Having a business that is operating 24/7 is no longer uncommon in this day and age. Here at ShiftPlanning, we want to accommodate all your scheduling needs, including coordinating 24/7 scheduling coverage.
Our web-based schedule maker and workforce management software makes creating recurring schedules quick, easy and manageable. By setting recurring shifts, your scheduling process is shortened, saving you great amounts of time and money.
ShiftPlanning’s state-of-the-art application allows you to create one set of schedules and have them recur for up to 12 months, while retaining all shift information and employee specifications.
One popular scheduling constraint is 8-hour shifts, between four employees, for example. To set a schedule that rotates four employees over 8-hour shifts with one employee per shift, you first need to create the shifts. To do so, click on the desired date and type in the 8-hour time period for the shift, such as “8am-4pm”.
Now, you need to set this change this shift to a recurring shift so that it repeats daily. To make a recurring shift, click on the single shift to open the shift window.
To repeat the shift, click the ‘Never Repeats’ button on the bottom left, which will open the ‘Repeat Shift’ window, shown below.
Select ‘Daily’ from the dropdown menu (to make the shift time repeat each day), the end date and whether you would like to repeat the shift with or without the associated employees. Press ‘Set to Repeat!’ and your schedule will refresh, showing the repeated shifts.
If you repeat this process for the two other 8-hour shifts (4pm-12am and 12am-8am), you will have a total of 21 shifts per week that ensures 24/7 coverage. This is the fewest number of shifts required for full coverage based on 8-hour shifts.
In order to get the most fair schedule between four employees, the 21 shifts need to be divided in the following manner: six shifts for employee #1, five shifts for employee #2, five shifts for employee #3 and five shifts for employee #4. This works out to be 48 hours, 40 hours, 40 hours and 40 hours, respectively, for the week. Employee hours will even out over four weeks, if a different employee takes six shifts each week as opposed to five shifts.
When the shifts are created, managers can either run the scheduling wizard to randomly assign an employee to each shift, or manually assign employees to each shift in the shift window.
The Biggest Challenges of Running a 24/7 Operation
Running a business that needs to be working non-stop, naturally, can be quite a grueling undertaking. Of course, this demands a great amount of dedication from staff members and a willingness to work a shift that certainly won’t always consist of “regular” 9-5 hours.
While the challenges are manyfold for employees, the task of managing a 24/7 operation and creating a schedule for these workers is just as complex. Not only do you always need to keep an eye on employee morale and make sure that your staff is healthy, happy and productive under very demanding work circumstances, you also have to deal with complex calculations and pay issues that are a direct result of running an around-the-clock business.
Dealing with Fatigue
One thing that you need to recognize, above all else, when it comes to managing a 24/7 operation is that your employees are not machines. There are so many things to take into consideration when you have employees who are working irregular hours and forced to perform under sometimes very unusual and stressful circumstances.
The human factor needs to be inserted into the equation. Employees, no matter how good or dedicated, can’t be expected to perform like computers. This, of course, goes for all workers – even those who work regular 9-5 hours. But it’s especially important when running an around-the-clock operation where every hour needs to be planned out to perfection. Managers in these types of situations might not have as much personal contact with their employees. Engaging workers in such an operation is incredibly difficult. Without that constant contact and personal touch, it’s sometimes easy to forget that you are managing people, not machines.
Take a minute to take everything into perspective. Think of how hard it is for some of your workers to work this type of shift physiologically. Some of them are working all hours of the night and have a work/life schedule that doesn’t reflect the hours of most of their family or friends. Many of them are sleeping while the rest of the world is working and vice verse. These are atypical working conditions, which means that your approach to managing them needs to be atypical as well.
Something that 24/7 operation managers needs to get familiar with is the so-called fatigue risk management systems that can help to combat some of the issues that your employees might be having.
Installing a quality fatigue management system involves a very hands-on approach. It’s a very data-driven process that needs to entail constant monitoring and engagement. The goal of these systems is to make sure that your employees are not only performing at adequate levels, but that they are also living healthy and happy lives.
In this process, managers and employees need to work together in order to get to the root of fatigue-related problems and try to find a solution to overcome them. It has been shown that companies that implement these types of systems can improve their productivity and the performance of their employees greatly. But most importantly, working on fatigue management plans can help your employees sleep better, work better, work safer and healthier and feel better about their working environment.
Managing Overtime and Holidays
Overtime management is incredibly hard when running a 24/7 business as well. You are dealing with many unorthodox pay periods and often have employees who work through several established pay periods. You really need to fine-tune your policies in such a situation. Your best bet is to have some type of advanced and versatile employee management software at your disposal, like ShiftPlanning.
Our payroll features make it easier to run pay periods for 24/7 operations. You’ll also have a much easier time defining your policies and automating them so that you don’t have to struggle every week with recalculations and trying to manage your books by hand day after day.
ShiftPlanning has a very robust set of options when it comes to determining and really rounding out and defining your overtime policies.
Don’t forget about holidays either. How do you manage holidays when there are no days off at your company? Holiday pay rules need to be strictly enforced and it’s difficult to calculate holiday pay when there happens to be a shift that is not fully worked during a holiday but overlaps with holiday boundaries.
Most of the time, you’re not paying for a full day of holiday work, but overlapping hours that enter holiday work territory. It’s truly a complex process, and the more help you have automating this process and keeping your payroll records clean, the better off you’ll be.
Keeping Track of Time and Attendance
We’ve already come to the conclusion that if you want to run a 24/7 business the right way, you are going to need some help from some type of an employee scheduling software that can help you create a perfect shift each time. However, you’re going to need one that is flexible and has more advanced features that your average coffee shop would need, for example.
That software solution must have a very good time and attendance system, one that can be customized a great deal in order to meet your around-the-clock scheduling and time tracking needs, no matter how big or small your number of employees is.
Many of the solutions you’ll find cater to standard business types with standardized scheduling needs. If you were to use a less robust software to manage the time and attendance needs of your 24/7 operation, you would constantly have to spend countless hours every week adjusting your timesheets manually in an effort to provide the correct data to whoever runs your payroll.
Get a seriously robust employee schedule maker like ShiftPlanning and you won’t have these types of problems week in and week out. Plain and simple.
Managing Complex Work Data
There is probably nothing more vital to the success of your 24/7 operation than being able to have real-time work data at your fingertips. Having all of the work data available in one place makes it much easier for you to analyse your process and tweak your operation in order to improve the way you are running your team.
Having robust reporting options available to you enables you to create more accurate labor budgets, and optimize the way in which you schedule your team.
Even better, if you are able to import data related to sales and services, you can even stack that against your work data and notice trends that could help you improve what you do. Are you noticing that productivity is going down at a certain time during the day, or that you are getting more customer complaints in the morning? Use that type of data to make corresponding changes that could ultimately improve your operation.
Having real-time data available to you and being able to efficiently analyze it can save you money and also improve the way you manage your employees, which in turn can give you a more effective and happier staff.
It’s all about seeing the data and then being able to implement changes and forecast improvements based on the information.