Time & Attendance
By Gustav Anderson
Sep. 6, 2021
So, you are considering a 12-hour hour shift schedule. This is a bold move that has the potential to increase both employee efficiency and morale. But how do you properly manage to transition your workforce to four extra hours per shift? Debbie in HR needs her priorities balanced with that of Dale down in the warehouse; their daily routines are at the mercy of you, the all-powerful manager. This is a lot of pressure, I know.
This pressure to make the perfect schedule stems mostly from all the potential benefits your company stands to gain from making the change. Workers get extended time off, allowing for a generally better work-life balance in the long run. 12-hour shifts also have lower turnover, resulting in fewer errors in employee miscommunication and inconsistency between shifts. Lower shift turnover also means less unproductive downtime – the value from this adds up quickly after a year.
All of these benefits are great and all, but let’s slow our roll. The first step is to choose a specific type of 12-hour schedule. Fortunately, there are many options to choose from for organizations operating 24/7.
So, let’s dive into some of the best 12-hour shift schedule examples. Make sure to evaluate them with your employees before adopting any particular one.
Named after the company where it originated in the late 1950s, its most notable feature is seven straight days off during every 28-day rotation. It uses four teams and two twelve-hour rotating day and night shifts to provide 24/7 coverage on a four-week cycle. Each team works 4 consecutive night shifts, followed by 3 days off duty, then 3 consecutive day shifts, followed by 1 day off duty, then 3 consecutive night shifts, then 3 days off duty, then 4 consecutive day shifts, then finally 7 consecutive days off duty.
This schedule emerged in the 1960s and became popular in the 1980s. It’s sometimes known as EOWEO or “every other weekend off.” Employees follow a 14-day pattern of 2 days on, 2 off, 3 days on, 2 off, 2 days on and then 3 off.
Workers know they’ll have a three-day weekend off every other weekend and won’t have to work more than three-night shifts in a row. However, workers don’t get more than three days off in a row unlike with many other 12-hour rotating schedules. Also, this schedule often requires workers to rotate rapidly between night and day shifts – this can be quite fatiguing.
A slightly adjusted version of this schedule is called the Pitman schedule and features the same 2-3-2 format. However, with the Pitman, there are two or more teams. Some of these teams are on day shifts while others are on nights.
Here, employees work four days or nights and then have four days or nights off. At some companies, workers stay on nights for as long as 24 days; at others, they switch every eight days. It usually consists of two teams, one covers day shifts and the other covers night shifts.
This schedule offers workers enough time off to recuperate. Also, in every eight-week cycle, workers have one period in which they get three straight weekends off.
Alternatively, management could adopt a three on, three off schedule, which, I would hope, should be fairly self-explanatory to you at this point.
If you are looking to maximize days off, this one might be for you. Two sequences are in the schedule here. On a two-week cycle, one squad works 5 days on then has 5 days off, then 2 days on 2 days off. The second squad works 5 days on and has 2 days off, then 2 days on and 5 days off. This sequence is repeated with two more squads for night shifts.
This method is great for getting consistent long breaks. However, workers are also subject to working five 12-hour days over a seven-day stretch with only a two-day break in the mix.
Overwhelmed yet? I wouldn’t blame you. Crafting these schedules for yourself may seem like a daunting task. Luckily, Workforce.com has a solution for this task, offering software that combines a simple user interface with comprehensive employee scheduling automation. If you are a business staffed by hourly employees in retail, hospitality, food & beverage, or healthcare, workforce management software could be the answer to your 12-hour shift problems.
Here are a few of its key features:
The shift pattern tool allows managers to create schedules that follow “rules” like the recommended schedules listed above. Employees can be assigned to teams that follow certain patterns. Once a shift pattern is created, managers can then save and use it to auto-generate future schedules.
Workforce.com also allows managers to auto-build shifts based on demand. Managers can set parameters for every shift, like making them all 12 hours minimum in length. While this method sacrifices a consistent 12-hour shift schedule pattern, it properly adjusts for consumer demand and makes the scheduling process even faster.
Beyond the obvious logistical hurdles of manually creating a 12-hour schedule, errors in labor compliance and break scheduling are additional causes for concern. Luckily, Workforce.com has compliance features such as classification tags designed to conform your business with regional labor and union policies regarding minimum wage, overtime, and break schedules.
Breaks in particular are a tricky part of the 12-hour schedule equation. Employee burnout resulting from excessive work demands and mismanaged break planning can be quite a common problem with this style of schedule.
Oh, you want an example? I’ll give you one. Nurses are especially prone to a condition deemed “occupational fatigue” when working 12-hour shifts according to a study published earlier this year in The Journal of Nursing Administration. The last thing a hospital or a patient wants is a bleary-eyed nurse haphazardly administering the wrong meds.
Employee burnout like this is something you absolutely want to avoid. Proper measures need to be taken to ensure workers subject to 12-hour shifts have sufficient recovery time between and during shifts. Luckily, Workforce.com makes it quick and easy to set up breaks to be automatically built into every employee’s schedule. Managers can also track breaks in real-time via notifications to ensure employees are taking properly timed breaks.
And remember: often, switching from an 8-hour to a 12-hour shift schedule can increase wages by around 2%. Workforce.com ensures cost neutrality during the switching process via live labor tracking that can tell you exactly when employees are working and how they are being compensated for their time.
It is also worth knowing that 12-hour rotating shifts are not always applicable to every industry. For jobs requiring strenuous physical activity or long hours in the outdoors, 12-hour shifts may be too physically draining for employees to handle on a daily basis. Older employees and single parents may also find difficulty adapting to 12-hour shift schedules.
Moreover, workforce management software is best suited for automating 12-hour shifts for hourly workers in retail, hospitality, staffing, and sometimes healthcare. If your business is in a much more niche industry with highly specialized needs, it would be best to look for software specific to your use case.
(Psst…be sure to check out our user reviews below!)
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