Split Shifts

Flexible hours are a common perk of shift work, & split shifts are no exception. With the flexibility of split shifts, staff has time. Does it work for you?
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: March 1, 2023
  • 5 Minutes
split shifts in the UK explained by Papershift

Scheduling is a tricky thing to get right for many companies. Split shifts, that are working multiple shifts on a given day with a break in-between, may help reduce the complexity of timetabling staff as well as reducing employee burnout, increasing profits and productivity, and providing better work coverage. 

But what exactly are split shifts and how can a business implement them successfully? In this guide, we will answer these questions and many more.

Let’s begin.

What is a split shift?

The concept of split shifts is one that is fairly simple to understand, although there are some complicated parts.

For a shift to be considered “split,” there needs to be a gap between the two halves of the shift an employee is scheduled to work within a single day. For example, an employee could work from 8am-12pm before returning to work between 3pm-8pm to finish their shift. 

What industries generally employ split shifts?

Operating split shifts isn’t a good match for all industries. For example, if your business is busy from opening to closing, you may not be able to implement this type of schedule.

On the other hand, if you run a business where work increases during a particular time of the working day, you may find that splitting shifts gives you the staff coverage you need. 

The main industries that will often see a benefit from splitting shifts are:

  1. Restaurants
  2. Bars
  3. Hotels
  4. Events
  5. Data entry
  6. Call centres
  7. Bus drivers
  8. Health and fitness venues (for example, gyms)

Keep in mind that these are just examples of industries that have been seen using split shifts. This is not a definite list and not every business in these industries use split shifts.

Here is an example of a split shift schedule

When it comes to scheduling, there are often no specific “time slots” to choose from. This is where the hard work comes into play. You have to find a split shift that suits the needs of your company. An example of what a split shift schedule could look like is given below:


Busy periods are the morning and evening (think Personal Trainer in a gym)

Split shift part one: 5am – 10am

Split shift part two: 3pm – 8pm

What are the benefits of split shifts for businesses?

Benefits of a split shift can include reduced staff burnout, increased productivity, better coverage, and improved financial control. Let’s have a look at these in more detail:

a. Reduce staff burnout

Burnout plays a huge factor in the success and failure of any business. Keeping employee burnout at a low is something every company owner should strive for.

Split work guarantees a certain amount of time off throughout the day. This gives employees time to recoup and recharge, a great way to reduce burnout.

b. Increased productivity

When a business uses a traditional scheduling system, they may find that employees have times where productivity levels decrease. This could be due to the fact that they generally spend a long time in the office.

Split shifts could increase productivity as it allows employees to get more time away from their desk.

c. Better schedule coverage

Staff coverage is often difficult to come by. With a split shift, businesses can alleviate some of the stress of ensuring that staff are available exactly when they are needed, whether that be during the morning rush or the evening when bookings increase.  

d. Better financial control

A big incentive for swapping to split shifts is that it can help lower the cost of staffing. Understanding the hours where a business needs more coverage is essential to being profitable. Getting staffing levels just right will save precious pennies in the long run.

What are the benefits to employees of split shifts?

For staff to buy into any shift system, there must be benefits to them. Here are a few ways that split shifts can help staff in their day-to-day life:

a. More time to run errands

Errands often seem like they control our lives, but there is never enough time in a day to get them all done. Operating on a split shift provides staff with the freedom to get personal jobs done at times that are often convenient to them. 

b. More flexibility in hours

Flexible hours are a common perk of shift work, and split shifts are no exception. Working traditional shifts could mean giving up time with friends and family. With the flexibility of split shift, staff have extra time to schedule out of work activities.

What are the cons of implementing split shifts for businesses?

No schedule system is perfect for the employer or employee. There will always be variables that don’t suit either party. So, if you are looking into implementing a split shift at your place of business, you need to understand the potential issues. Here are a few to consider:

a. Inconvenience when commuting

One of the major downfalls of split shifts is the amount of commuting required. Split shifts mean that staff may be required to drive from work to home (and back again) on multiple times each day.

b. Fluctuating schedules

If a business isn’t careful, they may find themselves having issues with employees’ work hours fluctuating throughout the week.

Peak periods can be different from day to day, meaning employees could end up being yanked around different hours throughout the week, which could cause emotional and physical stress.

c. Feelings of “never leaving”

Split shifts, if not handled correctly, can lead to staff feeling as if they are still “working”, even when on the break between shifts.

Employers need to make sure they don’t take advantage of staff when they are between the two parts of their split shift and ensure that they get a complete break from work. 

Any tips for implementing a split shift pattern?

Our main tip for implementing any complicated scheduling solution is to have the right tools for the job. Many businesses still use spreadsheet software, such as Excel, to manage their team’s schedule. This can be a labour-intensive process. By using specialist employee scheduling software, like the one we provide at Papershift, a business can save hours of manpower each week.

With our best-selling scheduling software, any business can have a split shift schedule ready to go in a matter of minutes. Check it out elsewhere on our website.

In conclusion

Split shift schedules give businesses and staff the flexibility to achieve all their goals. And implementing one is easy if you have the right tools.

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Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)