What Are Rotating Shifts? Definition, Benefits and Tips

The term “rotational shiftwork” covers a wide variety of work schedules and implies that shifts rotate or change according to a set schedule. These shifts can be either continuous, running 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, or semi-continuous, running 2 or 3 shifts per day with or without weekends.

Rotating shifts are a type of work schedule that requires employees to work different times of the day or night on a regular basis. They often involve alternating between different types of shifts such as days, nights, and weekends, and can be used in a variety of industries including healthcare, retail, restaurants, and transportation. Rotating shifts are becoming increasingly popular as they can provide a more flexible work environment, help to reduce labor costs, and increase productivity. However, they can also come with a number of challenges, such as a lack of consistency, sleep deprivation, and difficulty staying connected with family and friends. In this blog post, we will explore what rotating shifts are, the advantages and disadvantages of this type of work schedule, and how to manage them effectively.

The Complete Guide to Rotating Shift Work

How do rotating shifts work?

With rotating shifts, different employees alternate working different set shifts over the course of a week or month. Shifts are generally eight to 12 hours. An employee might, for instance, work day shifts for five days, then take two days off before working night shifts for the following five days. Typically, employers try to evenly distribute shifts among all employees so that they work a variety of shifts. The precise rotation schedule depends on the employer, the business’s operating hours, and the sector.

What are rotating shifts?

Work schedules that alternate from one shift to another on a regular basis are known as rotating shifts. An employee might, for instance, work two day shifts and then two night shifts. Businesses that operate 24/7 or with extended hours employ rotating shifts to ensure coverage at all times. Day shifts, night shifts, overnight shifts, and swing shifts are some examples of specific shifts. Rotating shifts ensure that each type of shift is covered by every employee throughout the week or month.

Who uses rotating shifts?

Rotating shifts are used by businesses that need 24/7 staffing to keep operations running smoothly at all times. Industries that commonly implement rotating shifts include:

Types of rotating shifts

According to ExacTime, the various kinds of rotating shift schedules are as follows:

DuPont shift schedule

The DuPont schedule, which bears the name of the company that invented it, features two 12-hour shifts that are alternated between four teams of workers. Each team works four night shifts, three days off, three day shifts, one day off, three night shifts, three days off, four days shifts, and seven days off during the scheduling cycle, which is typically four weeks.

Employees at DuPont have seven days off in a row, which is a convenient schedule because it gives them time to unwind and recharge before going back to work. Because the shifts are long and there is only one day off in the middle of a long stretch of shifts, this schedule might be difficult for some people. Additionally, some weeks require workers to put in well over 40 hours.

Southern swing schedule

Three shifts of eight hours each make up the Southern swing schedule, which rotates them every 28 days. Companies employ four teams, which rotate through four shifts per month, as follows:

The Southern swing schedule has the advantage of having employees work eight-hour shifts rather than 10- or 12-hour shifts. However, some individuals might require some time to adjust to working seven days in a row.

Pitman shift schedule

The Pitman schedule, which is also referred to as a 2-3-2 schedule and operates on a two-week cycle, requires workers to work two shifts, take two days off, work three shifts, take two days off, work two shifts, and take three days off. Day or night shifts alternate with each other in a row, and each shift lasts for 12 hours. Employees are given every other weekend off under this rotating schedule, which gives them a sense of normalcy to spend time with their families or take care of personal business.

2-2-3-2-2-3 shift schedule

The 2-2-3-2-2-3 schedule rotates 12-hour shifts over a 28-day period in the manner shown below:

Employees who follow this schedule benefit from regular days off, never working more than three days straight, and a three-day weekend every other weekend. But 12-hour shifts can be taxing, particularly for jobs in the construction and healthcare industries.

Benefits of rotating shifts

Employers who implement rotating shifts can gain from them in the following ways:

Tips for rotating shifts

Rotating shifts can be a challenging adjustment for some employees. Here are some suggestions for how you can adapt these schedules to suit your team:

Please note that Indeed is not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned in this article.


How does a rotating shift work?

Employees on a rotating schedule work the day shift for one or two weeks before switching to the night shift for the same amount of time. This allows you to cover all of your operating hours while still giving your employees their scheduled vacation time.

What are rotating shift hours?

The company itself may benefit from rotating shifts the most. Working around the clock is more advantageous than rotating shifts, which also improve morale and keep things in check. You can cover all the hours with rotating shifts and still give everyone enough time off.

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