Friday, 7 August 2015

How can you have 12-hour shifts on a 37.5 hour week?

The other day I was telling one of my friends about my day. I was happy because I’d been working on a holidays included shift pattern, which can be so much fun to create. There is so much potential with the way that the shifts can be organised, so you can create shift patterns that help people have a better work/life balance. You get to think about when and how people can take a holiday and how they would like to work shifts.
So I was telling her that a 37.5 hour week with 12-hour shifts means that they get loads of time off. Then she said “How can you have 12-hour shifts on a 37.5 hour week?” Well that threw me. I didn’t know what she was asking till she explained “12 doesn’t go into 37.5.”
Then it hit me, she was looking at a shift pattern through her experiences on an office hours arrangement. It was a question that loads of my clients have asked me in the past too, but I never understood what they were asking. In the past I just showed my clients the math and you can’t argue with math. However I never really explained, so let me now.
The length of the shift has nothing to do with the contracted hours per week. I know that statement doesn’t make much sense but it’s true. When I create a shift pattern I do not come at it from the perspective I have so many hours how do I organise them. I come from the angle of what work do I have to do. Then organise the shifts around the workload.
The length of the shift is contingent on;
  • The type of work required,
  • The legal constraints,
  • The staff’s expectations and restrictions,
  • The company’s rules,
  • The workload requirements.

I take all of these into consideration and create the shifts to match the workload while ensuring that none of the shifts are too long or too short. The contracted hours don’t come into my calculations at all.
Once I have the workload covered with the shifts, I then use the contracted hours to calculate how many staff are needed in each skill to cover the workload. If you would like to know how to calculate the number of people your operation requires then read my ebook available now from Amazon:
So how can you have 12-hour shifts on a 37.5 hour week? You use averages!
A year has 52.14 weeks, therefore each person will work 1,955 hours per year. Using 12-hour shifts that’s 163 shifts or 3 per week on average. Using 8-hour shifts that’s 244 shifts or 4 or 5 shifts per week. You can do it with any shift length. The length of the shift has nothing to do with the contracted hours per week.
This is true within normal parameters, so for example if you made the shifts five hours long, nobody could do their contracted hours because they would need to work more than one shift per day. Plus it would make for a really awful shift pattern.
So if you want to go to 12-hour shifts but think like my friend that you can’t because 37.5 doesn’t divide by 12, don’t worry you can. Some weeks they will work 2 shifts, some weeks, 3 or 4, or 5, and then some weeks they will work none. The average over the year will be 37.5 hours per week. But in any particular week they will not be working 37.5 hours.

So here is a 12-hour shift pattern that gives an average over the year of 37.5 hours per week. Yet some weeks they work no hours. Some weeks they work 24 hours and in other weeks they work 60 hours.
This is based on the 232 shift pattern and very popular with shift workers.

If you would like help moving to a 12-hour shift operation then please contact us to find out more email  alec@visualrota.co.uk or call us on +44 (0) 1636 816 466

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