When it comes to round-the-clock shifts, 2020 has completely changed things for many workplaces. From healthcare teams on the frontline of COVID to supermarket workers restocking in the wake of panic-buying customers, more and more businesses need employees at work 24/7. As we adapt to business as unusual, what’s the best way to make it work? 

Here are a few key tips to schedule your staff efficiently and effectively so the job gets done, your wage budget stays under control, and your employees get the flexibility they need.

Consider How Many Days On/Off Each Employee Has

As you create your shift schedule, think about how many days on and off each employee has. Try your best to space out the schedule so that no one employee has too many consecutive days on without a break. This ensures your employees will be fresh and ready to go on the days when they are scheduled to come in to work. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that the number of hours a person can work each week is regulated by law. This is especially relevant if your workers are under the age of 18. Do your research on how many hours your employees can work per week.

When you’re ready to create a schedule, you may want to use a specific type of shift schedule to help. There are several different models that businesses use to create shifts, including the Pitman shift schedule, the Panama Plus shift schedule, and more. Depending on your needs, you might choose to utilize one of these strategies to make scheduling simple. 

The Pitman schedule uses four teams and two 12-hour shifts. During a two-week cycle, each team works two consecutive shifts and has two days off duty; works three consecutive shifts, and has two days off duty; and works two consecutive shifts with three days off duty. 

The Panama Plus schedule calls for five teams, two 12-hour shifts, and one eight-hour weekday shift. Each team works two weeks on an eight-hour weekday schedule for every eight weeks of work. These are just a couple of examples you can use as you figure out the best shift schedule for your business. 

Share the Shifts Around

Make a point to switch things up and give your employees different shifts. Nobody wants to open at 5 A.M., so don’t make the same person come in early day after day. Sharing around different shifts will help your employees stay motivated and on their toes. The variety will ensure nobody gets bored and your employees’ performance will stay top-notch — new shifts will bring new challenges and chances to rise to the occasion. 

It’s also a smart idea to let your employees swap shifts on their own. Use a tool such as Planday to give your workers the ability to trade shifts with each other so they can have some measure of control over their schedule. If you put an employee down for a shift when they aren’t able to work, they can find another staff member to trade with. By using Planday for employee scheduling, you’ll have access to view any changes in the shift schedule.

Understand Increased Wages for Unusual Hours

If an employee works “unsocial hours” (unusual hours), you will likely need to pay them increased wages. Unusual hours include graveyard shifts, weekend shifts, or overnight shifts. If your contract with employees includes unsocial hour payments, you are obligated to pay your workers extra for these unusual shifts. 

Even if you aren’t ordered by law to pay your employees extra, it’s still a good business practice to pay your employees more if they work unusual shifts. And during a crisis is the best time to do so. Paying your employees extra will motivate them to work harder. It can also make it easier for you to staff those difficult shifts, as your workers might jump at the chance to earn a higher rate. And when you invest in your employees and your company, that investment will eventually pay off. 

Figuring out your 12-hour shift schedule can seem like a challenging task. But it doesn’t have to be if you have the right knowledge in hand. Use these tips to help schedule your business, making sure you’re staffed 24/7 with happy employees. 

Planday Excel schedule template on iPad

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