Feb 4, 2008

Hiring shiftworkers: best practices for managers in 24/7 operations

Fear of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)--and sparking a lawsuit--has led managers in most 24-hour companies to avoid any consideration of whether a potential applicant will adjust to shiftwork.

It's an ironic situation: Researchers have only recently begun to understand how shiftwork affects people's health, and now that this information is being disseminated, companies are hesitant to make use of it. While ADA should not deter you from making adaptability to shiftwork part of your screening process, you certainly should proceed with caution and competent legal advice.

When you rotate longer than two weeks, you typically increase tardiness and absenteeism on the night shifts. At the very least, you should develop a profile of your best shiftworkers and augment your hiring process to find people with similar traits. You may be able to do this on your own, interviewing successful shiftworkers in your operation. There are also consultants who can help you with this (see links for consulting and training firms on the right side of this website).

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