Finding the best strategy for managing your shift-work operation is challenging – but it is just the first step. The next step is successfully implementing that solution. What does it take to successfully implement the right shift-work solution?
Having worked with so many companies to implement new shift-work solutions, we know what it takes to succeed.
The Implementation Strategy Will Include:
- Advanced planning. Finding and implementing the best shift-work solution takes time and effort. If possible, you should begin working on your shift-work strategy at least four months before you
expect to implement change. This allows you to fully grasp the opportunities that exist and anticipate problems that may occur during the implementation process. More importantly, it allows your workforce to understand the opportunities, and contribute to the solutions. It also gives the workforce the necessary opportunity to air their concerns and allows you to develop solutions that address their needs too.
- Follow a successful change process. Even with four months available, the process you follow to implement a new shift-work solution will need to be efficient. We have found that the change process is most successful if it addresses the business requirements and the employees’ personal and health needs.
- Cover the bases and work out the details in advance. This seems elementary, but we have found that when clients have made changes to the shift-work operations on their own, they often forget to take all factors into account. Making a mistake can increase your costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.
- Plan for changing business conditions and modify management and pay systems to fit with new schedules. Doing this work upfront will allow you to execute your plan when changes are required, rather than reacting to a crisis.
- Set measurable performance criteria. When you and your employees evaluate various shift-work alternatives, you will choose the best one based on meeting your goals. Identify measurable criteria that can be used to determine if your goals have been met. Then, as results become available, management and the workforce will be able to objectively evaluate the new shift-work system.
- Give the new system time to succeed. From the employees’ perspective, making changes is often difficult. Evaluating a new schedule can take six months to a year to fully understand its impact on different seasons, production periods, vacations, and holidays. You may also find that new management systems have a learning curve that must be completed before the full benefits are realized.
- Follow up on the new system. Some results are difficult to measure on an ongoing basis. Six months to a year after implementation, it is often worthwhile to formally review (including surveying the workforce) the new solution. This process often results in refining the solutions to work even better for the company and the workforce. In fact, companies find that an annual evaluation of the shift-work operations allows them to continually improve their shift-work operation with minimal effort.
What Should Be in Your Implementation Package?
If you are changing your shift-work operations, questions and issues that we have found should be addressed include:
- Shift schedule. Why is it changing? How is it changing? How does this affect the operation?
- Pay policies. How do they work? How is pay affected? How are operating costs affected?
- Management systems. How are you going to manage overtime, absences, communication, training, work distribution, supervision and support, material control, maintenance, etc?
- Performance criteria. How do we know if we are succeeding? Who is in charge of follow-up, and how are the stakeholders going to be involved?
- Fallback plan. What happens if the new system is not working as well as expected for the management or the employees? Often the fallback plan gives everyone the incentive they need to make the right solution a success.
Shiftwork Solutions can help you implement a new shift-work solution that results in improved efficiency and productivity while improving employee morale. Having helped over 200 companies, the consultants at Shiftwork Solutions know how to help you get it right the first time.
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