Types of Work Shifts

Fixed shift, flexible shift, rotating shift, split shift, or on-call shift schedule? Which shift type is suitable for your business goals? Read them in detail here and decide the best at your workplace.
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: April 1, 2022
  • 3 Minutes
shift types like fixed shift, flexible shift and more

What is a work shift?

Work shift is the distribution of work or business tasks for an employee. It is distributed between agreed workdays and free days. Such a sequence of work and free days is called a shift plan. There are many types of work shifts. Companies choose their work shift types based on their business goals and the nature of business.

Let’s take examples to understand this better.

  • Production business – the business goal is continuous output. Thus, they are more likely to choose shift types which offer uninterrupted man-hours.
  • Fine dine restaurant business – the business goal is lunch and dinner service. Thus, the business is more likely to choose a split schedule shift type.

What are the most common types of work shifts?

The list of shift types is ever-evolving. Shift or rota planners have the need to be creative to accommodate employee needs. They create shift schedules that optimally meet employee needs as well as business goals. Here a the most commonly practiced work shift types –

  • Fixed shift schedule
  • Flexible shift schedule
  • Rotating shift schedule
  • Split shifts
  • On-call shift schedule

Let’s have a brief understanding of each one of them.

Fixed Shift schedule.

As the name suggests, it has a consistent schedule. There are many types here as well. Such as the first shift or day shift (between 9 AM to 3 PM). Second shift or afternoon shift (between 11 AM and 5 PM). Third shift or graveyard shift (between 11 PM till the wee hours of the morning). Even a fixed weekday or weekend shift is also part of a fixed shift schedule.

Flexible Shift schedule.

This is less rigid in comparison to the fixed shift schedule. Employees are expected to work on a few fixed shifts in a week. After honoring such fixed shifts, employees are free to complete the rest of their target hours at their own flexible timings. This allows employees to attend to personal work and help their daily family needs. Such a schedule is, of course, mutually accepted between the employer and the employee.

Rotating Shift schedule.

Plenty to discuss here. It is a cyclical shift schedule. Either weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Occupations such as construction workers, roadwork, power plants, hospitality positions, production floors, etc., adopt such a method. They include various shift types like 3-day shift plans, 4-on-4-off shift plans, 5-day shift plans, continental plan, 12-hour shift schedule, 24 / 7 shift plans, etc. A detailed list is available on Wikipedia here.

Split Shift schedule.

Discussed above for the restaurant example. The employees need to be available during lunch and dinner hours. However, they can be free between such work periods. They can attend personal work after the lunch shift and be back for the dinner shift.

On-Call Shift schedule.

As the name suggests, workers need to be available on call. These are unpredictable shifts. It does not have a fixed schedule. Occupations that involve responding to emergency situations adopt such shifts.

How are such shifts types decided and scheduled?

It is determined by business goals. To help you schedule such shifts faster and keep the employees informed of such shifts, we recommend investing in a good shift scheduling software.

What is the healthiest work shift-type?

The answer can be objective. It depends on the age of the employee. Fitness history and health hazards also play a vital role in determining it. However, the sleep metric is often measured as a means to ensure employees do not burn out.

How to choose the right shift scheduling software?

We have got you covered. It can be a tricky thing if you do not choose the right shift planning software for your needs. It can also be very costly for your business. The right shift planning software needs to do the following –

  • Allow rota planners and shift planners flexibility to create shifts.
  • Flexibility to include employee special requests.
  • Allow rota planners to respond to last-minute shift changes or shift absences
  • Help faster communication to employees on shift schedules and shift changes

We have consolidated more information on our guide to choosing the right shift planning software here.

Papershift is Europe’s best workforce planning software. It is loved by over 200,000+ HR managers. We also urge you to book a free demo appointment with us to take a look at different possibilities to manage shifts with ease.

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Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

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 :-)