedule, turning shifts from day to evening to overnight is better. After a plan for the employee rotation schedule is made, it is essential to provide training to prepare workers for the rotating shift, such as going to bed early, taking power naps, frequent 5-minutes breaks, etc.

Ask employees for their shift preferences and try to accommodate these requests whenever possible.

Use scheduling software

It is challenging to keep track of rotating shift schedules as the changes are frequent, and you must keep track of all the employees. Therefore, it is required to use a scheduling software such as Truein that can help with shift management.

Truein is a complete time and attendance system with shift management that makes it incredibly easy to maintain rotating shifts. It comes with advanced features such as multiple shift management, automatically notifying employees about changes in their shift, easy access to schedules from smartphones, an easy process to switch shifts, and monitoring employee hours.

Conclusion

For some companies rotating shifts is a necessary evil. Good managers can help eliminate employee shift rotation’s physical and mental side effects by adequately planning and scheduling shifts using software like Truein.

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