More and more businesses are thinking about the possibility of going 24/7. It makes sense. A lot of people work for companies that are outside their time zones. They work in the wee hours of the morning; often, all throughout midnight. They hold meetings at 3 AM and take a rest by 10 AM. Their hours are not normal, so they are looking for businesses that cater to their irregular work schedule. That is why businesses—especially convenience stores, retail, groceries, and specialty stores—are considering a 24/7 operation. There is a new market for this.
The only issue blocking their way is the problem with around-the-clock business efficiency. How sure are you that you will be as efficient when you operate 24/7? You are not the only one who needs to sacrifice for your business; your employees must do the same. Because as much as you are willing to compensate them for their efforts, they need more than just money to be satisfied with their jobs. They need to be healthy, happy, and productive.
The first problem is the employees’ work schedule. A vast majority of them do not enjoy night shifts. If they are to work at night, you need to pay them a night differential. You can’t make them work round the clock. Outside the traditional nine-to-five, there is really no rule about scheduling the two other shifts in a 24/7 organization. So you have to talk this through with your employees. You all have to figure out the best way to balance the schedule so that everyone takes a turn to work at night (unless someone specifically wants to work only at night).
Then, of course, there’s the issue of security. Although it matters even in the daytime, the problem exacerbates when a business is operating 24/7. There are more risks opening your store at 2 AM, when very few people are on the streets. You need to be extra vigilant between 11 PM and 4 AM when most crimes such as robbery happen.
Aside from nighttime security cameras, consider putting a security bar against the door. Your employees should only open the door when there is a customer. For the most part, they should use their gut instinct if they think the “customers” can’t be trusted. They can refuse to open the door if their instinct tells them not to. Teach this to them.
While you may think that a 24/7 business will bring in more profit, that is only possible when your employees remain happy and productive. That is harder than it seems when they are working the night shift. You might have to focus more on improving the morale of employees who work non-traditional hours. Aside from compensating them for their effort to be there during a night shift, you may also incentivize them differently from your daytime workers.
Something as simple as free dinners or snacks will give them a huge morale boost. You can also provide free-flowing coffee in the break room. How about giving them an extra day off every month so that they can rest and pamper themselves? You are asking a lot from your employees by putting them on the night schedule. The least you can do is show them you value their being a team player.
Those who work at night get more tired than those on the daytime shift. Yes, even if there are fewer customers at night. Remember that your employees are not machines. They face danger by working at night, so that’s another thing to consider. Working the night shift is not as easy as it sounds since there are only a handful of customers.
Make sure you can manage employee fatigue. You should put in place a system that will help manage how your employees are feeling during these difficult work hours. An example is to never require them to work more than seven to eight hours per shift. If you need someone to do overtime, that shouldn’t be them. They might feel awkward saying no to you, but this is the last thing you should ask of them. Extending their working hours beyond the normal is a no-no for workers who are on the night shift.
Operating 24/7 is not an easy decision for any company. But if the circumstances demand it, then businesses must be ready to adjust. With that adjustment, of course, comes the inevitable—low employee morale and fatigue that affect productivity. Being able to address these issues will empower businesses to go 24/7 without a hiccup.