Rotating shift | Meaning and Definition

What is a rotating shift?

Rotating shifts are those shifts that change over time. An example may be a customer care executive who works 9 AM to 6 PM in the first-week shift and 12 AM to 8 AM in the second.

It’s difficult for an employee who is used to a fixed shift to comprehend a rotating shift. 

Over the years, research has claimed that rotating shifts result in depression, anxiety, weight gain, and mental illness in some cases. Some resources also linked rotating shifts with broken marriages and early death.

What is rotating shift work?

Rotating shift work is scheduled in a series of rounds that may change weekly or monthly. A shift seems to be good for one employee while bad for another employee.

For example- An employee works five days a week with two days off in two shifts. In the first week he works a day shift followed by two days off. Then another week he works in the night shift.

How to schedule employees for rotating shifts?

The way to schedule employees for rotating shifts purely depends upon the organization: number of employees, working hours, working culture. Then you can put the number of employees in different shifts creating continuity and stability of employees.

Finally determine the type of rotating shift you want for your organization

  • Frequent- An employee has to work night and day shift. This type of change is frequent.
  • Slow- Shift changes happen over the course of months.
  • Weekend- Employees take turns working weekend shifts.
  • Partial- Some employees will work on fixed shifts while others on rotating shifts.

Rotating shifts keep things in order. Variety of shifts provides a chance to employees to work with a diverse workforce. Night shift gives you a chance to experience a slower shift whereas day shift gives you a normal sleep schedule and time with your friends and family.

Types of Rotating Shifts

The rotating shifts may vary in nature. Some shifts work weekly while some work monthly.

Some of the common rotating shifts are:

1. The DuPont Shift

In a DuPont shift an employee works in a 

  • 4 shifts on/3 days off
  • 3 shifts on/1 day off
  • 3 shifts on/3 days off
  • 4 shifts on/7 days off

2. The Pitman Shift

In this type of rotating shift an employee gets every other weekend off, usually made up of 12 hours shift that looks like

  • 2 shifts on/2 days off
  • 3 shifts on/2 days off
  • 2 shifts on/3 days off

3. The 2-2-3-2-2-3 rotating shift

This is  a Pitman schedule variation that uses 12-hour shifts with a pattern of:

  • 2 shifts on/2 shifts off
  • 3 shifts on/2 shifts off
  • 2 shifts on/3 shifts off
  • and so forth

Once you complete the cycle, you’ll swap the days to nights and vice versa.

Benefits of Rotating shifts

Here are the benefits of working in rotational shifts. Without any further ado let’s dive deep into the benefits of rotating shifts.

1. Additional learning opportunities- Rotating shifts provides additional learning opportunities to the employees as they tend to learn more in various shifts as compared to a fixed shift.

2. More work variety- Rotating shifts offers various opportunities to learn and grow as employees are engaged in a variety of different tasks based on their shifts.

3. Better workplace engagement- Rotational shifts offer better workplace engagement of employees because learning new opportunities might motivate employees to work together more.

It also promotes work culture and leadership qualities.

4. Improvements in shift distribution- The distribution of work in various shifts is beneficial to ensure that no employees work in the same shift. There is a continuous cycle for shift assignment. 

For example- If an employee is working in a night shift, shift distribution ensures that the same employee is not working continuously in the same shift.

5. Evenly distributes talent and expertise- The crucial benefit of rotating shifts is that it evenly distributes talent across various shifts. 

Someone with special skills may be in demand for various projects. So shift rotation ensures that those employees can provide their expertise in every shift.

6. Increase operational efficiency- The greatest benefit of rotating shifts is to the company itself. Sure, rotating shifts boosts morale and keeps things on track.

With a balance shift you’ll see less errors and flaws.

Disadvantages of rotating shifts

Beyond a number of benefits, rotational shifts have a variety of disadvantages.

Some of the disadvantages of rotating shifts are:

1. Less routine consistency- Rotating shifts cause less routine consistency for the employees in the organization. However you can adopt certain ways in order to ensure consistency by planning a rotating schedule.

For example- If an employee is working in an evening shift you can rotate it timely to morning and night shift so that his body can easily adapt to changing work shifts.

2. Fluctuation of Income- Rotational shifts leads to fluctuation of income cycle in various shifts. An employee usually pays more for a night shift as compared to a morning shift because employees are working outside the business hours whereas they are paid less in normal working hours.

So an equal pay scale should be designed for employees working in different shifts.

3. Fewer opportunities to plan- When employees are working in various rotational shifts they have very few opportunities to plan out their whole needs. They pay less attention to their social life which ultimately leads to depression. 

4. Leads to depression and mental disorders- Rotational shifts lead to depression and mental disorders to an employee because sometimes their body can’t adapt with changing working hours which leads to various psychological and mental disorders.

As everything has its pros and cons, so is the case with the rotational shifts. Rotational shifts offer advantages as well as disadvantages.