1 Year, 4 Experts, and The Future of Shift Work

by Katie Sawyer, 4 minutes read
HOME blog 1 year 4 experts and the future of shift work

Flexible schedules? Job security? COVID-19 safety precautions? What matters most to the everyday heroes — the shift workers pouring your coffee, helping someone who is sick, and stocking the shelves?

In a unique roundtable discussion, we asked four industry leaders what it takes to create a world-class, people-first business. You can watch the full roundtable discussion here. From the psychology behind job security to the impact of COVID-19, read on to learn about what to expect in 2021 to keep hourly businesses staffed just right.

With all the challenges people have faced this year, what’s something you think we should all remember?

"I think for most industries, staff are the heroes. And it's not just one-offs. It’s not just healthcare staff. It’s the person who drives that bin lorry and empties the bins. Or someone at a care home or a hospital. And also all of the people who make sure that you can still keep on operating safely and in the right way. They are heroes as well, and I don't think we should forget them."

Navjot Singh, Director, Mulberry Court Healthcare

According to a recent survey of more than 1,400 shift workers, job security is a major concern. How can managers address this, and other issues, employees may be facing?

"One of the big things I've noticed and have started to really to get a picture of is the mental health of staff. They’ve already been through a lot of financial challenges. Their life had been turned upside down. I think that managers’ ability to help with that has suddenly become a bigger issue than ever. It's a skill you need to have. And I think that is a potentially big skill gap. I'm involved with a couple of projects where we're trying to help managers to deal with this. And it's not only their own mental health — it’s also their staff and how they deal with that when they come to work."

Michael Tingsager, Founder, Hospitality Mavericks

What changes have you seen in terms of your existing staff and your ability to recruit in the future?

"First, employees were anxious, especially as you started to furlough. But things eased as sales increased. We've had our summer peak and we've now come into winter peak. Because of that, we've actually just been through a recruitment drive and just taken on a hundred new people. Unfortunately, a lot of people lost their jobs or were made redundant elsewhere — but it’s an opportunity for us to offer them a new job."

Kirsty Robinson, People Operations, END. Clothing

What are the opportunities and challenges you see for employers in offering support for career development for shift workers?

"The challenge is really in setting up the infrastructure and transparency to offer career development for this cohort in an economically viable way. With the permanent worker market, we have all sorts of tools that are used — from e-learning to online and offline coaching to development programs. All because the ROI is there and it’s a simpler proposition economically. If you contrast that with the shift work cohort, there's usually a distinct lack of that type of capability for the tools and for learning and for career pathing overall.

So I think it is incumbent on the tech industry to come up with realistic and viable solutions that are affordable for businesses, given the wage levels. And really to focus not just on skills, but on behavioral competencies and engagement. I think there is also an opportunity to educate budget holders about the potential lost opportunity and economic impact of not having the right skills and the right behavior in the right place at the right time. So if you think about a typical front of house business and a significant bit of demand, how quickly is that operator able to get through it, and what is the overall customer-centricity that they're able to bring to that? And therefore, how much repeat business might you get out of it?"

David Kelly, General Manager EMEA, Deputy

What is a key trend for 2021?

"If you take any positive about a horrible situation like a global pandemic, it’s that we’re resetting the way we do things. I think the industry has, for too long, taken a very industrial approach to management. That means it’s not always interesting to be a front line employee or shift worker. Moving forward, businesses will need to want not just to make a profit, but to make an impact, a positive impact, on their people, their communities, and the planet. Otherwise, nobody will want to work there. And to do that, businesses need to find whole new ways of working. Technology is going to be key. We will see a much more digital workforce than you see today."

Michael Tingsager, Founder, Hospitality Mavericks

Start the new year off with fresh ideas

As 2020 comes to a close, you’re already making your list and checking it twice to get ahead of the work.

Download The 2020-2021 State of Shift Work Report to learn a few trends and tips for making the next year the best one yet.

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