If we examine two aspects of shift, the productivity affected by day of the week and the risk association with shift work then we can get a picture of what the optimum looks like.
The performance efficiency can be measured across the day, showing the relative impact on performance at differing times of the 24 hour day.
The working week has changed from the ordinary Monday through Friday, with a large number of businesses now operating across 6 or even 7 days per week. This has meant that productivity levels have changed and the natural curve of productivity has changed. Reacting to changes in your workload is key, but there are ways to also improve the distribution of workload, incentives on quiet days to customers or changing key deliverable dates to Thursday or Wednesday may improve this.
Absence continues to be highest on a Monday and Friday, providing employees with a longer weekend, although this has shifted slightly since the change away from the traditional working week.
Although productivity is the key factor to business, we must also look at the risk association. A typical night shift would carry 20% more health and safety risk than the equivalent daytime shift, this may seem like a reasonable risk if the workload completed in the night is giving you a greater return, but it may mean you require to add additional safety checks into any night time processes. A health and safety accident can bankrupt a business so should not be ignored.
On the theme of risk, we can also see a direct correlation of the increased level of risk linked to the amount of time someone has been working. Beyond the 9 hour on shift mark we would see a 25% jump in the relative risk, this increased risk can be mitigated:
- Split shift into two blocks giving larger time away for rest and recouperation
- Stagger start times and finish times to give coverage
- Have increased Part time workers to ensure shifts can be shortened and staff present at peak times.
Part Time Working
It is often the case that part time working is seen as bad, the productivity levels and expertise is such that part time working is inefficient. By the time an employee does the review process, learning, meetings and huddles, catching up with communications and the natural idle time (around 10 minutes per hour) it is seen their window of opportunity to be productive is so short it makes it ineconomical to employ them.
Part time working needs to be assessed on the relative strengths of the employee, the complexity of the role and also the workload demand. if the workload demand increases in short periods (for instance two hour peak during the day) the part timers can be used effectively to mitigate this, full time working in a traditional 9 to 5 operation will not provide you with the flexibility you require, on the other hand an 8 to 6 six day week operation allows you to flex your full time working patterns to accomodate workload fluctuations.
Part time workers tend to have a greater desire to remain at the current level, often this can mean you have a constant well trained bedrock of staff that have a good length of service, something to be considered should you suffer a high turnover in employees.