Saturday, 21 November 2015

Would you work five consecutive 12-hour shifts for a week off?

A very popular shift pattern is one we have christened "554". On this one you would work two or three day shifts, then have a 24-hour break and work two or three nights shifts. So that is five consecutive shifts but there is a 24-hour break in the middle. Then you would have a four or five day break. Which is very similar to working continental shifts but with the advantage that this shift pattern is designed around the week. So it maximises your weekends off.
You would end up working (on average) about 183 shifts per year before holidays and have 26 5-day breaks and 13 4-day breaks per year. That’s a lot of time off. Then you take your holidays.

Most companies use a holidays excluded shift arrangement. Which means that you select your holidays in accordance with a set of rules. You know the sort; “first come first served” and “a maximum of two off on any shift” are popular rules. However on this type of arrangement everyone is disadvantaged.
  • Firstly you are restricted by everyone else. So if you want to have your holidays during school holidays because that’s when you can go away with the children, you have to be the first one to request those dates. So you have to be organised, no last minute breaks for you. And if someone else has booked a single day off in the middle of your ideal holiday, it will be refused.
  • Secondly the system is unfair. Someone who has been with the company for years can look ahead and block book their holidays. Any one new to the group is at the back of the queue for booking holidays because they will not be the “first to come and request a holiday”.
  • Thirdly you will end up working more weekends. If everyone gets to select their holidays and up to two people are allowed off on every shift, what happens when no one books a holiday? You end up working a shift which you didn’t have to. These shifts could be at night, at weekends or on a Bank Holiday.
  • Fourthly it is more stressful. Have you ever gone to work and wondered if you will be over worked again because you’re understaffed? It’s so stressful working when the operation is understaffed. No one has a proper job, because you are all doing your own job and a bit of someone else’s. From the moment you get to work, you are behind and by the end you are just exhausted. Sometimes it can be exciting and exhilarating, knowing that you are managing a crisis, but wouldn’t your life be better without the stress?
  • Fifthly you could end up standing around doing nothing. If no one books a holiday on a shift, then you end up with more people in than there is work. So what does the extra person do? Stand in the corner? Not very nice for anyone. They feel undervalued and bored. Being bored is so exhausting, especially for 12 hours! And what about everyone else on that shift? If you’re working and someone else isn’t, it feels vastly unfair.

Now there is an alternative to a holidays excluded shift pattern. That is a holidays included shift pattern. On a holidays included shift pattern everyone gets all of their holidays included in the shift pattern at the start of the year.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “That doesn’t sound very fair. What if I don’t like the time I have off, or I need the first week in August because I have a time share?”

Well on a holidays included shift pattern, the holidays are rostered in a very fair manner. Everyone is rostered off in turn. They are designed with you in mind. So if you want your time off in blocks of a week, that’s what you get. You want a two week break in the Summer, that’s what you get. Most shift workers once they experience a holidays included shift pattern love it.
There are three main reasons for a holidays included shift pattern, firstly there’s the privacy, then you get better quality time off and lastly it minimises stress and fatigue.
  • A holidays included shift pattern is very private. Have you ever felt that you had to tell your boss your entire life story to explain why you need a holiday? Well that is no more. On a holidays included shift pattern you don’t have to tell anyone anything. You just go. Your time off is you own.
  • You get better quality time off on a holidays included shift pattern. Your time off is designed to be long enough to recover from your previous shifts and still have time to get away, do the garden or just spend a few days in the beach with a book.
  • You get more holidays on a holidays included shift pattern. I know that sounds strange. How can you get more holiday? Have you ever studied your shift pattern and seen that some shifts will give you more time off? Well that’s what happens on a holidays included shift pattern, the holidays are put with your rostered days off to give you more time off for less.
  • You get better Summer holidays on a holidays included. During the Summer everyone wants that two week break. The weather and school terms make it a prime holiday season. Fitting in everyone's holiday, so that they can get a two week break is hard work, when people can select their own holidays. The only way it works is if everyone gets together and negotiates their time off. Not something you want to do every year. But on a holidays included shift pattern it is a normal part of the shift pattern. Everyone can have that two week break.
  • However the main reason for a holidays included shift patterns is that it is so relaxing. Everyone knows who will be on each shift. This means that you never have to dread going into work and finding that half the shift failed to turn up. On a holidays included everyone who should be in will be in. So every shift; no one gets left out, no one has to be stressed. Your manager can ensure that every one is in with the right skills, and then match the work to the people. Something that is impossible on a holidays excluded shift pattern because no one knows from one shift to the next who will turn up.

And if you were wondering what the best holidays included shift pattern looks like, then it’s the 554. On the 554 holidays included you can work four or five shifts and have a week off. Here is an example of the 554 holidays included. This is a typical shift pattern that you would work as a full time equivalent on 12-hour shifts.

On this version you get about 29 weeks off. In the summer the shifts have been changed so you give up two normal weeks off and get an 18-day break.
Oh and if you don’t like your weeks off, then you can swap shifts, so that you can tailor your shift pattern to your own life style.

If you want to introduce a holidays included shift pattern to your department, tell your manager about C-Desk Technology and direct them to our website at or email at or our book explaining a holidays included shift pattern is available on Amazon

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Christmas Party

When it comes to Christmas there is always lots going on. It’s a time for families and friends to get together and celebrate the ending of one year and the beginning of the next. So everyone likes to get Christmas off. Many businesses close for Christmas, they have a Christmas shutdown. But not all companies can do this, and not all departments enjoy a Christmas shutdown.
Essential operations, like hospitals, police, security, fire, ambulance, news, TV, power stations, phones, call centres, restaurants, hotels etc. cannot close over Christmas. Some can’t even go down to a skeleton crew.
So companies operate shift systems that go over the Christmas period and have special Christmas rotas. These allow some people to be off at Christmas and it rotates so if you work Christmas one year you get it off the next etc.
The Snow Queen's table photographed at 
Waddesdon Manor
But then there is the Christmas Party. Every company, or department like to have a little get together. Unfortunately a business that doesn’t stop for Christmas, won’t be able to stop for a party. So how do you get everyone to the party?
  • You could have two parties
  • Ask for volunteers to work
  • Give people a bonus for working and missing the party
  • Give people a day off in lieu for working that day and missing the party
  • Hold it over a shift handover time. E.g. party starts at 5pm till midnight with a shift change at 8pm every one can go to half
  • Alternate years so if you go one year you have to work the next
  • You could even think out of the box, so have a celebration at work and encourage your staff to invite their families. Then have everyone alternate between celebrating and working. Or if you can’t have visitors on site, why not set up a video link in the break room so that your staff can chat to people at the party during their breaks.

Christmas is coming,
The Goose is getting Fat,
Have you put you name in the Old Man’s Hat?
If you’ve off for Christmas, Lucky Old You!
If you stuck working, God Bless You!