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A Definition of Shift Management

Any company or organization that runs two or three work shifts per day handles shift management. Setting the shift schedule is one of the very first tasks businesses undertake when they begin operating. But shift management must be ongoing once a business is up and running. Shift management involves giving each worker a clear idea of his responsibilities, including his time schedule for reporting to work each week.

Determining Shifts and Other Shift Factors

The block of time during which workers report to work and perform their duties is a shift. Owners and managers often work together to determine the shift times and the frequency of shift changes. You may begin to determine shift times by considering the days and hours that you will be open for business and then set the total number of hours for your workers on a weekly basis. Part-time shifts typically are four hours, and full-time shifts may vary from about eight to twelve hours, depending on the number of shifts you set for your company and the number of hours you plan to be in operation daily and weekly.

Some companies survey workers or ask for their available work times on their employee applications, in an effort to match workers to the shifts that best suit their schedules and personal needs. As your business grows, you will need to determine how many employees need to be on shift throughout the week. Once you have determined the shift schedule for your organization, it is helpful to require workers to clock in and out or use some form of a time system in order to get paid.

Challenges of Shift Management and 24/7 Operations

It can be especially challenging to manage shifts if your organization operates around the clock. You will need to determine when one workday ends and the next begins. You also may need to consider how to calculate overtime if a shift spans two days, and what the pay rate will be if an employee works a shift that spans a paid holiday. These issues are all the more challenging if you have a time and attendance system that operates on a standard 9am – 5pm schedule. There are three areas of shift management that you need to keep in mind when setting your shifts and exploring shift management solutions that will fit your business needs:

  • Pay periods and shifts – Typically, pay periods in a standard schedule begin on Sunday and end on Saturday. In this type of a shift schedule, shifts also normally are contained within one workday, and do not overlap from one day to the next. With a 24/7 schedule, however, shifts easily overlap pay periods and days. This becomes challenging if workers in one shift make a rate that is different from workers in another shift.
  • Overtime pay – In a standard shift schedule, workers collect overtime for any work put in after the 40-hour workweek. This is fairly easy to track and manage. However, overtime pay can become a shift management nightmare in a 24/7 operations schedule. If a worker’s shift straddles two different pay periods, you need to be prepared to pay the worker fairly and correctly. Some businesses pay for the worker’s shift in her first pay period when the shift began, some pay in the second pay period when the shift ended, and some split the pay between the two. You need to be aware of these issues, especially if your employees are entitled to overtime pay.
  • Holiday payHoliday pay sometimes is even more of a shift management challenge than overtime pay. You will need to determine how you are going to handle paying employees whose shifts cross over a regular day and a holiday. If your organization gives paid holidays, will your worker get paid for the hours of the regular day and then leave the shift early, when the holiday begins? If it’s a paid holiday but the employee works, what will her compensation be?

Shift management solutions can help you plan and schedule shifts for any workforce. If your organization is large, or if you are struggling with the shift management challenges mentioned above, it may be time for you to consider a shift management solution that accounts for employee availability and preferences and sets schedules based on your company’s policies and regulations.