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6 Min. Read

What Is a Rotating Shift?

What Is a Rotating Shift?

Scheduling employee hours can be difficult and time-consuming. Rotating shifts can help make things easier.

Does your business have set hours? Do you open and close at the same time each day? Or do you have varying business hours depending on what else is happening? Are you open for 24-hours a day?

Regardless of how you structure your business hours, trying to schedule employee hours can be a time-consuming task. You have to ensure that enough employees are working during specific hours. Not only that, but you also have to try and balance those hours so the same employees aren’t always working the exact same ones.

That’s where a rotating shift can come in and help make things easier. Rotating shifts are common in the emergency services and hospitality industries. For example, a restaurant might want to maximize their dinner service because that’s the period of time where they generate the most revenue.

Restricting employees to one shift or another can affect productivity and the ability to function properly. Rotating shifts provide an opportunity for schedules to become well-balanced. This allows all your employees the opportunity to cycle through different shift times.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

What Are Rotating Shifts?

Different Types of Rotating Shifts

Benefits of Using Rotating Shifts

Key Takeaways

What Are Rotating Shifts?

A rotational shift is a way of scheduling employee hours to follow a cycle. For example, a manufacturing company could set one group of employees on the day shift for two weeks. After those two weeks, they will switch with the other group of employees working the night shift. A swing shift can also be added if necessary.

Or, for another example, a company could set their shifts into two or three different shifts per day, week-to-week. One group of employees would work one week on the morning shift. Another group during the afternoon shift and another group works consecutive night shifts.

Then the rotating schedule would cycle. The morning shift would move to the afternoon shift, the afternoon shift to the night shift, and the night shift to the morning shift. Healthcare, transportation and construction are a few others that primarily run on shift work.

Different Types of Rotating Shifts

There can be different ways to set up rotating shifts depending on what works best for your needs. However, there are typically three different types of rotating shifts that you can implement.

1. Dupont Shift

If your business runs on a 24-hour schedule, the Dupont method could be the best solution for you. It works by using 12-hour shifts that are set up in a rotation. Employees are separated into four different groups who rotate through a four-week schedule. It can be broken into eight parts:

  • Four night shifts in a row
  • Three days off
  • Three day shifts in a row
  • One day off
  • Three night shifts in a row
  • Three days off
  • Four day shifts in a row
  • Seven days off

2. Pitman Shift

The Pitman shift schedule works in a similar way to the Dupont shift. Employees are split into four groups that work 12-hour shifts throughout a two-week cycle. It’s also commonly known as the “every other weekend off” type of schedule. It would normally look like this:

  • Two day shifts 
  • Two days off
  • Three day shifts
  • Two days off
  • Two day shifts
  • Three days off

The other three groups, or teams, would follow the same pattern. But would fill in the gaps depending on the shift before them. For example, the second group would go like this:

  • Two night shifts
  • Two days off
  • Three night shifts
  • Two days off
  • Two night shifts
  • Three days off

3. 2-2, 3-2. 2-3 Shift

Again, similar to both the Dupont and Pitman shifts, this schedule uses four groups who work a 12-hour shift over a four-week cycle. Your employees will basically split all of the shifts between day and night or evening shifts. It would look something like this:

  • Two day shifts in a row
  • Two off days
  • Three day shifts in a row
  • Two off days
  • Two day shifts in a row
  • Three off days
  • Two night shifts in a row
  • Two off days
  • Three night shifts in a row
  • Two off days
  • Two night shifts in a row
  • Three days off

A lot of employees benefit from this type of schedule since they never actually have to work more than three consecutive days in a row. However, it can also cause a few challenges to be aware of. Employees will end up working over 60-hours during one week. And switching between the day and night shifts can have a negative effect on sleep patterns and overall mental health.

There are many other types of rotating shift schedules that you can use depending on the industry that you're in and your business needs. But the three different types of schedules outlined above provide a good overview to get started.

Benefits of Using Rotating Shifts

Change can often be a good thing and providing your employees with more flexibility can be a big benefit. It can be easy for an employee to fall into bad habits or bad routines. That can affect their overall productivity but it will also affect your bottom line.

Using rotating shifts provides more variety and an equal scheduling system for everyone involved. Not working the same set schedule week after week will help to keep your employees enthusiastic about what they do. They can avoid sleep deprivation and easily work around their social life. Plus, balancing your employees to work across all shifts will contribute to the overall customer experience.

Key Takeaways

Balancing a regular type of schedule is hard. Having to take into account individual circumstances and availability can make it even tougher. And figuring out how to implement a rotating shift schedule can be even harder.

However, using rotating shifts can contribute to your overall business operations. And the happiness of your employees can increase since everything becomes equal and no one ends up suffering in the long run. The best thing that you can do to get started is get some feedback directly from your employees. And to help even more, you can implement the use of employee scheduling software. This can help with balancing business demands with an employee's personal life.

Maybe they are enticed by the opportunity of more flexibility. Or perhaps they are stuck in their ways and prefer a fixed schedule. Being transparent helps with employee satisfaction, even if they work a closing shift, irregular shift or a weekend shift. Use the information outlined above to determine which schedule type will work best for you.

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