Variable work schedule and stress: how to limit it as Team Manager or Planner?

man having stress
It is no longer a surprise that employees with a flexible time table experience more stress than colleagues with a stable work arrangement. I rregular work schedules are the standard in many sectors in Belgium and a lot of employees even get to see their timetable only a couple of days in advance.

How can department heads or personnel planners reduce the work stress among their staff ?

Pass on the work schedule as long as possible in advance

The most comfortable option for the staff is to know the timetables at least 1 month in advance. That way, they can take into account their private matters: who picks up the children from school? How do I get to work at night when I do not have a personal car? When can I schedule my own doctor’s appointments? During which weekends do I have to skip my team sport?

Allow your staff to choose shifts themselves (self-scheduling) or to indicate a colleague as substitute

This is our most important tip. Let your personnel help decide in the work schedule by for exampling applying self-scheduling. That way, shifts can be completed by mutual agreement with the other colleagues and you as planner or department head only have a supervising function. By introducing self-scheduling , your staff has a say in your department, which definitely has a positive effect on the involvement and the team spirit.

We obviously recommend a gradual conversion in this case . The step to full self-scheduling is probably too big or too fast for both you and your personnel. That’s why you need to begin with allowing your staff to modify shifts themselves, giving themselves up for a backup group or transmitting holidays digitally. After that, you can continue by making only the night shifts available for self-scheduling, to finally proceed to a complete self-scheduling system.

Provide a power nap in the timetable

A power nap works magic, but be careful . The nap cannot last longer than half an hour and you better provide approximately 15 extra minutes to make sure that the employee is 100% awak e again. Through special software, your personnel can register these power naps themselves and you are st ay ing in control .

Make forward rotating work schedules (clockwise)

By scheduling shifts “clockwise”, the body recovers easier after one or more night shifts. So your staff first works the morning shift, th e n the day shift and th e n the evening/night shift. That way, the biorhythm of your personnel experiences the least influence from the varying working hours. In addition, you can decrease the number of night shifts in total, but also the night shifts per person . There are often enough tasks that can be moved to the day shift , as a result of which the number of people that work at night can be minimized . At last: do not schedule more than 3 to 4 consecutive night shifts for the same employee.

Make the timetable 24/7 and everywhere available for your staff

Do not only display t he work schedule on the shop floo r , but provide a digital version as well, so that the work ing hours are always available for everyone (both yourself and your personnel) . If you want to take a step further in this digitalization pro cess , you can also encourage specialized software to give themselves up as backup and transmit holidays digitally.

Provide healthy snacks and sufficient drinking water

At night, staff members sometimes do the m selves well on coffee and energy drinks. That’s okay of course, but try to stimulate them to not do this , especially during the last two hours of the night shifts. After all, t h e caffeine stays in their bodies for a couple of hours , as a result of which the employee cannot sleep immediately after return. Provide a number of healthy snacks, like a fruit basket, and enough access to free drinking water, so that healthy alternatives are available. Sleeping well = less stress!

Do you have more questions about work schedules and how to optimize them? Get you free demo today!

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