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September 19, 2019Cart


by Fairfield County Business Journal

Andi Gray: Working the night shift

How much can this place produce without going to another shift — don’t have anything figured out for the night shift. When should we consider doing this, and what would be involved?

andi gray
Andi Gray

Thoughts of the Day: You’re smart to pay attention to one of the bigger fixed costs in any business, which is its cost of real estate and equipment. To operate on an extra shift, you’ll have several considerations to factor in. A set of reports will help you stay on top of what’s going on even when you’re not around. Look for someone on your day shift who’d be interested in developing as a supervisor and picking up extra pay to do so.    

When real estate and equipment sit idle, whether for vacations, down time for repairs or off-hour shifts, that’s wasted opportunity. Adding a second shift costs you less than you think, because you don’t have to pay for the costs of real estate and equipment — they’re already in place. If you don’t think you have enough work for a full second shift, start with a few evening hours and identify some of the staff that’s willing to work late to get out more production. 

When operating at night, it’s likely you’ll have to pay a premium to get people to work outside the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. standard work hours. You’ll need staff you can trust to effectively manage the work that has to be done, the people who will be doing the work and the equipment that will be in use as it’s unlikely you’ll be staying around for the full second shift. Pick a supervisor candidate with good training, communication and technical skills. Look to hire night staff with slightly higher-than-average production skills and use that staff to pump out work. 

Take additional safety precautions on the second shift. Statistics show that accidents are more likely to happen outside normal 9 to 5 work hours. People get tired, they rush, they have less supervision, etc. Whatever the cause, you want to do everything possible to ensure you have an accident free work environment. 

It gets especially tricky for the night shift if they come up with questions about specific customer orders or requirements because there will be no one around to ask until the next morning when they’re already home and in bed. Evening and nighttime staff will also have to make requests for equipment servicing, inventory ordering and shipping orders out to customers that have to be handled by people on the day shift. Set up a good communication system for the night shift to share information with daytime staff by email, internal messaging system or some other option.

Decide on what are the key things you need to know about what happens during the shift. Turn that into a report with boxes to fill in, so that your shift supervisor knows what’s expected for feedback. Leave room at the bottom of the report for notes on special circumstances. Make a schedule to stay late at least once a week to meet with your shift supervisor to talk about how things are going.          

Your best bet would be to find someone who is already familiar with how your shop works to head up the evening or night shift. Look at staffing the evening shift in part by asking employees on days if they might be interested in an opportunity to grow. Consider shifting employees onto “shoulder hours,” come in late during the day shift and stay over to work part of the evening shift. This will allow you to bridge some of the separation of the two shifts. 

Looking for a good book? Try “Factory Physics for Managers: How Leaders Improve Performance in a Post-Lean Six Sigma World” by Edward S. Pound and Jeffrey H. Bell. 

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc.,, a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics:  877-238-3535.