Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Health Risks of Working Shifts

There are many serious health risks that come along with work in shifts, like in hospitals or police stations. By the end of this article, hopefully you'll have a better understanding the risks and some idea of how to avoid them.
For starters, a study released in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found an 8% increase in the risk of breast cancer among women nurses who worked between one and 29 years on a rotating night shift schedule and a 36% increase among women who worked more than 30 years in such a position. It is suggested that frequent changes in a woman's sleep schedule leads to disruptions in the melatonin production cycle, which could in turn lead to production of more estrogen, eventually contributing to an increase in the risk of breast cancer.
Next, there are cardiovascular disease and obesity. Researchers have found that the risk of cardiovascular disease grows by 40% when the person works shifts and grows even more the longer the person works nights. Shift work can also lead to obesity because of poor diet and lack of exercise, but also because shift work appears to be correlated with lower levels of leptin, a hormone which plays a major role in making us feel full; less leptin means we feel less full, which means we eat more.
Finally, a less lethal but equally important risk is the correlation between shift work and mood disorders. A 2007 study found that night workers had drastically lower levels of serotonin in their brain, significantly affecting their moods. This is likely why several studies have found a strong correlation between shift work and depression.
So what can you do about avoiding – or at least lessening – these risks?
For one, as always, it's crucial to eat properly and exercise. These will prevent obesity and cardiovascular disease from taking their toll on you, the shift worker. Staying healthy like this could drastically reduce the risks and keep you in the workforce for years to come.
Another possible solution is simply to sleep well. The main problem for workers on the night shift is that, when sleeping during the day, even a tiny amount of exposure to sunlight will wake them up. The solution is for them is to make sure to block out as much of the sun as possible in their bedroom, either with effective blinds or a sleep mask. Some workers returning from a night shift even resort to wearing sunglasses so as to reduce their exposure to morning light and the awakening effect it is likely to have on their bodies.
The best solution, though, is simply to attempt to change one's schedule. Some experts believe that it is better to work stable night shifts rather than rotating day and night shifts. This is not always possible within the current parameters of the job's shift schedule as it is currently designed. A better solution, though, may be offered with modern technology.
Advanced shift scheduling software will allow individual workers to list a preference for shifts that fit their lifestyle and health; managers to define rules that will make for healthier workers; and both to benefit from software that automatically creates error-free shift schedules, based on those preferences and rules, in minutes, not hours. Some shift scheduling software, like EZShift, also includes a platform for managers and workers to communicate with each other, allowing for last-minute shift swaps which could help alleviate the stress that goes along with these sorts of jobs.
In conclusion, shift work can pose serious risks to the health of anyone on such a career path, but taking the proper steps to stay healthy, including using tools offered by modern technology, can help mitigate those risks and ensure a long career.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What Shift Scheduling Software Can Do for Your Restaurant

 We all know what a hassle organizing shifts in a restaurant can be. First you have to make sure all your employees hand in their preferences for when they want to work. Even if all your waiters, cooks and hostesses hand in their preferences on time, you, the shift manager, are still left with a stack of papers to sift through in your office in an effort to fulfill the requirements of each shift – making sure there are enough cooks and waiters for the lunch rush, enough experienced bartenders for the night crowd, etc. – and still keep everyone happy and follow restaurant policy – at least three day shifts and one weekend shift per week, no more than two night shifts in a row, or whatever specific rules your restaurant has on the matter. When you finally finish, possibly after several hours and numerous false starts, you might post it for your employees to see, only to have them make additional requests, ask to be switched, or come to you at the last minute and say they can't work a given shift, leaving you to call all your other employees in a rush to find a replacement. And when you finally have everything set and in order, you have to copy it over to a log book for long-term tracking before starting the whole process over the following week.

Wouldn't it be great if there was another way?

With modern shift scheduling software, such as EZShift (, shift managers can create schedules for their employees quickly, easily, and with no errors. Sophisticated shift scheduling software allows you to set conditions for the schedule – hours, number and types of workers required on a given shift, and so on – as well as properties for individual workers – different groups depending on their qualifications – and then let the software build the schedule for you. What once took hours of frustration can now be accomplished in minutes with ease.

Let's look at a relatively simple example of how shift scheduling software like EZShift can help you. Suppose your restaurant gets especially busy around lunchtime, so you want an experienced waiter on duty from 11 AM. Before, you would have to sit and struggle to arrange the schedule in such a way that your more experienced waiters were on duty at the right time, and start over once you realized a certain schedule arrangement wouldn't work. You could be at it for hours before you got it perfect. With shift scheduling software like EZShift, you simply define who the more experienced waiters are, define the 11 AM shift as one where you need an experienced waiter, and let the program find the best schedule that fits those requirements.

Shift scheduling software also allows for easy, efficient communication between employees and managers. You may find that in the current situation, some employees don't fill in their shift preferences simply because they forget and won't be back at work before the preferences are due. Advanced shift scheduling software like EZShift alleviates this issue by providing a built-in messaging system so employees can fill in their preferences from the comfort of their own computers. These software packages also alleviate the possibility that employees won't put down enough shifts, whether total shifts or types of shifts (time of day, day of the week, etc.), by making it impossible to submit a preference list without fulfilling the basic requirements set by the shift manager.

Let's look at another example. One of your waiters, Jim, clocked out and went home before filling in his preferences for next week's shifts. Instead of you and Jim having to track each other down on the phone, Jim can simply log into his section of your restaurant's shift scheduling software and fill in his preferences from home. If Jim needs to work three morning shifts and at least one weekend shift, he won't be able to save his preferences until he marks his availability for at least three morning shifts and one weekend shift. Shift scheduling software like EZShift can thus save you and your employees time, energy and frustration.

So instead of spending hours making sure you have enough waiters, cooks and hostesses to fill out the shifts for the coming work week, let a shift scheduling software package like EZShift do the work for you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Nobody got your back? Read and see how we can help.

Human error: The reason why we’d rather let machines do the work.
We all come across human error in our day to day lives, whether they are caused by us, or affected us due to somebody else’s mistake.
Allow me to provide you with an example (or 3):
1.       Your manager sends you an email asking when you are going to fire that good-for-nothing employee who just busted the deal of a lifetime with his incompetence.
You click reply and inform him that you’re waiting for the end of the month since you don’t want to fire him just before a major holiday, only to find out you sent your reply to one of that employee’s coworkers.
2.       Your boss (after two workdays of trying to compile the weekly schedule for your team) assigned you to a double shift on the one day you absolutely could not work. Now, since he needs to make up for these two days of scheduling when he got no work done, he’s too busy to find you a replacement (even though it was his mistake), so you have to go beg to your coworkers and come up with a solution.
3.       It’s your 3 year anniversary with your spouse. You call in your favorite restaurant to reserve a table for two on that special evening. When you arrive at the restaurant you are told your table is reserved for the next evening.
Oh no.

The first and last example I gave are probably solution-less, at least at present time, and will just have to remain one of life’s quirky and eventually (many many years from now) amusing situations.

The 2nd example, however, is COMPLETELY avoidable!

Just imagine it: a world completely devoid of mess-ups, embarrassment, disappointments & heartaches, hunger, war and desease…….

Well maybe I’m taking this too far, but it’s actually pretty genius if you think about it: an error prevention system that informs you whenever you are about to make a mistake.
At the moment it only exist as part of the EZSHift staff scheduling software, but wouldn’t it be great if any email software, reservationist and boss would have it integrated in them?

This is what makes our Scheduling Software so cool – it’s got your back!
It allows you to be the flawless boss you are to your employees, always.

No more costly over-time, no more resentment, no more waste of time.

Give our shift scheduling software a chance, it’s as loyal as a puppy and doesn’t chew on your furniture so much. 

(Today's blog entry was brought to you by the all beautiful, all tallanted EZShift team)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our benefits

Operating in the current business environment means increased scrutiny in day to day operations for companies. Publicly traded companies face stronger and more invasive regulations, while smaller privately held companies are relying on rotating credit lines and are facing similar scrutiny from their lenders. Financial institutions are now mandating their clients to submit full and complete financial statements regarding their financial health.
A key measure of a company’s “health” is keeping tabs on their profits versus their expenses. How does one bridge between the need to be frugal and the need to modernize the workplace so the continuation of the business will remain at the front rather than linger behind? One solution is renting software rather than buying it. If you imagine that the software is a rental car, the benefits become easier to understand. There’s no need for regular maintenance, you eliminate routine checkup costs, and the model you get will always be new.
An immediate benefit is the ability to save money. Lower upfront costs and tacit understanding that if the product is like a rental car and doesn’t run well, you can return it to the company. Few businesses today have no use for software in their workplace. Even an artisanal bell maker will find that computerizing their contact list and having easy access to email will be very helpful.
Businesses that are running on a shift schedule module are another type of business that is increasingly using software where it saw little use for it before. Even though such businesses benefit from the introduction of technology, as it allows for better and closer contact with employees, they are often faced with changing variants. This can turn a well-planned schedule into a confusing arrow chart filled with crossed out names and arrows leading nowhere.
If the ensuing phone calls, constant pleading, and continuous changes to the schedule sound familiar, you could benefit from learning about EZShift and its solution to employee scheduling. The combination of human factors along with the needs of a company and the external legal requirements, can make the seemingly simple task of planning a schedule for a three-shift workplace both taxing and daunting.
The ability to utilize employees based on their needed skills and qualifications has become an imperative factor when scheduling employees to work, resulting in an optimal schedule when specified in scheduling software such as EZShift.  Other factors taken into consideration by employee scheduling software such as legal requirements can include rest periods, breaks between shifts, and overtime work hours.
Another element that is taken into consideration in the calculations for assessing companies is the ability to retain employees over an extended period of time. Retaining a trained workforce extends to more than their contributions on the work floor. Expertise produces knowledge gained over time, knowledge that is very valuable and hard to measure. In addition, the cost of training new workers consists of more than spending money on a name tag, and often requires the time and goodwill of senior employees.
An additional important factor that is often overlooked is employee satisfaction. An article published by the Research Center for Group Dynamics University of Michigan in 2006, aptly titled “Need Satisfactions and Employee Turnover,” correlates between the needs of the employees and their satisfaction. A key point made in the article is that: “certain personal needs supplied by a person’s place of employment has a significant direct relationship to his continuing to work for that company.”
A common complaint made by employees performing shift work during exit interviews is the rigidity of the system to accommodate for greater flexibility. The inability to bridge between employee needs and employer’s demands can frequently create a momentum whereby at the end of the dialogue, the employee leaves or is fired. Such a finite solution serves neither side. Instead of finding shifts that better accommodate the employee to the best ability of the company, the company loses a trained employee and the worker is left feeling that the company was inflexible and unhelpful.
Better approaches bridge the gap by merging the company’s needs along with employee needs. With this exact idea in mind, EZShift software allows employees to input their preferences and availabilities, and at the same time automatically places employees into shifts. However, this is not performed without the close monitoring by the designated task person creating the schedules.
An example of this approach is allowing employees to block off times when they aren’t available under certain preset conditions such as a limit to days off, or mandating certain shits such as evenings or mornings. Similar benefits for employees can be the ability to swap shifts with other employees or benefit from shifts that are a better fit for that employee. While seemingly simple and easy, such moves create a dynamic system that doesn’t only feel fair to employees but also allows them to better manage their own schedules. When people feel that they are looked after and are rewarded for their work, results mean a higher morale and a better employee work performance.
The results of satisfied workers are almost immeasurable, yet strongly felt. Employees greeting customers with a genuine smile on their face or staying five minutes longer to finish a task are a treasure for employers. Any business attracting customers for their quality of goods and services can measure the benefits, but the actual advantages can be greater over time as word of mouth creates its own dynamics. Business analysts will often take note of a company that is able to maintain a well-trained set of employees over an extended period of time, equating employee stability with a well-run and secured company.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Things to do with a 7 minute break?

It takes 7 minutes to generate a complete schedule with EZShift.
30 Things to do with your 7 minute break:

1.       Reply to an email you were saving for tomorrow… for the past week.
2.       Tell one of your employees they’re doing a GOOD job (for a change).
3.       Call your spouse and ask what’s for dinner.
4.       Come up with a new and promotion worthy team efficiency idea.
5.       Tell your boss about your new and promotion worthy team efficiency idea.
6.       Floss.
7.       Go tell another manager that you got some free time because you’re using EZShift and he’s not. So HA!
8.       Apologize to said manager.
9.       Confirm attendance in a meeting, then realize it’s dinner with the in-laws night, refuse attendance in a meeting.
10.   Play a hidden object game at
11.   Call your grandma, you haven’t talked to her in ages!
12.   Smoke a cigarette.
13.   Look for rehab programs on-line.
14.   Run a survey around the office about the best way to quit smoking.
15.   Check on where you are on your monthly targets, and locate any bottlenecks.
16.   Find solution for said bottlenecks.
17.   Stretch.
18.   Find an awesome new online-radio station to make your favorite (the old one has too many commercial breaks anyway).
19.   Check hot ski locations for your upcoming birthday.
20.   Sort through clutter (though there shouldn’t be any with EZShift).
21.    HIT workout.
22.   Renew parking meter.
23.   Compile a new youtube playlist.
24.   Do your nails (yes, even if you’re a guy)!
25.   Do your boss’s nails.
26.   Prank-call the guy at the opposite cubicle.
27.   Draw a really bad painting and feature it as your child’s.
28.   Stare.
29.   Purchase cubicle warfare items at
30.   Deploy your cubicle warfare items!

Got any additional ideas for a 7 minute break? Post them as a comment!
The possibilities are endless,
Contact us now!