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Study explores whether 8-hour shifts or 12-hour shifts are more effective for employers

For the most part, employers are always willing to consider implementing measures that could potentially increase productivity, improve worker safety/morale and lower legal costs. Such measures could include anything from increased safety audits and safety protocols to flexible scheduling and wellness benefits programs.

One measure in particular that many employers have likely considered but been somewhat hesitant to consider implementing is a switch from an 8-hour shift to a 12-hour shift or vice versa. This is completely understandable given the risks involved. Will production actually increase? Will the level of work injuries increase temporarily or permanently? Will morale suffer?

Interestingly, the business consulting group Circadian recently conducted a survey to determine whether an 8-hour shift or a 12-hour shift is actually better for employees.

The researchers initially determined that the majority of companies under study were evenly divided between the two shifts. Specifically, of the 400 operations they studied, roughly 34 percent had 8-hour shifts and 37 percent had 12-hour shifts.

They went on to determine that there is no definitive answer to the question of which of the two shifts is better. Specifically, they determined that the answer depends entirely upon a variety of factors unique to the individual employers, including the type of work being performed, the needs of the business, and the demographics/preferences of the work force.

They did conclude, however, that it was extremely important for employers to include their employees in discussions about a possible change in shift hours. The reason? It can go a long way toward universal acceptance and the smooth continuance of operations.

To illustrate, the survey discussed one plant where employees took part in the discussion about a shift change and the two sides negotiated an agreement whereby in exchange for moving to a 12-hour shift, employee start times would change, an extra break was added and better meal services provided for those who worked nighttime hours.

Conversely, the survey discussed one plant where workers were left out of these conversations. However, the employee response to the shift change proved so overwhelmingly negative that it was ultimately abandoned.

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


EHS Today, "Which is better: 8-hour shifts vs. 12-hour shifts," Sandy Smith, August 1, 2012

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