While the term ‘nine to five’ tends to dominate the corporate spotlight, the reality is that around 16% of Australia’s workforce are shift workers, and in New Zealand, a 2018 survey found that almost two out of five employees worked in jobs where their hours of work often changed to suit their employer’s needs.
Backed with a host of benefits, rosters that think outside the nine-to-five timeframe can be an effective way to boost organisational productivity.
If you’re flirting with the idea of introducing a rotating roster system, read on for our guide to what benefits the model could bring to your workplace.
Balancing skill sets
Post-2020, many businesses have made the switch to staggered shifts to accommodate evolving COVID capacity requirements. There’s a further benefit to this – it can help businesses actively balance the skillsets of employees throughout their opening hours. Both experience and capacity can vary dramatically, which means rotating rosters are a bona fide way to ensure performance remains high at all times.
From a performance perspective, the most valuable employees are the ones with the broadest skillsets. For example, the opening and closing procedures for a café are markedly different. Employees opening the café need to prep food, grind beans, lay tables and set up daily operations. In comparison, closing shift staff must clean, count cash and lock up.
A rotating roster exposes employees to all business operations, which makes them far more flexible, and valuable.
Under a rotating roster, managers enjoy far more flexibility when it comes to accommodating staff requests. Employees can choose shifts according to their individual needs, and request leave without shaking up the system.
Studies have long shown that workplace flexibility helps to build staff morale, which ultimately translates to increased productivity, loyalty and general wellbeing.
When workplaces operate beyond a nine-to-five schedule, day shifts tend to be more coveted than their ‘after hours’ counterparts. On a rotating schedule, all employees are equally exposed to day shifts. This helps to establish a fair workplace, fuelled by positive employee relationships.
Training new employees is a big expense and tends to be overseen by senior staff. A rotating roster allows training to be consolidated, as all new employees alternate shifts. This streamlines the training process and ensures operations aren’t disrupted during onboarding.
A shorter working week
Research has shown that three-day weekends are good for the soul. While nine-to-five working days force employees to put in five days a week, rotating rosters allow for longer shifts, over a shorter number of days. This unlocks access to the fabled three-day weekend, which is a major drawcard for employees.
Rotating shifts tend to be longer than the standard eight hours. This means employees often think twice about bailing at the eleventh hour, as it translates to a smaller paycheck.
Attracting talent and minimising turnover
The concept of shift work is incredibly appealing to some workers, particularly those that value flexibility. Companies that restrict their staff to more traditional hours often lose out on top talent or find themselves continually replacing staff.
For example, a juice bar may want to recruit young energetic staff, with university students fitting the bill perfectly. While it’s unlikely students will want to commit to set shifts, a rotating roster will be successful in attracting and retaining top talent.
Rotating schedules allow for longer shifts, which ultimately minimise the number of staff turnovers per day. This reduces the risk of miscommunication mistakes and keeps productivity consistently high.
Increased accountability and continuity
When a workplace limits itself to a Team A and Team B scenario, relationships can quickly become negative. The divisive environment can create a “pass the blame” attitude, which promotes laziness and inefficiency.
In contrast, rotating rosters create cohesive teams, encourage accountability and motivate crews to carry out comprehensive handovers.
Reduced shift adaptation time
Many shift workers testify they prefer longer stints as they’re able to “get in the groove” and maintain peak productivity for longer.
All shifts see productivity drop as employees settle in and wind down. However, the impact is markedly less for 12-hour shifts as the overall peak productivity margin is higher.
Rewarding high performance
Unlike conventional nine-to-five rosters, rotating shifts allow managers to reward employees for high performance. For example, stellar sales could translate to the first pick of next month’s most coveted shifts.
Ultimately, the goal of any rostering strategy is to increase productivity. In the right context, a rotating roster will absolutely achieve this. Skill sets are balanced, employee morale is high and a host of other key factors all fall into line.
Together, these inevitably lead to an increase in organisational productivity and a workplace that runs like clockwork.