The competitive advantages of 168 hour-a-week utilization of facilities and equipment or providing seamless 24/7 customer service may seem obvious. But workload often fluctuates, creating pockets of inefficiency and overload, so that proportional staffing of 24/7 operations may be needed to maximize efficiency. In this world, predictive models, creative staffing strategies and optimized scheduling become the key to continuous optimization. Furthermore, people who work shifts and 24/7 schedules care deeply about their work schedules and the timing of days off. Unlike machinery and equipment, they are not naturally designed to work at night. 24/7 workforce optimization requires a sophisticated understanding of how to protect employee performance and morale, health, and safety.
Corporate Shiftwork Strategy
It is vital to develop policies and systems to manage the special challenges of employing a 24/7 workforce. This is a hugely different world from 9-5 daytime work. Effectively managing the excess costs of a shiftwork operation requires a comprehensive approach. This approach often requires direction at a corporate level to develop a plan of action for effectively managing the costs, risks and liabilities of shiftwork. Developing the proper road map reduces the inefficiencies of multiple sites and locations working on their own individual challenges without proper support, guidelines, and tools.
While not all of your operations or locations will be facing the same challenges, an overall approach will assist both the individual operation as well as the overall company. The goal would be to develop a toolbox that individual operations can use to manage their unique challenges. A comprehensive shiftwork strategy developed at the corporate level will provide the support and guidance that the individual sites can use to face and overcome their unique challenges.
Expanding to 7 days
To get the benefits without aggrieved employees it is critical to bring them into the process of designing work schedules to achieve fuller capacity utilization. In today's global economy, many plants operating on traditional 5-day production schedules are finding it difficult to compete. They may experience:
- Significant idle capacity - weekly startups and shutdowns reduce productivity and efficiency.
- Excessive overtime as employees are asked to work weekends.
- High turnover - especially if token crews are used on the weekends.
Eventually comes the realization that something must be done, and that more efficient utilization of equipment and human assets must be obtained. This can best be accomplished by expanding the plant to a 7-day continuous operation.
Unfortunately, such conversions are extremely complex and fraught with pitfalls that can have disastrous consequences if not carefully planned and managed. To achieve all the benefits of continuous operations requires major cultural, organizational, and operational change. While the opportunity to reduce unit costs, achieve greater asset utilization, defer capital expenditures, and better meet customer needs is alluring, the effect on the people throughout your organization is dramatic. Many problems must be solved before the new ways of working can be accepted.
Whether your operational workload fluctuates or is steady, finding the right balance of staffing and workload is critical. Miscalculated staffing levels and sub-optimized shift schedules cause excessive overtime, often coupled with underutilized employee capacity. When there are not enough employees at a given time of day, the need for overtime arises. The difficulty for many operations is identifying the optimal number of employees and how to distribute them. This is particularly challenging for industries where demand and production is highly variable, with daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonal fluctuations.
The goal is to match employees up as close as possible to the needs of the operation. However, in doing so, the resulting schedule is often not very accommodating towards employee preferences. This problem can lead to higher absenteeism and turnover rates, which in turn will often drive-up overtime.
How CIRCADIAN® can help you
CIRCADIAN® provides specialized assistance in planning and facilitating 5- to 7-day plant expansions. These technical and tactical support services are designed to help you realize the full benefits of the change and achieve the desired return-on-investment.
- Shift Schedule Optimization. By collaborating with employees, unions, and management, CIRCADIAN® develops schedule options that meet the business needs, satisfy worker preferences, and are compatible with human physiology to promote health, safety, and alertness. This ensures that the best possible scheduling solution will be achieved.
- Shiftwork Opportunity Assessment. Using a deep analysis of key performance indicators, CIRCADIAN® can identify areas in any shiftwork operation that are creating excess costs.
- Expanding to 7 Day Operations. CIRCADIAN® provides specialized assistance to plan and facilitate 5- to 7-day plant expansions. Based on 25 years of hands-on field experience, CIRCADIAN® 's support services will help you to realize the full benefits of the change, and to achieve the desired return-on-investment.
- Fatigue Risk Management System. CIRCADIAN® provides a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to minimizing fatigue.
- Proportional Staffing. Companies that have implemented flexible workforce management programs have experienced significant operational improvements. In one police department, scheduling efficiency rose from 65% to over 80% without adding any additional staffing.
- Staffing Level Analysis. Identifying the core manpower requirement is crucial to improving the utilization of employees.
- 24/7 Workforce Management Software. When workload demand is highly variable, schedule optimization tools provide efficient solutions
- Managing a Shiftwork Lifestyle. This on-site training program provides critical information to help employees better deal with the unique challenges of working shiftwork, especially with night shifts, rotating schedules, and long extended hours. This training includes practical information on fatigue, alertness, sleep, nutrition, health, family/social life and more. Studies confirm that this training not only provides substantial improvements in employee health, safety, and performance, but also serves to maximize the overall benefits of the new or existing schedule.
- Educational Support Publications. Educating safety-sensitive and quality-critical employees about fatigue and helping them be fully rested on the job is a non-stop challenge. To reinforce and maintain the benefits of employee training and/or scheduling changes, or to simply provide practical information to help them better cope with the special challenges of shiftwork, support publications can serve a critical function. CIRCADIAN® has developed a range of award-winning publications specifically written to sustain the benefits of its in-person consulting and training, as well as provide knowledge that will empower employees to take better control in improving their own health, safety, and performance.
- On-site Workshops. These assist in exploring the unique challenges faced by the corporation and individual operations to lay the groundwork for development of a comprehensive shiftwork strategy.
- Full-Service Relationship. The full-service relationship is designed to assist you in the development of a comprehensive fatigue management plan as well as begin the education of managers and shiftworkers on the benefits of maintaining an alert, healthy and safe shiftwork workforce.
- HR Policies and Procedures. Using data collected annually from more than four hundred individual shiftwork operations, CIRCADIAN® can provide industry-specific information on overtime practices, scheduling issues, pay levels, and many other different topics.