Tips on How to Schedule Rotating Shifts (With Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many firms have operations and business hours that necessitate employees to work outside of conventional work hours. These businesses frequently adopt rotating shifts to fulfil their staffing requirements. Implementing rotating shifts allows employees to learn about many aspects of the business while also helping managers meet production or service goals. In this article, we discuss the tips on how to schedule rotating shifts, the benefits and drawbacks of this scheduling approach and the different types of industries that adopt this model.

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How to schedule rotating shifts

If you're a manager or team leader, you may be interested in learning how to schedule rotating shifts. Rotating shifts are work schedules that alternate from one shift to the next regularly. An employee may be scheduled to work three-day shifts followed by three-night shifts. Businesses that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, employ rotating shifts to ensure they have sufficient coverage at all times. Day shifts, overnight shifts, night shifts and swing shifts are examples of specific shifts.

Shifts are typically eight to twelve hours long. Rotating shifts imply that over the week or month, all employees cover each type of shift. Managers typically strive to evenly divide shifts so that all workers work a variety of shifts. The particular timetable for rotating shifts varies depending on the industry, employer and standard business hours common in the field. Some employees may find it difficult to adjust to rotating shifts. Here are some guidelines on how to schedule rotating shifts:

1. Prepare the schedule in advance

Many managers plan their team schedules in advance so they can adjust their staffing needs accordingly. Typically, the manager creates the rosters at least a few days before and some managers might also do this on monthly basis. Consider allowing your team members to choose their preferred shift and strive to meet their wishes wherever possible. Also, try to honour requests for time off whenever feasible.

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2. Utilise scheduling tools

There are many scheduling or management tools out there in the market. These tools can help to streamline the scheduling process and avoid scheduling problems such as inadequate coverage or double-booking staff. Also, scheduling software is useful to establish set procedures for employees to change shifts.

3. Be flexible

There is inevitably some last-minute change in the schedule due to various reasons. When such a thing happens, communicate schedule adjustments and modifications repeatedly. It's also important to give notice as soon as possible, so the team members can have some time to adjust their personal schedules.

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What are the benefits and drawbacks of a rotating shift schedule?

The benefits and drawbacks of rotating shift patterns might differ depending on where you work and the responsibilities you have. These schedules are prevalent in sectors that conduct labour or offer services outside of conventional business hours because they serve to distribute non-standard business hour shifts evenly. Implementing this sort of plan is also beneficial in providing staff with fixed work shifts and ample recuperation time. There may be drawbacks to this work style, but managers typically mitigate them through improved communication and management.

The benefits of rotating shifts

If you want to understand more about the benefits of rotating shifts in the workplace, consider the following:

Additional learning possibilities

Rotating shifts can provide your team members with additional learning opportunities because they may learn new procedures based on when they work. These additional learning opportunities may arise as a result of the various jobs they manage on different shifts. An employee who has always worked in the middle of the day, for instance, may learn new closing or safety operating abilities when working at night. Allowing them to obtain skills and information is beneficial in assisting them in continuing to progress in their respective sectors.

Increased workplace involvement

Using rotational shifts might lead to increased workplace engagement since learning new procedures may motivate your team to collaborate more. For instance, if one team member has previously completed shift-specific responsibilities, but another has not, they may attempt to assist their fellow teammate. Employee cooperation can lead to higher workplace engagement since employees are more actively working together to achieve goals.

More equitable shift distribution

Rotating shifts may increase job distribution among your team because everyone works each time slot inside the timetable. This is especially useful for guaranteeing that no employee works the opening, closing or night shifts continually. Because rotating schedules are on a continuous cycle, you don't have to spend a lot of time thinking about how you're allocating shifts.

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Increased work variety

Because employees are typically responsible for different duties, rotating shifts can provide them with greater job diversity. Typically, the time of day you work might have an impact on the tasks you do while on duty. A construction worker, for instance, who works during the day may undertake different activities than a construction worker working at night. These variations might result from changes in the environment or other circumstances and job rotations can assist in offering workers diversity to keep them engaged. Increased attention from work variety may also increase productivity throughout your workforce.

The drawbacks of rotating shifts

You can refer to the below section for more information regarding rotating shift disadvantages and how to avoid them in the workplace:

Income fluctuation

Rotating employee shifts can also produce income changes, especially if they're hourly workers. This is possible since later shifts, such as night shifts, may pay more. Managers typically give extra money in these cases as an incentive to their workers to work outside of regular business hours. When working on a rotational schedule, these incentives might cause their salary to vary because they aren't constantly working the same shift hours.

Less regular constancy and stability

Employees may have less routine consistency with rotating shifts because their work schedule might fluctuate from week to week or month to month. There are several things you can do to assist establish routine consistency, such as designing rotational schedules to allow them to work shifts at various times. For instance, if an employee works the evening shift, you may rotate them to the afternoon shift and then the morning shift. Your team may adjust more quickly to schedule changes if you move them from shift to shift gradually.

You might keep rotations regular across pay periods to help make these changes less severe. During each pay period, you may require everyone on your team to perform an identical number of hours across all shifts. This allows them to have a stable income from payment to payday.

Fewer planning opportunities

Employees may have fewer possibilities to organise activities outside of work when their shifts alternate. One approach to assist your team members in obtaining these chances is to present them with their rotational schedules ahead of time. Although the timetables may differ, doing so allows them to recognise when they're working early on, allowing them to prepare for activities outside of work.

When should you adopt a revolving schedule?

Comprehending when to apply a rotating schedule is critical, especially for managers thinking about using one. Here are several industries that frequently utilise rotating shifts and the reasons why they may do so:


Rotating shifts can also assist in dispersing employee manufacturing shifts and gives your team the opportunity to do a variety of tasks. In the manufacturing business, the time of day might affect whether you're generating materials or assisting in the loading of products into shipment vehicles. Employees can gain new skills and diversity by participating in a range of duties during their rotating shifts. Variety in manufacturing is beneficial for increasing employee engagement and productivity since it provides employees with work that isn't repetitive.

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Rotating shifts is essential in aviation to allow personnel to rest and recuperate between shifts. This is especially crucial for pilots who fly passenger aircraft and need to get everyone to their destination safely. If you are a pilot, you may fly for one shift and then rest for the next. Having a balance like this is essential in providing better experiences for aviation staff and consumers.

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Medical and healthcare

Rotating schedules are prevalent in the healthcare industry to ensure proper coverage for all hours of the day. Nurses, nursing care assistants and emergency responders are examples of professions that may involve this type of schedule. This arrangement is critical for health care employees since patients frequently require staff in these areas to offer treatment 24 hours a day. Nursing home residents or emergency department visitors may require care at any time. Aside from patient care requirements, rotating shift patterns allow health care personnel to participate in both busy and calm shifts.

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Construction personnel may also adopt rotating shift patterns to spread night labour between teams. This is advantageous since various construction shifts may necessitate different responsibilities. If you're a road construction worker working at night, it is important to turn on all lights and be extra cautious of your surroundings because objects are more difficult to see in the dark. At day, you don't have these additional tasks. The distribution of these shifts among employees might also assist them in improving their communication, attention to detail and organisational abilities.

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