Schedule-related fatigue can be minimized if you address physiological constraints such as maintaining a slower speed of schedule rotation and incorporate work demand predictions (analyzing historical rates of production and service), according to a new study by Circadian Technologies.

Your work schedules will be more accepted by employees if these sociological challenges and employee preferences are factored into schedule design. Flexible schedules also can lead to reduced overtime, absenteeism and turnover costs, according to "Flexible Workforce Management," written by Todd Dawson, Circadian's director of research, grants and special projects, and Udo Trutschel, Ph.D., senior research consultant.

Companies that have implemented flexible workforce management programs have experienced significant operational improvements, according to the study. In one police department, scheduling efficiency rose from 65 percent to over 80 percent without adding any additional staffing. In a container port facility, the flexible workforce schedule saved 1,600 hours of idle time and 900 hours of unnecessary overtime each week.

Recent studies reveal a broad impact of work schedules on key performance metrics, including on-shift performance, general health, sleep and mood behavior, absenteeism, accident data, risk of errors and effects on social life.

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