5 Reasons Businesses Should Divide Shifts

How the new way of splitting shifts can affect your bottom line.

Published on October 22, 2019

Splitting shifts is a common practice in workplaces with consistent peak times. Traditionally, split shifts are where a worker cuts their work time into two separate parts with a long break in between. 

There is a new way for you to think about splitting shifts, though. What if instead of one worker splitting their own work time, it was two or more workers splitting one work day? A typical full work day could be broken down into shorter shifts. Then workers would decide which sections of the shift they are available. So Worker A comes in, does the first five hours of a shift and then clocks out. Worker B would clock in as Worker A leaves and replace that worker for the last 3 hours. This scenario works well for work that is task-based or repetitive.

This system would also make splitting shifts more applicable to industries like warehousing and manufacturing. By dividing a typical worker’s day up, a company can see numerous benefits for human resources management and the bottom line.


More workers reduces risk

Having more workers responsible for one job protects businesses against problems when a worker suddenly becomes unavailable. By having a larger pool of employees working, if one person either quits or has an emergency, it’s more likely that the work will still get completed because someone will be able to fill in for them.

While it is a benefit to have more workers working less hours, it does present a logistical challenge for an HR team. How will managers be able to staff for twice as many people or more? It may actually be easier than you anticipate.


Dividing shifts attracts more workers

There are significant benefits for workers who work divided shifts. The most obvious benefit is flexibility. By empowering workers to choose whichever hours they’re available, individuals can build their work life around their personal life. Providing this flexibility will make your roles more attractive to job seekers. Potential workers may be looking to supplement a full-time job, can only work particular hours, or have other responsibilities with childcare or other caregiving. Using this divided shift system, a company broadens their candidate pool for workers.


Utilizing gig workers

Another way dividing shifts broadens the candidate pool is by allowing companies to utilize gig workers. Gig work is a growing trend in our workforce. According to Gallup, 36% of the U.S. workforce was a part of the gig economy in 2018 – that’s over one third of the United States’ labor pool. This percentage is only expected to grow. There are also tons of benefits companies get from using gig workers including saving money and increasing flexibility. So how can a business take advantage of this opportunity?

As discussed in the last section, flexibility can be a big draw for traditional workers, but it’s even more enticing for gig workers. Increased flexibility is usually a major factor for workers switching to the gig economy. If a business uses shorter work periods, that appeals directly to the gig workers’ values.

A business also needs to partner with a gig economy platform to access a network of gig workers. These platforms make managing split shifts easy and many workers rely on these platforms to find gig work. When choosing a platform, the most important thing to figure out is what types of workers the business needs. For example, if a business needs freelance design work, Upwork is a great platform. If a business needs skilled workers in warehousing, manufacturing, customer service, and other industries, tilr is the premier option.


A more healthy and productive workforce

The flexibility workers enjoy from divided shifts also benefits the company in the long-term. Longer standard work hours can cause people to be less healthy, less productive, and more likely to make mistakes.

Individuals know when they have other commitments to attend to, when they need rest, and what hours they’re most productive. Workers also have an idea of when payment is adequate and when they should take on more work. By giving flexibility to workers, businesses get a much more efficient workforce. The costs of human mistakes, sickness, and fatigue can be lessened through dividing workdays into more manageable chunks and sharing the workload.


Reduce overstaffing

Splitting shifts has traditionally been a way to have less workers during non-peak hours. This can still be a benefit to business types outside the restaurant industry. By having multiple two hour work periods instead of a single eight hour shift, managers can better optimize manpower for when it’s most needed. This will reduce unnecessary labor costs for the business.

The process of dividing up shifts is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some states have specific laws around how businesses are allowed to split shifts. When considering implementing a program like this, it’s important to follow the law. A labor attorney familiar with these issues can be a great resource to help with this.

Businesses also need to consider potential drawbacks for their employees. For example, some employees may have long commutes. In that case, having multiple shorter shifts in a day could result in them having an even worse commute. Talk with your current employees about the possibility of dividing shifts to help gauge interest.


Overall, the benefits of dividing shifts can far outweigh the costs. Breaking up work times can be mutually beneficial for both businesses and employees. It gives businesses less excess labor costs, access to new sources of workers, and more productive employees. Workers get more control over their work-life balance through the flexibility. A well-implemented divided shift program may be an effective new way to staff for your business and keep your workers happy and productive.