woman working on [possibly] a hospital ward - possibly a cleaner

Supporting shift workers with caring responsibilities

by Simarjeet Kaur, Relationship Manager for Working Forward

Published: 21 Dec 2018

With many of us preparing for a Christmas break with our families, it is all too easy to forget that there will be thousands of people working through this holiday period – from firefighters to bar staff.

39% of shift workers are responsible for children. For some children, that means being without their main carer on Christmas morning.  

This is just one of many dilemmas that shift-workers and their employers are presented with. But working parents can still enjoy a rewarding career in some of the most fulfilling professions with some creative thinking.

We recently invited employers operating in a shift-based environment to a Working Forward event to look at how employers can support shift workers with caring responsibilities.

Employers should consider

1. How to manage the shift rota

  • Encourage teams to complete their own rotas and collaborate with colleagues – this will promote teamwork and build an understanding of the complexities involved in creating a rota that works for everyone. Royal Mail provide a good example of this.
  • Share the rota in advance – shift workers need sufficient notice of their rota so they can plan for childcare arrangements. For example, nurseries may be closed in the evening when an employee has a shift.
  • Find creative solutions – allowing line managers the freedom to find creative solutions with colleagues helps build relationships and lead to better long-term solutions.

2. Offering all shift workers flexibility

  • Trust your employee to work productively when working flexibly – employees that are treated with respect and trust are more productive and less likely to leave.
  • Communicate flexibility in job adverts – 92% of millennials identify flexible working as a top priority when job hunting.
  • Leave loudly – when working flexibly, use your leadership to set an example and explain why you are leaving early or late.
  • Review your flexible working policies and practices – this can help you understand how flexible working has an impact on your workforce.
  • Understand why people need flexibility – empower employees to share their human story and explain how flexibility will help the team.
  • Explain the business reason if you say no – and allow employees to discuss compromises.
  • Empower employees – help them know their rights and work together to develop flexible working solutions.