Shift work can be unpredictable and challenging. Sometimes you need to change the schedule at the last minute. This is fairly standard in shift work. Still, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to ensure that both you and your employees stay happy. Here’s what you need to know before making changes to your workers’ hours.

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Try to Reach an Agreement With Both Parties

Communication is everything. 57% of employees say that they aren’t given clear directions, and 69% of managers aren’t comfortable communicating with their employees in any context. Make sure your company doesn’t fall into these statistics by going out of your way to foster clear communication between you and your employees in every situation — including when you need to change your workers’ shifts.

Instead of simply changing your employees’ schedules without asking what works for them, approach your workers and attempt to reach a compromise that works for you both. Realistically, you might not be able to do this in every situation. But try your best to keep the lines of communication open. Don’t just tell your employees that you’ve made a change without consulting them. Work with your employees and ask what’s best for them, listening to what they have to say even if you ultimately aren’t able to accommodate their request.  

Make Sure the Employee Is Available for the New Shift

Before scheduling your employee for a different shift, reach out to them and make sure they’re available at that time. Your employees have other things going on in their lives. They might be working another job, caring for a child or family member, or taking classes. Show that you respect their personal lives by reaching out to ask if they’re available for a new shift. 

Similarly, if you change the schedule so an employee no longer needs to come to work, make a point to let them know. They may not check their work rota again after copying their shifts to their personal calendar. Make sure to notify them if they don’t need to come in. With tools like Planday, scheduling changes are made easy. 

Give As Much Notice As You Can

When their hours change, give your employees as much advance notice as you possibly can. Remember, your employees have lives outside of work. Letting them know about changes in advance is simply a way of being respectful. It benefits you too: Your employees will have ample time to change around their schedule so they’re able to make it to work.

This holds especially true if the change in hours is likely to be repeated. Your employees will appreciate consistently receiving advance notice. It will make them feel valued and respected. And the strong employee-employer relationship that develops will help your business succeed. 

Consider Whether This Will Impact the Employee’s Contract

In many cases, your employee’s contract states how many hours or shifts they will work in a given time period. If the shift changes you make contradict the contract, that’s something to be mindful of. Contradictory shift changes are okay if you speak with the employee and get their permission to schedule them for a different number of hours. 

You can also put a flexibility clause in each employee’s contract. This clause allows you as the employer to make reasonable changes to the employee’s job.

Monitor the Changes in Overall Cost

When you change your workers’ hours, there are going to be financial ramifications. The overall cost of scheduling and labour will change. If your employees work overtime, you’ll have to pay them overtime pay. And while this might seem like a small change, it will affect your overall budget and cost.

A recent EU ruling applies here, too. All companies in the European Union will soon have to track their employees’ working hours. Only tracking overtime is no longer enough — now companies need to track all of their workers’ hours to make sure workers receive sufficient rest breaks. Keep this ruling in mind as you think about hours and cost. 

Once you’ve considered your employees’ contracts and spoken with them about which shifts they’d like to work, you’re ready to change their hours.

Simplify your scheduling by using Planday. We make it easy and painless to change workers’ hours. Your employees will instantly be notified when you publish or change the schedule. See how easy it is to edit your shift calendar today!

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