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Not Working 9-5? Keeping Staff Happy In A 24-Hour Business

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You only have to listen to Dolly Parton to see that the working world has changed beyond recognition since 1980. Back then, most workers clocked off at five and didn’t even have to worry until nine the next morning.

Business owners could more than pull a profit this way. Even they got to have some semblance of work/life balance.


Admittedly, there are still companies which operate with a 9-5 initiative. Office workers still often clock off at five. But, the majority of companies have done away with this easy shift pattern. The sad fact is, many now have to operate on extended hours. Those with late night opening have to embrace shift patterns to keep workers happy.

And, then there are those who have to open 24-hours a day.

Shocking as it may sound, we’re in an age of consumer culture. People want what they want when they want it. The convenience of online shopping has only worsened the situation. As such, competitive companies have no choice but to offer continual opening hours. It’s not unusual for pubs in major cities to now stay open through the night to keep the good times rolling.

Shop owners are also feeling the pressure to operate this way, with many citing that 24-hour service is the future.

The trouble is, while this is a fantastic way to make more money, it can be difficult to keep staff happy. They’re still dreaming of the nine to five, but you’re asking them to work through the night. If you don’t take some time to think this through, your staff turnover will be faster than you can keep on top of. Hence why you should consider the following ways to keep staff happy in your 24-hour business venture.

Different pay rates: While it’s compulsory to pay night workers higher rates in countries like the UK, that isn’t the case here in America. Instead, night rates are based on an agreement between the employer and the individual. But, if you want to keep staff on board for awful shifts, it’s worth offering higher pay for the hours no one wants to work. Money is, after all, the best staff incentive you have onside. Admittedly, the downside is that you’ll pay staff more for less work. You’ll also likely take less profit during these periods.

But, if you want to keep on top of consumer culture, this is a step you need to take. In the grand scheme of things, the extra money you spend here should soon come back around thanks to day trading. You may also find that nighttime business is better than you expect, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. You may also find, over time, that you get away with far less staff at night than you would in the day. Some companies go as far as only employing one night person. But, if you do that, you need to consider…

Employee safety: As a general rule, working night shifts is a risky business. It’s certainly more dangerous than day work. Even if you employ two or more people, they’re operating at a time when streets are quiet. The chances are that customers will be inebriated. The risk of robbery also increases during night hours.

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And, if you’re only employing one person to work this shift, the risks increase even further. Robbers, for instance, will know if staff are alone in a shop. They’re then much more liable to act. As always, though, you need to keep employee safety at the front of your mind. In high-risk areas, that could even mean hiring a security guard to keep night watch.

Even if you don’t take this step during the day, the reassurance of night security could go a considerable way towards keeping staff onside. If you don’t want to go this far, make sure to put reliable alarm systems in place. Provide emergency panic buttons. Make sure, too, to hook all alarms straight to the local police station. If staff still aren’t happy, it may be worth installing a customer screen and keeping the shop itself empty.

Many fuel stations work this way during night hours, and it can go a considerable way towards keeping staff happier. They would merely need to pick up items for each customer and bring them to the safety screen. This small step would eliminate the risks of robbery, and also help your staff feel secure. Make sure, too, that you check in to ensure everyone feels comfortable during night hours.

Keep work fair: Knowing how to arrange shifts in a 24-hour business can be tricky. Many employers stick with night and day staff. But, the risk here is that night staff burn themselves out on little sleep and unsociable hours. Over time, even a willing night worker may start to struggle with this lifestyle. They certainly won’t be able to uphold any semblance of a social life. On top of which, your day staff may come to resent the higher pay of night hours.

Those who need extra cash might long for the chance to work a night shift on occasion. With all that in mind, then, you might want to think about an alternative shift pattern here. Rather than keeping day and night separate, consider mixing it up with split shifts. There are various benefits to this way of operating. You only need to head to resources like this blog post to see how a rotating shift schedule can double productivity.

It also ensures that no one team member suffers for those late opening hours. This gives everyone a chance for free evenings, and free days. On top of which, no one will miss out on that extra pay this way. There are still downsides here, of course. Some staff members may complain about the unstable shifts, for instance.

Ultimately, though, keeping things fair is the best way to keep the largest majority on board.

Don’t shirk night shifts: Of course, as the boss, you’ll also need to step up to the night shift plate. It’s your incentive which has started these extended hours, after all. As with anything in management, you should never ask staff to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. And, that includes those late night shifts.

At least once or twice a week, you should make an effort to work the night with them. It may also pay to do the odd night shift alone if you expect the same from your staff. Admittedly, you don’t HAVE to do this. You are the boss, after all. But, you’d be amazed how much smoother staff relations will be if you make an effort here. Just like that, you may find that grumbling comes to an end.

This is also essential when it comes to making yourself available to staff members. It isn’t fair if you’re only available for help during the day, for instance. If you operate this way, a staff member on night shifts for a week will struggle to contact you. And, that’s not good news. By taking the initiative to work nights, too, you can literally operate on a ‘door always open’ policy. And, if staff feel they can always come to you, they’re sure to be much happier in your employment.

Be flexible about nighttime activities: This last point may well be the hardest one to adjust to. Even so, it’s an essential factor. During day shifts, most managers frown on time wasting. Most don’t like staff to chat and would hand out disciplinaries to those who read during working hours. Instead, they keep the jobs coming and ensure workers are busy at all times. But, this issue changes a little when it comes to night time work.

Of course, the job should still come first. You can always leave a to-do list for night time workers which is non-negotiable. And, of course, customers should get full attention the moment they arrive. But graveyard shifts gained their name for a reason. Even with a hefty to-do list, your employees may find themselves with nothing to do by 4 am. And, that risk of boredom alone can lead to unhappiness in their roles.

As such, it’s worth being flexible here. Realistically, there’s no reason why staff can’t take a book in and read it once they finish their tasks. So long as they know to stop reading the moment customers approach, there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a small allowance which won’t hurt you. But, it could make a massive difference to the happiness levels of employees. Give it a go, and you’re sure to notice straight away how much happier staff are to accept a night shift.

Conclusion: As you can see, keeping staff happy during night shifts isn’t always easy. If you want to keep hold of any employees, you’re going to need to work hard to do it. But, if you put the effort in, you’ll soon find that even the graveyard shift leaves a smile on their faces.

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