5 Questions About the Shift Work Industry Managers Are Too Afraid to Ask

by Katie Sawyer, · 4 minutes
HOME blog questions about the shift work industry managers are too afraid to ask

Whether you manage a team at a small clinic, retailers in a hardware store, or hospitality workers in a brewery, 2020 changed the way shift work businesses operate.

When you’re trying to meet new demand — or figuring out how to keep your doors open — there are some topics you avoid.

But avoid some of these hot topics, and that could mean loss of business. Read on for five questions about the shift work industry managers are too afraid to ask and how to address them.

1. How concerned are my employees about their job security?

As economies ebb and flow, COVID-19 restrictions change, and other societal factors come into play, shift workers have a lot to juggle.

According to a recent survey of more than 1,400 shift workers, most shift workers (69%) are concerned about job security, though workers in the healthcare industry are less concerned. However, two-thirds of workers in the hospitality industry are concerned about job security.

You, your staff, and your business are better together. While there might be some uncertainty, you can still connect your team. Some of your team may be remote, some may be isolating, and, because of squad schedules, some may never see each other anymore. Share experiences to remind each other of the impact they make to your business and your customer’s lives.

2. What are the top reasons employees are concerned about their job security?

COVID-19 is the number one driver of this job security anxiety, with 75% of respondents saying it was their top concern. In the United Kingdom, that number goes up to 85%.

COVID-19 is a more common cause of job security concerns among women. 78% of women said COVID-19 was behind their job security fears, compared to 69% of men.

3. Do my employees actually like shift work? Why or why not?

The vast majority of shift workers — 96% — like some part of their job. On top of that, more than a quarter say they don’t have any dislikes for shift work. This is a big win for managers because they’re already starting on a high note. But if managers don’t know exactly what drives their employees, they won’t know how to keep their staff happy.

The top three benefits of shift work according to employees are flexible schedules (66%), the ability to fit in other commitments (60%), and the ease to work part-time (39%)

What are some things you can do to help? Offer flexible schedules so your team can attend to their other responsibilities — caring for children at home, attending virtual school, or even picking up hours at another job.

4. I try to accommodate my staff when they have shift requests, but do they even notice?

Responding to shift requests and creating a flexible working schedule is top of mind for shift workers. Two-thirds of shift workers list flexible schedules as their top perk.

So how can you ensure your team notices your focus on accommodating their requests? Build schedules that meet the needs of your employees. Allow your employees to trade shifts, with your approval, so they get the flexibility they want and you’re not left scrambling to find replacements at the last minute.

Take a cue from Matthew Bell, hotel operations director for Europe at citizenM. “Employees are happier when we have the right people on the right shift at the right time,” he says. “We get better productivity and guest satisfaction.”

5. Do my employees think they contribute to the success of our organization?

Despite the pressures of the COVID-19 crisis, and external stereotypes of this type of work, shift workers are aware of their contribution to their community and their organization. In fact, nearly 90% feel like they contribute to their organization’s success. Only 4% of respondents said they don’t feel like they contribute to their organization’s success, and only 7% had no opinion.

The best way to keep your team aligned, happy, and feeling connected to your business is to create a line of clear communication. Transparency is hard, and might seem unnecessary, but that will make a huge difference in how your staff are feeling.

One way to keep your staff feeling like they contribute to your organization’s success is to make sure your team knows what’s expected from them. You and your team should have clear alignment about what hours they need to work and what tasks they need to perform. Use your communication app — and turn on read receipts — so you have a clear record of communication.

On top of that, remind them what their jobs provide for customers. They were stocking shelves relentlessly when consumers were rushing to buy toilet paper. They were administering tests for patients who fell ill. They were supplying coffee for the parents dealing with their children’s distance learning.

Shift work is essential — and essentially powerful

Every delivery worker making at-home deliveries, every retailer selling home improvement tools, and every cook packaging meal kits. Shift workers are essential to helping communities thrive.

To learn more about the current state of shift work, and learn exclusive tips on how to keep your team motivated during uncertain times, download The 2020/2021 State of Shift Work Report.

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