Why is changing schedules so difficult?

October 12, 2018
Source: Jim Dillingham

Companies are often surprised at how difficult changing a shift schedule can be.

There are several reasons for this but the big two are:

  1. Employees are familiar and thus comfortable with their current schedule while something else represents an unknown.  To an extent, we all fear the unknown.
  2. A schedule is very personal to those that work it.  It tells them when they can go on vacation, when they can pick up their kids and when they can coach sports.  Even a small change in the schedule feels like a company has stuck their hand into a shift worker's private life and stirred things up.

There are other, less dominant issues as well.  Maybe two spouses are on different schedules and they have things worked out so that one is always at home and thus, no money is needed for daycare.  Maybe a shift worker is also a student and a new schedule will cause them to miss classes.  Maybe there is misinformation about the new schedule - someone that doesn't want change is spreading the false narrative that "Overtime will go up" or "People will be laid off."

The best way to address the resistance is a combination of education and participation.

If people knew exactly what they were getting into, the change would be easier.  If the change represented shift worker input so that it minimized unwanted disruption to their personal situations, change would be easier.  If shift workers understood the need for a change as well as how it could personally benefit them, the change would be easier.

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Tags:shiftworkchange managementconsultingFear of the unknownchanging schedulescombating resistance to changewhy a change is personalshift schedules