Smart Scheduling: Tips for Keeping Shift Workers Happy

shift worker schedules

The workday world is a challenge for nearly everyone. Savvy businesses have learned that the key component to a productive and successful workplace is workers that are content. For instance, a high turnover is a sign that some changes need to take place. What makes the situation even more taxing for businesses is how to deal with multiple shifts that workers are often required to accommodate.


The person responsible for shift coverage should take the time to organize the employee schedule efficiently. This includes being aware of work loads and tweaking them as necessary. An already over-worked employee is less likely to be interested in covering certain shifts than those who are well rested and have adequate support while working.

Research competitive benefits to offer in terms of time off. For example, if the company requires that major holidays are covered, provide ways for the employees who volunteer or agree to work to have that time off on other days. Including an extra day off is another tactic that can increase motivation to work those shifts.


Whenever possible, give workers some flexibility. When employees are offered some choices as to which shifts they will work, they can feel more in control of their lives in general. Have discussions with workers to determine what their preferences are. Doing this creates a sense of mutual respect. Therefore, when it is necessary to ask a worker to stay longer or work a different shift, they will more than likely remember how they were accommodated in the past and be more receptive and cooperative.


The best way to get shifts covered in workplaces is to offer incentives. There is a reason that swing shift workers and those working extended hours and on holidays get paid more. Capitalize on this and offer more reasons that may make working these shifts more appealing to workers. For example, in addition to the extra pay, offer the chance to accrue time toward a paid day off. For some workers, the extra pay associated with working undesirable hours is not enough, especially when taxes are factored in. This is where other perks can go a long way for businesses. Below are some other inducements to consider:

a. Ending the workday earlier with full pay
b. Catering lunch, snacks or other meals
c. Special awards for good attitudes
d. Gift cards

Holiday Shifts

Few workers enjoy working over a major holiday. However, for many businesses, those shifts need to be covered in any case. The service industry is one that often needs round the clock shift coverage. Doing something special for those who work on those holidays is easy to do. For instance, drop by the office on that day with a tray full of treats or arrange to take them out to lunch or cater in. This not only gives you a chance to thank workers in person, but it shows that you are thinking about them and want to make it easier for them to get through their work.

Above all, remember that making a connection with workers is what matters most. Companies that take the time to do this find that their workers are far more receptive to change when they know that their hard work and willingness to go the extra mile is being recognized.

Ann Bailey provides these suggestions for any small business shift scheduler. Wheniwork(dot)com is an online vendor of a comprehensive employee schedule program, and brings all of the benefits of a full scheduling department to small businesses with just the click of a mouse.