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Managing Night-Shift Workers

Judy Artunian

Communication and motivation are critical to your night shift�'s success.

Working during the hours when the human body naturally wants to sleep can take its toll. Night-shift employees are subject to on-the-job fatigue and a sense of isolation that can lead to errors and high employee turnover rates. Managers can’t change their employees’ body clocks, but they can take steps to improve morale and productivity.  Among the most pressing night-shift management challenges:  

  1. Retaining experienced employees.
  2. Responding to workers’ questions and concerns during the hours when senior managers are unavailable.
  3. Improving communication with co-workers on other shifts.
  4. Boosting morale.

Consult a night-shift management expert

If you know you need to make changes but you’re not sure where to start, talk to the folks who specialize in helping companies with their night-shift issues.

Schedule with care

You need to take into account multiple factors, ranging from shift length communication issues, when developing a new shift schedule. Be sure to get input from workers and managers who will be affected by the new schedule.

Make it convenient to connect

Night-shift employees should be able to exchange work-related information with their colleagues on other shifts. They should also have easy access to company news and announcements.

Ask for feedback

You don’t really know how employees feel about their work environment unless you ask them. Give your night shift an opportunity to confidentially share their thoughts and ideas by surveying them once or twice a year.

Evaluate employee performance

Get a clear picture of your night workers’ job performance by conducting detailed performance reviews.

Celebrate milestones

Night-time workers often feel invisible to the rest of the company. Rectify that by reminding them that the company’s top dogs value their contributions. When an individual or a team meets a significant goal, ask an executive to present them with a gift that is a cut above the usual certificate or paperweight
  • Senior executives should visit the night shift about once a month to make company announcements, answer questions and offer encouragement. A representative from human resources should also be available so that employees can get their human resource-related matters resolved.
  • Keep your night workers busy. In companies where the night shift has little free time, absenteeism is 8% compared to nearly 11% at companies where free time is abundant.
  • Give night employees the option of attending your company’s evening parties and other work-related evening events. Set up a schedule that allows them to go in shifts and then return to work.
Image Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
Judy Artunian