Rotating shift schedules can include continuous or semi-continuous models, depending on the total amount of coverage needed, and appear as traditional rotation, slow rotation, oscillating rotation or partial rotation methods. Each method involves dividing the work force into three or more groups of several employees who work the same job at different hours of the day, rotating over a weekly or monthly period to ensure full coverage while abiding by labor laws.
A fixed shift schedule consists of a single set of open positions within the company's work calendar to which the hiring manager assigns employees on a stationary basis, so that each employee usually works the same time period each week. In contract, a rotating shift schedule overlaps the work periods and shuffles the sections among employees so that the business has constant or near-constant coverage without forcing employees to work beyond standard labor limitations. Creating a rotating shift schedule begins by determining how many hours per day the business needs the employees to work, with continuous models applying to 24-hour establishments such as hospitals or hotels.
Understanding the total coverage requirements allows the scheduling manager to lay out the shift options using one of several models. For example, the traditional schedule involves the employee teams changing shifts each week, such as working an 8-hour shift in the morning the first week and an 8-hour shift in the evening the next week. Other models may place one group of employees on a standard schedule, such as working during normal business hours, while the other teams overlap that shift and cover night hours, changing periodically.