Understanding Clopening Shifts: A Must Read Guide

female call center operator working the night shift

This article takes a closer look at clopening changes, examining their impact on employees' well-being, sleep health education, and business outcomes.

The concept of clopening shifts

Clopening shifts involve assigning employees to work a closing shift followed by an opening shift, typically within a short time. This practice is more common than one might think and can be found across various industries.

From the bustling restaurant scene to retail and hospitality sectors to the dynamic retail industry, examples of clopening shifts can be found where staffing requirements demand extended operating hours.

Defining clopening shifts

Clopening shifts, as the name suggests, combine the terms "closing" and "opening." This scheduling practice requires employees to conclude their work late into the evening, only to return to work early the following day.

The interim period between shifts can be minimal, often less than ten hours, depriving employees of adequate rest and recovery time. This practice has garnered attention due to its potential adverse effects on employee well-being and business performance.

Industries where clopening is common:

  • Restaurants and Food Service: Waitstaff and kitchen crews are frequently scheduled for clopening shifts, especially in establishments that cater to late-night and early-morning diners.

  • Retail: The retail industry often requires employees to close and reopen stores the next day, especially during peak shopping.

  • Healthcare: Nursing and healthcare assistants working in 24/7 facilities often find themselves scheduled for successive shifts due to staffing demands.

In the subsequent sections of this article, we'll explore the challenges faced by employees subjected to clopening shifts and the implications of such scheduling practices on employee work and businesses.

Challenges faced by employees

Employees subjected to clopening shifts encounter a range of challenges that impact their well-being and overall job satisfaction:

  • Sleep deprivation: The short turnaround time between shifts severely limits the opportunity for restorative sleep, leading to chronic sleep deprivation and fatigue.

  • Work-life balance disruption: Clopening shifts disrupt employees' personal lives, making it difficult to engage in activities outside of work or spend time with family.

  • Physical and mental strain: The physical toll of prolonged work hours and mental stress can lead to burnout and a decline in overall health.

  • Reduced performance: Sleep-deprived employees are likely to experience reduced cognitive function, leading to decreased performance, errors, and a potential decline in the quality of their work.

  • Job dissatisfaction: Constantly dealing with inadequate rest and disrupted routines can lead to job dissatisfaction, negatively affecting motivation and employee morale.

In the following section, we'll explore how the prevalence and effects of clopening and shifts can impact businesses and their operations.

Negative impact on businesses

The prevalence of clopening shifts isn't just a concern for employees; it also poses significant business challenges. While this scheduling approach might appear to maximize operational hours, it often results in counterproductive outcomes. Let's explore some of the critical negative impacts of schedule clopening shifts:

Decreased productivity:

The exhaustion and sleep deprivation resulting from clopening shifts affect employees' ability to perform effectively.

Fatigue impairs cognitive functions such as problem-solving, decision-making, and attention to detail.

As a consequence, tasks that would normally be accomplished efficiently may take longer to complete, diminishing overall productivity.

Increased likelihood of errors and accidents:

With depleted energy levels and compromised alertness, employees working clopening shifts are more prone to making mistakes.

In industries where precision and safety are paramount, such as healthcare, manufacturing, or food service, this heightened risk of errors can lead to costly accidents or subpar products and services.

Higher turnover rates:

Subjecting employees to the strain of clopening shifts can significantly contribute to higher employee turnover rates. When employees consistently face grueling schedules, their job satisfaction plummets.

Dissatisfied employees are more likely to seek opportunities elsewhere, leaving businesses grappling with recruitmentcosts, training, and reduced team continuity.

Negative impact on employee morale and engagement:

Clopening shifts can erode employee morale and engagement levels. Employees who feel undervalued and overwhelmed by their work schedules may disengage, leading to decreased enthusiasm and commitment.

Low morale can also permeate the work environment, affecting teamwork and the overall atmosphere of the business.

Useful Read: 6 Metrics to Measure Employee Engagement: The Employers Guide

Impaired customer experience:

In industries directly interacting with customers, such as retail and hospitality, opening-related fatigue can reflect the poor customer service they experience.

Employees who are tired and demotivated are less likely to provide exceptional customer service, potentially resulting in dissatisfied customers and damage to the business's reputation.

The negative impact of clopening from previous shift shifts extends beyond the individual employee, affecting the business's operational efficiency, financial stability, and reputation.

Legal and ethical considerations

Lawyer explaining legal situation to her clients

The scheduling of clopening shifts raises important legal and ethical considerations that employers, HR professionals, and small business owners must address.

Ensuring compliance with labor laws and fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being is essential for the sustainability of both businesses and the workforce.

Labor Laws and Rest Periods:

Many jurisdictions have labor laws that dictate minimum rest periods between shifts. These laws aim to prevent employee burnout and safeguard their health.

While the specifics vary by region, scheduling employees for clopening changes that don't allow for adequate mandatory rest periods may put employers at risk of legal penalties and litigation.

It's crucial for businesses to be well-versed in local labor regulations and to adjust their scheduling practices accordingly.

Ethical implications:

Beyond legal considerations, there are ethical dimensions to scheduling practices. Employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy working conditions for their employees.

Requiring employees to work clopening shifts, which can result in sleep deprivation and physical strain for scheduled workers, raises questions about the ethical treatment of the workforce.

Businesses prioritizing their employees' well-being will likely foster a more positive workplace culture and reap the benefits of a motivated and engaged workforce.

Fairness and employee relations:

Scheduling practices can significantly impact employee relations. Unfair or seemingly arbitrary scheduling, such as frequent clopening shifts, can lead to employee resentment and distrust.

This can erode morale and teamwork, ultimately affecting poor job performance and the business's overall performance. Considering employees' needs and preferences, striving for fair scheduling practices can contribute to a healthier and more harmonious work environment.

Best practices for employers and HR professionals

To address the challenges posed by clopening shifts and create a more employee-friendly work environment, consider adopting these best practices:

  • Implement fair scheduling policies: Develop scheduling policies that distribute clopening shifts fairly among employees, considering their preferences and availability.

  • Provide adequate notice: Give employees ample notice before assigning clopening shifts, allowing them to plan and adjust their routines accordingly.

  • Use scheduling software: Leverage scheduling software to optimize shifts, prevent excessive clopening assignments, and ensure compliance with labor laws.

  • Offer flexible scheduling: Introduce flexible scheduling options, such as split shifts or longer breaks between shifts, to provide employees with opportunities for rest.

  • Promote open communication: Encourage employees to communicate their scheduling preferences and concerns, fostering a collaborative approach to scheduling decisions.

  • Monitor workload: Regularly assess staffing needs to avoid overburdening employees with consecutive closing and opening shifts during busy periods.

Useful Read: The Employer's Guide to Implementing Workload Balance

By embracing these best practices, employers and HR professionals can improve employee satisfaction, enhance business performance, and create a more balanced work-life experience.

Benefits of addressing clopening shifts

Addressing the lack of sleep and clopening shifts can yield positive outcomes for both employees and businesses, ultimately contributing to a more harmonious and productive work environment.

Improved employee well-being and mental health:

By adopting fair scheduling practices and ensuring adequate rest between shifts, employees experience better physical and mental well-being.

Sufficient rest reduces the risk of burnout, promotes better sleep quality, and supports overall mental health. Employees who feel valued and cared for are more likely to be engaged and committed to their roles.

Enhanced workplace morale and teamwork:

Fair scheduling practices prioritizing employees' needs foster a sense of fairness and respect within the workplace.

When employees perceive that their employer is attentive to their well-being, it enhances morale and job satisfaction.

This positive atmosphere can lead to stronger team cohesion, improved collaboration, and a more positive workplace culture.

Positive impact on overall business performance:

Well-rested employees are more capable of delivering high-quality customer service. Attentive and engaged employees create better customer interactions, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Furthermore, reduced fatigue and stress levels increase employee engagement, improving productivity and business performance.

By implementing measures that address the challenges of clopening shifts, businesses can create a more conducive environment for their employees to thrive, resulting in a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved.

Useful Read: Boosting Your Productivity Score: Strategies for Success

Steps for small business owners

company employees discussing during a meeting in workplace

Navigating the complexities of scheduling personal tasks while prioritizing employee well-being requires a tailored approach, particularly for small business owners with limited staffing resources.

Here are practical steps that can help strike a balance between operational needs and employee satisfaction:

  • Understand your workforce - Gain insights into your employees' preferences, availability, and constraints. This understanding forms the foundation for creating schedules that align with their needs.

  • Cross-train your team - Cross-training your employees to handle multiple roles enhances flexibility. This reduces the necessity of scheduling an employee for consecutive shifts due to limited skill availability.

  • Plan - Anticipate busy periods, holidays, and seasonal fluctuations in demand. Planning enables you to allocate shifts and human resources more strategically, minimizing the need for last-minute adjustments.

  • Leverage technology - Explore scheduling software tailored to small businesses. These tools can streamline the scheduling process, helping you avoid inadvertently assigning clopening shifts.

  • Solicit employee input - Involve your employees in the scheduling process. Seek their feedback and preferences and genuinely accommodate their needs when creating schedules and scheduling employees.

  • Monitor and adapt - Regularly assess the impact of your scheduling practices. Monitor employee satisfaction, turnover rates, and business performance to make informed adjustments as needed.

Navigating the scheduling challenges unique to small businesses demands a proactive, empathetic approach. Small business owners can uphold a positive work environment that promotes operational success and employee well-being by adhering to these steps.

How do we avoid clopenings with effective scheduling?

Manager working on Shiftbase scheduling tool to create employee schedules

Employers and HR professionals can adopt the following strategies to make employee requests, minimize the occurrence of clopening shifts, and promote fair scheduling practices:

  • Utilize scheduling software: Invest in scheduling software that optimizes shifts, prevents back-to-back assignments, and ensures compliance with labor laws.

  • Implement rotations: Establish a rotation system where employees share clopening responsibilities, distributing the workload evenly.

  • Provide adequate rest: Schedule longer breaks between shifts to allow employees to rest and recuperate adequately.

  • Prioritize availability: Consider employees' availability and preferences when creating schedules to reduce the need for last-minute adjustments.

  • Forecast demand: Anticipate peak periods and fluctuations in demand to allocate staffing resources more effectively.

  • Open communication: Encourage open dialogue between managers and employees regarding scheduling preferences and concerns.

Useful Read: Schedule Rotation Generator + FREE Template

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By recognizing the challenges posed to hourly employees by this scheduling practice and implementing fair, employee-centered solutions, employers can improve employee well-being, boost morale, and elevate overall business performance.

Striking the right balance between operational demands and the welfare of the workforce not only contributes to a more harmonious workplace but also enhances the long-term success of both the employer and the business as a whole.

Addressing Clopening Shifts with Shiftbase

Clopening shifts can challenge the well-being and efficiency of employees, making it crucial for businesses to manage such shifts effectively.

Shiftbase emerges as a beacon for businesses grappling with workforce management issues like this. Its adept employee scheduling capabilities ensure that such consecutive shifts are minimized, while the time tracking feature allows for precise monitoring of working hours.

Additionally, the absence management tool provides insights into leave patterns, further optimizing your scheduling. Navigate the challenges of clopening shifts and more with Shiftbase.

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Topic: Work Shift
Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


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