There is a distinct portion of the workforce required to work in shifts in customer-service oriented job roles in call centers, manufacturing plants and organisations with 24/7 service operations. These include the security personnel, machine operators, manufacturing workers and those into transportation and logistics.
There has been a growing demand for shift workers today, owing to increasing business needs, strict project deadlines, 24/7 customer service operations in call centers and so on. With advancements in technology and competitive pace of global economy, the list of tasks that require workers to work on shift-basis is steadily increasing.
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While global majors are on an expansion spree and no dearth of job opportunities, these present an increasing need for shift workers to be able to manage 24/7 operations of business independently with minimal supervision, navigate change and be able to handle customer-service requirements across different time zones timely.
A shift worker is commonly defined as someone who is required to work in shifts, not sticking to strict 9 to 5 working hour schedules, expected to work outside the normal working hours in late night and early morning shifts.
Managing shift workers is not easy, as these employees are required to be up and working with full attention during off hours at night, thus affecting their sleep patterns and body clock routines. Sometimes the workforce at night tends to go lazy and fall asleep during their workings. Thus, managing their attention span all the time to ensure active engagement during the odd working hours at a stretch is a challenge for HR managers.
It is extremely important for these shift workers to feel motivated and empowered to work in shifts. They should be provided with perks, bonuses and cool benefits, such that they enjoy working at odd hours, sacrificing their sleep and continue to perform their best.
Here are some great tips to manage shift workers:
- Offer more benefits and incentives. Working in shifts is tough, as employees have to attune their body clock to be able to stay up during different time zones, handle customer service operations, reschedule their family, social and personal commitments of life, make alterations to their lifestyle to be able to adjust to the new work routine and so on.
- When organisations employ workforce working in shifts, it is important for HR managers to treat them as valuable assets, recognise their contributions and manage them effectively with rewards and benefits to retain talent.
- Provide employee benefits such as paid vacations and time off from work, competitive health and security insurance, even bonuses and incentives would help the shift workers to feel motivated to perform regularly and accomplish the tasks on time with complete commitment towards the job role.
- Avoid frequent shift changes. Frequent shift changes would make it extremely difficult for the shift workers to strike an effective work-life balance – to be able to make time for their family life and personal commitments beyond work. Such unstable and inconsistent schedules will make these workforce feel more depressed to work with complete focus for maximised productivity. HR managers should ensure consistent allocation of shifts to employees and only roll-up for change in shifts after longer periods of time (such as once in a month for example)
- More flexible breaks. Realising the different needs of both day and night shift workers would make it easier for employers to incorporate flexible breaks. Workers working in night shifts, tend to fall asleep at times. Hence, flexible breaks should be encouraged by the HR management to allow employees working at odd hours, to grab a coffee, take power naps or a small walk outside the office for fresh air or hit the recreation room for a little fun with colleagues. This would help them stay wide awake and perform optimally even during odd hours.
- Help shift workers stay in touch with the company. Shift workers frequently complain of lack of access to information, inner workings and happenings within the company during other hours of the day, such as missing out on important meetings, or lack of interaction with the team working in other shift hours etc. This leads to decreased employee morale, motivation and engagement. HR managers should initiate get-together sessions and activities for employees to mingle and interact with other co-workers, such as Happy Fridays or sports, to help foster employee relationships, better engagement, and thus facilitate higher retention of the workforce. Also effective communication material about recent announcements, change in management or newly added policies, should be shared with all employees via formal emails or internal corporate networks.
- Provide additional safety measures at work. Workers working in night shifts in manufacturing facilities are more prone to accidents, as they are working during odd hours and the slightest amount of negligence can be fatal to human life or material damage to an extent. HR managers should ensure protection and safety of all workers, irrespective of the shifts they work in. Policies should be enacted to create a supportive and secure workplace. Employers should ensure that the needs of shift workers such as adequate lighting, maintaining appropriate decibels of noise, sound control rooms, allergic prevention measures, temperature monitoring and others be implemented in the working zones to minimise chances of accidents.
It is important for organisations to realise that, not all employees can work in shifts and especially night shifts. It requires immense amount of dedication, commitment, willingness to make adjustments, need for healthy state of mind and body to be able to perform consistently.
Hence, it is the duty of organisations to provide adequate support system, attractive salary, benefits and employee-friendly leave policies to retain the workforce working in shifts. This would motivate the shift workers to help them achieve their performance targets within a specific timeframe.
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