What Is Strategic Shift Management?


Any organisation running more than one shift in a single day is using shift management, with or without knowing it. Hence why some businesses are doing it inefficiently.  At its core shift management is subject to the demands of the business, and the market in which they are in. While management of shifts might look quite simple from the outside, it is quite the opposite. Before setting up or scaling up a business, shift management must always be kept in mind. It is also a task that cannot be left to the site, even when the business is running smoothly.


Having a Working Staff Roster Is Important and Vital

If your business needs to operate in shifts, as a business owner you have to understand the importance of having a fair, flexible, and efficient roster system. It will go a long way in not only attracting the best staff but also help to retain them. This is irrespective of the size of your business.

You must seriously consider a cloud-based, automated roster software rather than depend on manual, or semi-manual ways. This significantly reduces the time necessary to create rosters. Rosters are easily templated and stored for future use, which means you can also delegate rostering to others.

There are some ground rules which you must follow when designing an efficient roster. Rosters must be completed at least 5 days from the next working week. This allows for more regularity with staff and helps you keep track of who is available. As far as costing, it is important to calculate using hourly wage rates and any labour on-costs like superannuation.

Lastly, make sure that you have coverage over all your shifts. We have developed several tools that help better visualise your shifts structure, and how to plan the course of the day.


Best Staff Should Be Reserved for Busy Shifts

In hospitality, certain shifts can be relatively predictable. These are typically called the ‘rush periods’ which become extremely busy and demanding. These shifts are usually first thing in the morning, lunch, dinner, and weekends. For these times, it is best to prepare by choosing the best available staff. There can be a tendency for experienced workers to preference day shifts. While this is understandable, in times of emergency where there is a pressing demand for time bound output and delivery schedules, these experienced hands should be motivated to chip in.

Furthermore, it does not help to have single purpose staff. Staff should be trained to understand how the business works whether it is day, evening, nights, weekends, Sundays or even holidays. This should also happen across roles, or by ‘cross training’. There cannot be any straight jacketing of shifts beyond a certain point and it is about keeping productivity and efficiency as the main driving force.


Staff Must Find It Easy To Know Their Shifts

With technology at our fingertips, there is no excuse for not using this to better inform your staff. Today it is possible to do the entire rostering online. It can be prepared early, notify employees either through mail or SMS, and keep them up to date with any changes. Staff should be given the option of accepting the shifts, and they should request for changes, keeping in mind special situations and circumstances.  These programs also help save many hours of admin. Many rosters are designed in such a way that the beginning of the week is relatively light with fewer hours. However, during the weekends when customer pressure could be highest, the number of hours are adjusted and increased accordingly. By having totalled figures for daily/weekly hours, labour, leave etc, you can better cost your week’s rosters, saving money and time.


What Are the Challenges and Problems

There could be quite a few pitfalls and challenges associated with shift management. Especially if your organisation has to work round the clock.  Planning for 24/7 operations can be tough. It is also important to understand that there are other costs involved. These include overtime allowances, ensuring that machinery does not burn out, planning for equipment maintenance, and staff training. But once your business becomes more systemised, and utilises the correct aids, these costs can be minimised.



At the end of the day, there is no doubt that shift based work is becoming extremely common in many industries.  But being a staple part of the hospitality and retail industry it requires owners to understand every aspect involved. It calls for very careful planning and perfect allocation of all resources, especially your staff.

Leave a comment