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Shift Management

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What is shift management?

Shift management is the process of coordinating the schedules and operations of shift workers. It is similar to workplace management, except it is specific for shift-based teams. When team members work in shifts outside the regular 9-5, this requires a more robust scheduling process. However, flexible schedules also improve employee productivity and happiness. Shift management is a communication and organizational process of delegating responsibility, keeping track of inventory, and addressing the needs of both customers and team members.

Why is shift management important?

Shift management is essential to ensuring that your workforce is productive and your workplace is in optimal shape for high performance. Any task related to empowering team members and the workplace to work productively is under the umbrella of shift management.

This includes many processes involving the team, such as employee training, communication, and scheduling. For example, educating team members on safety guidelines, standards for cleanliness, and customer service is a vital part of shift management. Another important aspect is to continuously communicate feedback and identify any blockers with workflow. Strong scheduling practices are also required to ensure team members are given the optimal hours for high productivity.

Besides coordinating people, shift management includes maintaining a safe and efficient workplace. Responsibilities include making sure every area is fully stocked, addressing customer complaints, recording sales numbers, and monitoring compliance with government safety standards.

Who is responsible for shift management?

The person responsible for shift management is typically the shift manager or supervisor. In some cases, the business owner doubles as a shift manager. A high school diploma or GED is typically the prerequisite for shift managers. Some employers may require a post-secondary degree in Hospitality, Management, or Business Administration. Shift managers require training in a company’s specific practice. Math skills and leadership skills are important for shift managers to have.

Examples of Shift Management duties:

  • Scheduling: In a shift-based workforce, there is more emphasis on scheduling because they typically vary by week or month. Scheduling includes shift swapping, finding replacements for cancellations, and occasionally temp staffing.
  • Onboarding and training: Communicating expectations is an important part of shift management. New team members must be trained to comply with the performance and safety standards of a company.
  • Ongoing Communication: Goal setting and performance reviews help team members accomplish business objectives for the company. Giving regular feedback can prevent problems such as buddy punching or employee absenteeism.
  • Budgeting: Forecasting costs is an important aspect of shift management. This includes the cost of labour, inventory, equipment and other overhead costs. Budget plans are typically made annually, with more specific goals for each quarter. 
  • Inventory: Ordering inventory and overseeing their delivery is another responsibility of shift management. Ensure your team is properly stocked in order to give customers a quality experience. 
  • Equipment: Safety and work-related equipment need to be readily available for the team to work productively. Regular maintenance is overseen by the shift manager.


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