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Shift Change Efficiency

How much money does your company lose in unnecessary payroll dollars due to inefficient shift changes? Whether you are in the retail sector making store shift changes, or the wholesale sector making driver changes, the shorter this window of duplicate employee hours, the better your company’s profitability. Use the following process to become more efficient.

Measure existing shift change time – Any time you want to improve a process, begin with measurement. Using time sheets, calculate the number of minutes your company loses daily to duplicate personnel during shift changes. For instance, you may find that each store shift change is taking 45 minutes. Now translate this knowledge to an annual dollar cost.

Let’s use an example of three shifts per day and two employees per shift. This would be six people per day at 45 minutes or 270 minutes per day. At 270 minutes per day for 365 days a year, we multiply for a total of 98,550 minutes or 1,642.5 hours per year. At $7.00 per hour, the annual cost is just under $11,500 per unit. This number will serve as incentive to make a change!

Flowchart the shift change process – You cannot set a shift change time goal without fully understanding exactly what needs to happen during that shift change. Gather a team of employees to flowchart step by step what needs to happen for a successful shift change.

Schedule all steps for optimal efficiency – Once each and every step is recorded, organize a time line for steps that can be done prior to the new shift employee arriving to work. Most shift change delays are due to the new shift waiting on the old shift to complete processes. If some of these processes can be completed earlier, prior to the new staff arriving, the replacement staff will not be kept waiting.

If staff tells you they cannot do anything earlier in the day, find out why that is. You may need to actually work with them for a day to understand the work flows, but don’t accept “can’t” in their vocabulary! You are seeking solutions!

Set realistic goals – After flowcharting and scheduling the steps, mutually set realistic goals with the staff. Although you may want a 50% reduction, they may only be able to see success at a 25% reduction. Use the 25%. Once they achieve that goal, they may see possibilities for further reduction, but it’s important they believe the goal is attainable.

Monitor results – As you implement the new shift change procedures, monitor and report the results. Small incremental improvements are rewarding.

Give and receive feedback – As with any new process, your first pass may not be perfect. Keep the lines of communication open. Modify your plan as needed.

Celebrate success – As each unit achieves their goal, publicize and celebrate their achievement. Consider a bonus pool funded with a portion of the savings to reward the achievers.

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