Be Careful What You Ask For - Part One

October 1, 2018

Once upon a time, about 28 years ago now, nearly every 24/7 operation in the country was using some version of a rotating 8-hour schedule.  Ten years ago, when I asked large groups of employees if any of them have ever worked one of those outdated 8-hour schedules –  inevitably, several hands would go up.

Today, if I ask...no one remembers that schedule.  People are no longer going to 12-hour shifts and saying "Thank God that 8-hour rotating beast went away."  Instead, they are born into 12-hour shifts, with no knowledge of what the old schedules used to look like.

So, what are workers wishing for now?  They are saying "12-hours is too long to work.  I want to go to an 8-hour schedule." They say this thinking that they will somehow reduce the length of the shift and not have to go to work 50% more days of the year.  They don't know that they are really asking to give up half of their weekends.  The certainly don't know that they are asking to give up their fixed shifts for rotating ones.

The cure for this is information.  When your workforce brings up the "shift is too long" issue, all you need to do is make sure they completely understand what the alternative is.

While I have never had anyone tell me "I love being at work for 12 hours," I also have never had someone say "I really want to work more days for less money and fewer weekends off while rotating through all the different shifts every four weeks."

Here are a couple of charts that will hopefully help to demonstrate what you are getting into with 8-hour shifts.  I use the most popular 8-hour 24/7 pattern there is. In the example, I use 12 employees to make 3 show up 24/7.

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Tags:12-hour shift8-hour shiftlong shiftfixed shiftrotating shiftshift lengthafternoon shiftcrew sizerequired staffingannual workdaysshift patterns