Finding out all there is to know about 12 hour shifts.

The average ‘project’ costs associated with working out the change to a 12 hour system comes in at around £17.9k per month. Of course I’m not talking about an individual ‘doodling’ around with various 12 hour shifts in spreadsheets. I am talking about a reasonably sized organization of around 250 staff, analysing the increased effects of fatigue and risk, the impact on operations, and the well being of the workforce. Probably it will be ‘project managed’, and involve staff representation working alongside a business analyst. The downside of course is when the project team also ‘doodle around’ with 12 hour shifts in spreadsheets – orders of magnitude more expensive with the same end result.

One advantage of having your own software is that you can use it to solve these kinds of problem. Recently we had the opportunity to do just that. Having discussed the ’12 hour shift’ problem we became aware they were always talking about two 12 hour shifts – seems reasonable enough after all there are only 24 hours in a day.

A major  working drawback with 12 hour shifts for many managers is they think it can only produce a ‘flat’ staff supply i.e. given the same number of staff on each 12 hour shift.

Using the Schedule24 Excel Add-in we started generating multiple 12 hour shifts and identified 4×12 hour shifts that delivered the variable staff supply required: 06:00-18:00; 08:00-20:00; 10:00-22:00; and 19:00-07:00. This included optimising rest periods and chronobio factors to tune out the worse impact on the ‘internal clock’ or circadian rhythms. Management had estimated an increase of around 30% in staff costs for a variable shift pattern when in fact their’ fears’ were unfounded with a 0.3% increase.

So what’s the point of all this. Well it’s about avoiding a £17.9k overspend with the benefit of an Excel Add-in enabling 30 minutes of insight.

An example of the Schedule24 Excel Add-in at work:

A perspective of the 12 hour shift can be found here: The Death of the 8 hour Shift.

John Frehse is Chief Strategic Officer for consulting firm Core Practice, New York; and a frequent speaker and author on labor management topics.

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