What is shift work scheduling: everything you need to know

Shift Work Scheduling

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Businesses today, especially those which rely on shift work, often struggle to effectively organise and manage the number of employees across jobs, projects and contracts. This usually has a significant impact on the business, which is why shift work scheduling has become such an essential if not critical business function. Let’s look at what shift work scheduling encompasses and how it can assist businesses.

Shift Work Scheduling

What is shift work scheduling?

Shift work scheduling refers to the process of scheduling employees’ shifts to ensure that the right employee is at the right job at the right time. With this kind of work shift schedule, employees often work in timed blocks at specific times and dates throughout the week. This scheduling process also allows employers and operations managers to use shift schedules to achieve consistency and fairness when they schedule employees for work.

From the above, it is clear that creating a shift schedule and shift management is incredibly important. Without this kind of schedule, you could have the wrong employees at the wrong locations, have the wrong type of employees at the wrong job sites etc. But managing so many different moving parts and shifts of work is often complex and complicated. This is why many businesses are turning to innovative shift work scheduling software to schedule employee shifts of work effectively. This kind of software can ensure labour efficiency by rostering and posting shifts and quickly identifying problems like incorrect numbers and grades as well as overtime or non-productive time at multiple client locations. This also provides you as a manager with insight and information necessary to make informed business decisions. One of the benefits of this kind of software is its ability to adapt to many different types of shift schedules.

6 Types of Shift Schedules

Not all businesses operate the same, which is why there are several different types of shift work, shift patterns, and shift planning processes used to schedule employees. These include:

  1. Full-Time Shift Schedule – A typical full-time workweek schedule is 45 hours, excluding lunch breaks. This means that full-time workers require a commitment of 9 hours per day for five days or less in a week, or 8 hours per day for five days or more in a week. Full-time work schedules vary from company to company and depend on the operating hours. But for the most part, full-time workers can expect to work the same shifts every week.
  2. Part-Time Shift Schedule – The most apparent difference between full-time and part-time work schedules is the number of hours employees are required to work. Any work schedule with fewer hours than a full-time schedule is considered part-time. Some staff may prefer part-time employment as it allows them more flexibility. 
  3. Rotating Shift Schedule – A rotating shift plan often works best for companies that operate on a continuous or 24/7 basis. Rotating shift rosters include day, night, and swing shifts that cycle weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
  4. Split Shift Schedule – Working split shifts means employees split their work hours throughout the day. For example, if someone is required to work for 8 hours per day, they could opt to work 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening. This is a popular staff schedule among businesses that are open continuously, and among teams that need flexibility. 
  5. DuPont Shift Schedule – The DuPont roster is a common shift work schedule and works as follows: The work schedule is broken into shifts and works in a 12-hour shift rotating pattern. Employees are divided into four teams. During a 4-week period, each team will work a set of 4 consecutive night shifts, followed by 3 off duty days in the first week. They then work for 3-day shifts, followed by 1 off day and then work 3 consecutive night shifts. Thereafter, the team has 3 off days which are followed by 4-day shifts and then 7 days off. This roster repeats every four weeks. 
  6. Pitman Shift Schedule – Commonly known as the “Every Other Weekend Off” schedule, the Pitman shift roster is when employees are split into 4 teams working two 12-hour long shifts per day. This roster operates in 2-week cycles, and with it, teams have every other weekend off and employees never work more than three consecutive days.

There are several different companies and industries that make use of these types of employee shift working schedules. These companies include those in the security and cleaning sector and labour brokers. For these companies to manage this scheduling process effectively, the software chosen needs to tick several boxes.


Fundamental components of shift work scheduling solutions

When choosing the right kind of shift work scheduling solution that enables you to effectively make a work schedule for your employees and manage shift planning, you need to ensure that the software has the following capabilities:

  • Contract management – details regarding each site or location are captured and maintained in the system allowing you to keep track of labour needs and requirements.
  • Personnel management – details regarding each person, permanent and contingent, to be managed are captured and maintained in the system. This includes information related to their skills levels, ranks, capabilities, etc.
  • Staff scheduling per location – scheduling (rostering) of personnel shifts are done per location and may be done manually or automatically, making scheduling contingent workers that much easier.

Flexible business rules –allows for customised business rules according to your unique requirements. This is especially important when contingent workers need to change and adapt to the organisation’s changing needs.

Shift Work Scheduling


One solution that ticks all of the capability boxes above is EasyRoster. This software solution takes the complexity out of creating an employee work schedule and makes the process easy and practical to manage. If you are looking for a shift work scheduling solution that works across various types of shift schedules, then look no further. Book a demo today for more on how this innovative software can simplify and streamline your employee scheduling.

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