Shift Patterns

Shift Scheduling is all about assigning the right employees, with the right skills, to the right job, at the right time. We do this by assessing a company’s workload, and creating the perfect shift pattern for them. At the same time we consider the running of the shift pattern. It is no good creating the optimal shift pattern if once it is running; some of the shift workers fail to come in due to holidays and absence.

We assess each company separately based on personal circumstances to create the optimal solution. Ideally we set up a holidays included shift pattern so the staff get the best quality time off possible with no disruption to the operation. However this is not always possible, so we also help set up a holiday management plan for holidays excluded shift patterns. Thus we ensure fair procedures and minimise the disruption to the operation. They work well because the staff get good quality time off.

Cover arrangements are built into our shift patterns, so that absent staff can be replaced in a fair and reliable manner. We can also schedule in training in advance so that all of the shift workers are allocated training without disrupting the operation.

Variable Workload

Some operations can have unforeseeable variations in the workload. The workload for a harbour for example is dependent upon the ships docking times. Therefore they require a flexible system where staff can go home when they are not needed but come in or work longer shifts when they are needed. We have created shift patterns which give the company the flexibility they need while minimising the disruption to the staff by using a mixture of fixed and flexible shifts.

Workforce management is not just about scheduling the workforce but managing them. The operation needs to be fair and efficient  but also easy for a manager to operate. The best manager is one where the operation will run smoothly without them, and the best operation is one with the flexibility to adapt quickly to change. Our shift patterns will help you have the best operation possible.

If you would like a shift pattern tailored to your personal requirements, why not contact us today and reduce your overtime bill! Email us at or call us on +44 (0)1636 816466

How many staff do I need on at what times?

This is all about assessing your workload. Once you have your workload you can convert it into man hours. For a flat workload, you just need to know how many staff you need on at all times. If you have a time independent workload, you need the overall yearly workload. However if you have a variable workload, you need to make an assessment of the workload for every hour of every day.

E.g. if you have a factory and you want a production line with five stations to always be filled then you need five staff on at all times. This is then convert into man hours, so five people means five man hours. You then take the number of hours you want it to be operational (365 * 24 = 8,760) and multiply it by the man hours per hour giving a workload of 43,800 man hours per year.

To calculate your workload you can either attend our workload training course or have us assess your workload as part of our bespoke consultancy.

Books written by Dr Angela Moore

Variable Staffing Profile

How many staff do you need?

Why is there always a queue when you want to get something done quickly during your lunch break? It's because we need more staggered lunch breaks and services need to have more staff available during heavy work periods.

Staggering breaks is easy; you need to build in the breaks as part of the planning process when managing the workload. Sometimes you could say that breaks will be taken as the workload allows. This works well with responsible staff and an unpredictable workload. Most workloads are predictable. So breaks can be worked in during the slow periods so that all staff are well rested and ready to work during the busy periods.

Retail Workload

Let's take a typical retail workload. Typically the workload builds up during the day with a peak around lunchtime and then reduces in the afternoon. Depending on opening hours and what is being sold, there may be a peak in the morning when people drop in before work or a peak in the afternoon when people stop by on their way home. The graph shows one such workload. The bars represent the shifts (5 in all) where they all start at 08:00 and finish at 20:00. They all have two 30 minute breaks but because they are staggered, only one is off at a time. Breaks are also outside of the busy periods. The black line shows the requirement, five are required during the morning, lunch time and in the evening.

Now breaks can be built in so that during peak periods all of the staff are available to serve. During slower periods they each have a break in turn. Then each day the breaks are swapped around so that the system is fair. It is important to remember that everyone is entitled to a 20 minute break after six hours of work. So if everyone was on the same eight hour shift, then the breaks have to start between the third and sixth hour of the shift to be within the working time directive.

Split breaks may also be more beneficial to your staff than one long break, from a fatigue point of view, three twenty minute breaks can be better than one long break. Just a fifteen minute break can return a person's fatigue levels to where they were at the start of the shift. So if you want your staff to be alert and minimise mistakes consider more frequent shorter breaks.

Creating a Shift Pattern

Would you like a tailor-made shift pattern that perfectly matches your requirements?

You can save money and be more productive with a new shift pattern

Managing a Shift Pattern

Managing a shift pattern can be easy if you plan ahead.

Manage holidays, sickness and training effortlessly.

Negotiating a Shift Pattern

If you find the right shift pattern then you just need to implement it.

Do you know how?