A swing shift is when a member of staff works during varying times of day, “swinging” between early, mid, and late shifts over a given period.
Swing shifts are most commonly used at businesses or organisations where staffing is required either around the clock or from very early in the morning until late at night, e.g.:
- Customer service
- Emergency services
- Security services
- Shipping & transportation
Staff who work swing shifts often rotate shifts with other members of their team, working all early, mid, or late shifts for a set period, then changing to the next shift type at the end of each week or month.
Sometimes, staff who work swing shifts will work a variety of different shift types in the same week. For example:
Day 1: 9am – 5pm (8 hours)
Day 2: 12pm – 8pm (8 hours)
Day 3: 10pm – 6am (8 hours)
…and so on.
Advantages of using swing shifts
Swing shifts have their advantages, such as allowing businesses to continue operating for extended hours, and maintaining a consistent level of productivity and customer service.
Disadvantages to using swing shifts
There are downsides to swing shifts however. Staff who regularly swap between working early or late shifts, for example, can find it difficult to adjust their sleep patterns, leading to stress and fatigue. For this reason, it’s best to schedule staff to work the same type of shift for several days in a row, then allowing them 1-2 days’ rest before changing them to different hours so that they have time to adjust.