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How to Manage Shift Workers for Better Results

Managing Shift Employees for Better Results
Do you have shift workers at your business? As our society increasingly wants everything “now,” 24/7 business schedules have become more common. From the construction and transportation industries to healthcare and hospitality, more and more businesses have employees working what’s commonly defined as “shift work,” that is, work outside the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Shift work may take place in the evening, the early morning or the middle of the night. Overtime or extra-long workdays are also considered shift work.

Shift workers’ schedules generally “rotate” around the clock. In other words, they might work from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. for a week, switch to a midnight to 8 a.m. shift the next week, and then to a regular day shift the third week.

Dangers of Shift Work

While scheduling employees [1] on shifts might help your business be more competitive, it can also backfire on both your business and your employees. A majority of night-shift workers (62%) get inadequate sleep, according to the National Safety Council [2], because they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

There’s even a recognized illness called shift work disorder [3], according to the National Sleep Foundation [4], that affects up to 10% of U.S. shift workers. Symptoms can include sleepiness, insomnia, headaches, depression, irritability and trouble concentrating. In the long term, shift work can contribute to chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and anxiety.

Your business also faces risks when employees work shifts. According to OSHA [5]:

Managing Shift Employees Safely

Unfortunately, sometimes shift work is unavoidable. How can you make it safer for both your employees and your business? Here are some tips.



If a worker simply can’t acclimate to shift work, don’t force it. Otherwise, you could be putting both your employee and your business at risk.

Photo via Shutterstock [6]