Read this article and find out which mistakes can occur in complex shift planning and how to avoid them:
Particularly in shift work, the ability to plan working hours and their reliability is absolutely essential. After all, if you expect your employees to work regularly beyond the normal daily rhythm, you should also make it possible for them to plan their private lives in return by scheduling them for longer periods of time.
What’s more, long-term and order-volume-oriented workforce scheduling ensures that production runs smoothly and that there is always sufficient staff at hand on the shop floors.
When shift cycles are too tight, your employees often have to work weekends or at night. From a health perspective, this is not productive over the long run. Shift work is generally a great strain on the body, as it involves frequent biorhythm adjustments. Recovery periods are vital.
A single weekend day will not suffice here; instead, make sure your employees have enough completely free weekends. If the production volume cannot be managed without weekend work, then the shift model should be designed in such a way that shifts are not repeated too often on weekends. This is especially relevant if you employ many senior staff in the production area. A study conducted by the Hans Böckler Foundation revealed that 56 percent of all shift workers suffer from the stress of frequent weekend work.
Our advice: Set up pools of stand-in staff that you can use on weekends or extra shifts as required! In these pools, you should train your own employees, people in marginal employment or temporary workers with the appropriate qualifications; for example, the knowledge required for a machine, so that they can stand in at any time without having to be trained. As opposed to contract workers, these employees always have the know-how they need, thereby eliminating training times and production downtime!
According to the Hans Böckler Foundation study, 43 percent of all shift workers stated that they frequently had to work overtime. If this is not compensated for by appropriate free time, dissatisfaction among the workforce increases. At the same time, this also impacts on employee health, as recovery periods become shorter and the risk of frequent illnesses – whether physical or mental – increases.
In many cases, companies run forward rotating shift cycles. An early shift cycle is followed by day shifts, then night shifts. This is the best model in principle, as such a rhythm best reflects the biological rhythm. The mistake of returning to early shifts too quickly after night shifts, however, should be avoided. The body needs to acclimatize beforehand.
In order to provide shift workers with optimal rest periods, non-working shift blocks of at least three to four days are necessary. Here, the Hans Böckler Foundation gives the following rule of thumb: For each night shift day there should be one rest day. The legally prescribed rest period of at least eleven hours must also be adhered to at all times.
One figure from this study is alarming: 81 percent of respondents stated that it was never or rarely possible to swap shifts. Yet in times of an aging workforce, allowing more flexibility in the organization of working time is increasingly important. Preferred duty planning and shift exchange platforms via self services for example, offer employees the self-determination they desire today in the workplace and contribute to greater satisfaction. If companies demand employee flexibility, they need working time models that reconcile operational requirements and the needs of employees.
Few industries are as dependent on efficient skills management as manufacturing. Certification guidelines and associated audits, as well as flexibility in shift planning, necessitate monitoring employee and job-related qualifications and proactively providing further training of the workforce.
Manual monitoring mechanisms make it difficult to keep track of such matters.
Our advice: Shift planning and qualifications management should always go hand in hand. This guarantees legal conformity, compliance with certification requirements and audit security in the event of damage. It is ideal when employees currently in further training are also visible in the system. In this way, both absences and qualifications can be equally taken into account when planning.