Shift Work Employees: Tips for Small Business Owners

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship Startup Advice / July 9, 2021
Shifts often extend beyond the traditional 9-to-5 schedule, and common mistakes can impact the well-being of your employees in the long run.

Shift work is prevalent in many industries, including healthcare, security, transportation, manufacturing, and hospitality. Today, 3,2% of the U.S. workforce works in shifts. Shift work for business owners is essential to keep their operations running 24/7.

As shift work exceeds the traditional 9 to 5 schedule, it can impact the wellbeing of your employees in the long run. Ultimately, the well-being of your employees is vital for the long-term success of your business and your reputation as a business owner.

In the following sections, we’ll break down a few essential things to implement and avoid when dealing with the necessity of shift work for your business.

Do: Establish (and Enforce) Breaks

Taking regular breaks can boost the productivity and motivation of your shift workers. Almost 90% of U.S. workers feel refreshed and ready to continue their shift after a short break.

Regular breaks allow your employees to release stress and focus better on their tasks. You should make sure your workplace has a designated break room for your employees to step away from work and relax for a bit.

When you consider implementing required breaks for your employees, be sure to discuss the benefits with them.

Here are a few healthy break ideas:

  • Walking: For those who are able, a short walk encourages physical activity and takes the mind off work for a while.
  • Healthy Snacks: Making some available can encourage healthy diet habits for your employees even when they are not at work.
  • On-Site Gym/Recreation Area: Encouraging on-site activity keeps your employees in shape and helps build their physical and mental resilience.
  • Scheduled Social Interaction or Quiet Time: Most employees benefit from interaction with their family, friends, and coworkers. Additionally, make sure you provide time and space to rest in solitude.
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Don’t: Make Sudden Shift Changes

Your employees appreciate it when you let them know about their shifts in advance. Shift work statistics from 2021 demonstrate that advanced notice of work schedules is a top priority for 65% of shift workers.

After all, work-life balance is important for shift workers. Notifying them of changes in their shifts well in advance will help them plan out their lives better. Most shift workers have difficulties with sleep patterns already, so don’t add fuel to the fire with unpredictable shift changes.

Whenever you make a sudden shift change, you make it harder for your employees to plan their life activities and negatively impact their physical and mental health.

Do: Optimize Shift Scheduling

Approximately 25 million Americans work rotating or irregular work schedules. That’s a huge number.

One of the essentials of shift work for business owners is to be proactive and flexible with shift scheduling. As businesses need to adapt to new circumstances more than ever, make sure to create schedules at least two weeks in advance. That allows your employees to provide timely feedback.

You can also create a flexible schedule that adapts to your employees. That allows your employees even to swap shifts, which can help boost team spirit.

Another important detail is to make it simple for your employees to access their schedules. Paper is outdated in today’s digital era. You can improve schedule assignment in the following ways:

  • Use a scheduling app to provide 24/7 access to schedules and display changes in real-time. The use of an app can save you tons of time you would otherwise spend creating paper schedules. Some businesses lose up to 12 hours building weekly schedules.
  • Utilize email or SMS communication. Most of your employees probably have a smartphone, which means they are connected all the time. Keep them updated with timely emails or SMS messages so they can avoid unpleasant surprises.
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Do: Interact With Your Employees

It’s essential to communicate with your employees to work out their ideal shift schedule. There are numerous ways to promote employee confidence that will make the overall team spirit of your workplace that much better.

Be transparent with your shift workers. Inform them what they are doing well and where they can improve. Strive to not be overly critical. Make sure you emphasize their achievements to increase their motivation.

Listen to the ideas of your employees, even if you’ve already considered and dismissed the idea. Dismissive attitudes harm employee confidence. Invest in people by listening patiently. Also, you never know…fresh opinions you might otherwise ignore just might help your business grow.

Ultimately, transparent communication with your employees provides a healthy workplace and further incentivizes your employees to perform well and consistently.

Don’t: Ignore the Overall Well-Being Of Your Employees

Shift work disorder is definitely a thing. It’s characterized by insomnia, sleepiness, and mood disturbances. This disorder can have serious long-term effects such as depression, poor diet, and cardiovascular diseases.

One of the biggest culprits that leads to shift work disorder is consecutive night shifts. Be sure to limit scheduling them so your employees have a few free days to recharge from night shift work.

Additionally, encourage feedback from your employees and adapt shifts to their needs to keep them healthy and stress-free. Some want to spend quality time with their family and friends, but irregular shift work makes it impossible to do so.

Finally, you should make your workplace safer for your employees to encourage peace of mind.

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Shift Work Scheduling Is Getting Easier For Business Owners

It’s important to note that predictive scheduling laws are becoming more prevalent in numerous U.S. states. These laws encourage businesses to improve scheduling transparency with employees, ultimately resulting in a healthier lifestyle for shift workers.

Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done, but if you follow the tips listed above, your business might be a catalyst for positive change in circumstances for shift workers.

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About The Author

Derek Jones

Derek spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets, and communication. With a focus on the workforce, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor costs in line and build award-winning workplaces. Derek has over 16 years of experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.


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