Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Proactive Absence Management

Absence costs money! In 2013 the UK alone lost 131 million work days due to sickness (UK Office of National Statistics). CBI in 2013 estimated the cost of absence in the UK to be £14bl. Now most companies’ approach to absence is to cover it at overtime, or having extra staff on shift to cover for an absence. Some companies even ignore the problem in the hope that if they don't manage it, it will go away. This is the most expensive option because what you don't control has a habit of running wild

Having extra staff on shift is not only expensive but also reduces productivity and leaves shift managers continually firefighting. When we have reviewed company’s productivity against the number on shift we have found that if there are too many people for the work then less work gets done. 
"Too many cooks spoil the broth!"
This is because no manager likes to see a worker standing around doing nothing. Plus no one likes to stand around doing nothing, it’s demoralizing, tiring and everyone who is working will hate you for it. So the manager will reorganize the work to suit the number of people there. This takes time and is not as efficient as if you always have the correct number available. 
Furthermore most companies never estimate the number who will be absent off shift correctly. They only use averages which are misleading, leaving most companies correctly staffed on only about one third of shifts (by using averages). On about two thirds of shifts they are either wasting money or losing money. So we created an approach which ensures that an operation always has the correct number of staff and only the correct number of staff on shift every shift.
Proactive Absence Management is about tackling absence head on. Most companies have no absence strategy, and those that do invariably use discipline and overtime to minimize the effect. This is both expensive and negative. Therefore our approach is to first of all estimate absence. So we look at historical data. The simplest statistic is Absence rate. Then using Dr Angela Moore’s statistical model (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S583GA0/) we can predict not only how much absence will occur but predict how many will be off each shift. 
E.g. if you have a 2.5% Absence Rate and 10 people using a shift pattern which scheduled them to work on 260 days/shifts per year you would expect to see; On 202 days you would expect no one to be absent. On 52 days per year you would expect one person to be absent and on six days per year you would expect two people to be off. Hence you can plan your absence procedures on a maximum of two people being off because it is highly unlikely that three people would be absent on the same day. So we set up the shift pattern to give two people on-call or two cover shifts each day to cover for absence. 
Ideally we would suggest using a holidays included shift pattern to maximize efficiency and minimize disruption to the operation. Then suggest that Banked Hours is used to provide the absence cover at basic rate not overtime rates. Obviously if you can cover the absence at basic rate this is cheaper than overtime, so there is a year on year significant cost saving. 
The result of this is that absence is covered in house at basic rate to minimize cost and ensure that the best people are there to maximize productivity. The procedures are created up front so that shift managers are not left firefighting day in day out. The shift workers never have to worry that they will be under or over staffed on shift, and this minimizes stress. The shift workers also have a shift pattern that gives them a good work/life balance. Oh and as a bonus if the Banked Hours system is operated correctly some companies can see a significant fall in their absence rate.
If you would like us to help you be proactive towards absence please contact us via email: alec@oranalysts.com or call for more information 0044 (0) 1636 816466

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