Variable work schedule and stress: how can your organization limit this?

girl checking her phone
It is no longer a surprise that employees with a flexible work schedule are more stressed than colleagues with a stable work schedule. In many sectors in Belgium, irregular work schedules are the standard and employees only get to see their work schedule a few days in advance. How can you, as a department head or personnel planner, reduce work stress for your staff?

Share work schedule as well in advance as possible

The most comfortable thing for staff is to know work schedules at least one month in advance. This makes it easier for them to reconcile their work and private lives. Who picks up the children from school when? How do I get to work? When can I plan my own doctor's appointments? On which weekends can I not practice my team sport?

Give staff the possibility to choose shifts themselves (self-rostering) or to indicate a colleague as a replacement

This is our most important recommendation. Let your staff decide on the work schedule by, for example, applying self-rostering. In this way, shifts can be made in mutual consultation with colleagues and the planner or head of department, if desired, only has a verifying role. By introducing self-rostering, your staff will have more say and the roster will be more attuned to the private lives of employees, which has an absolute positive effect on involvement, motivation and team spirit.

Of course a gradual transition is recommended in this case. The step to full self-rostering may be too big or too fast, both for the planner and the staff. Therefore, for example, start with a pre-defined schedule in which your staff can change shifts themselves, sign up for a reserve pool or digitally pass on vacations. After that, you can continue with making the night shifts available for self scheduling, and finally proceed to a complete self scheduling.

Make work grids rotate forward (clockwise)

By scheduling shifts "clockwise" the body recovers better after one or more night shifts. Your staff will work the morning first, then the afternoon and then the evening/night shift. In this way, the biorhythm of your employees will experience the least influence of the changing working hours. Moreover, you can reduce the number of night shifts in total, but also per person. There are often tasks that can be moved to the day shift, reducing the number of people working at night to a minimum. Finally, do not plan more than three to four consecutive night shifts for the same employee.

Make the work schedule available to your staff 24/7 and everywhere

Don't just display the work schedule on the work floor, but also provide a digital version so that the schedule is always available to everyone, both the planner and your staff. If you want to step up the game in this digitization process, you can also use specialized software to encourage your employees to set themselves as back-up and arrange vacations digitally.

Stress reduction goes beyond the work schedule: sound in body and mind

Night shifts are, understandably, often accompanied by coffee and energy drinks. Encourage staff to avoid those during the last two hours of the night shifts. As the caffeine remains in the body for a number of hours, the employee cannot sleep immediately upon returning home. Provide a number of healthy snacks, such as a fruit basket, and sufficient free drinking water to ensure that healthy alternatives are available. Sleeping well reduces stress.

That's why a powernap can work miracles. The optimal powernap does not take longer than half an hour. On top of the nap it is best to take an extra fifteen minutes to fully wake up again. In Beeple you have the option to enter different kinds of breaks. For example, staff can register powernaps themselves so the planner or head of department is informed.

Try our scheduling software

It has never been easier with our leading software.

Stay Updated Here

Get the latest news and updates from us

By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy.
Thank you!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.