The future of management for the shift-based workforce.

May 11, 2022

Working patterns and preferences have radically changed over the last decade or two. Organizations have sought to make their workforces more agile and adaptable. Workers are favoring opportunities that give them the flexibility they need.

Organizations that efficiently manage flexible working patterns, particularly for shift-based workers, are at a competitive advantage. They attract the best talent, adapt to changes in business needs and build a great talent pool.

Solutions like JoinedUp by Beeline give organizations the capability to automate the arduous management processes that make flexible working possible and profitable.

The rise in shift-based and casual work has caused a tectonic shift in the labor landscape over the past decade.

For workers, the shift-based lifestyle is a more free and flexible approach to working in industries like logistics, office work, cleaning, healthcare and more.

For hiring organisations and staffing agencies who service them, the contingent workforce poses a set of complex challenges which, if not properly navigated, threaten to offset any cost benefits.

While meeting highly dynamic seasonal and day-to-day labor demand, they often have to contend with high levels of staff turnover and absenteeism. They also have to manage the complicated logistics of differing HR and management processes for their full-time and contingent workforces. 

Such challenges are made more complex by the lack of any joined-up real-time control and communication throughout the agency-worker-hirer chain. 

The solution is viewed as a software development challenge that neither agencies or employers have the capacity or investment to solve. As a result, a failure to get to grips with the challenges has left the contingent workforce decades behind the rest of the labor market when it comes to managing, hiring, onboarding and contract termination.         

Meeting dynamic demand

Labor needs are no longer static and unchanging. There’s constant variation based on organizational growth, seasonal demand and a host of other factors. 

This leaves employers often working with multiple labor suppliers with no central hub of communication or real-time control, resulting in either worker shortages or over-hiring. 

The former results in serious operational and financial failures. The latter can cause mistrust between workers and labor suppliers that feeds into low engagement and increases absenteeism and staff turnover.   

Assessing candidates

Accurately assessing candidate experience is crucial to successful recruitment. In sectors such as healthcare, education and transport, the process is further complicated by legal requirements to check references, certifications, criminal record information, licence statuses and more - often on an ongoing basis.  

The sheer volume of hires and the cost of checking this data make candidate assessment one of the most costly and time-consuming aspects of recruitment. But it’s a process that neither labor suppliers or hirers can afford to get wrong.  

Getting onboarding right

Most companies have defined onboarding processes to help workers get to grips with health & safety, company policy and organizational culture. 

But, they’re often designed with the full-time workforce in mind. They don’t cater to the varying needs of the contingent workforce who typically won’t fully engage with organizational vision and values. They may also be reluctant to undergo lengthy onboarding processes, which are often not inclusive, and can be disjointed and time-consuming.   

Hirers must still make sure workers have the appropriate knowledge, equipment and systems access in place to be productive from the outset. This is challenging for hirers agencies dealing with high staff turnover and wildly fluctuating demand for labor.

Managing turnover

In comparison with the conventional labor market, turnover in the temporary, shift-based economy is astronomical, with some organizations reporting rates as high as 500% per year.

This is hardly surprising. Assigning work on a casual shift basis is a signal that employers have little desire to form long-term relationships or provide ‘jobs for life’. Temporary workers tend to view work as a means to an end, rather than a lifelong career. This means they’re more ready than full-time staff to change roles in pursuit of higher pay or improved terms.

For agencies and hirers, high turnover makes recruitment a continuous process with ongoing time and financial costs for onboarding and departure admin.  


Low levels of worker engagement makes absenteeism an acute problem for agencies and employers.  

In addition to the obvious day-to-day operational problems, high absenteeism can result in a stressed and demotivated workforce. This has the knock-on effect of decreased productivity as workers cover for missing colleagues.

Most hirers and agencies aren’t equipped to react to fast-changing labor demand. They often resort to complex spreadsheets, contact books, paper records and other non-integrated channels to communicate with and send workers where they’re needed in time. 

Managing workers

Time trackers and attendance tools - a must for recording and reporting work hours - don’t always speak the same language as agencies’ or hirers’ systems. This means data has to be manually entered into spreadsheets or paper files.

It’s just the start of a series of complexities that adds to the challenge of managing a workforce typified by low engagement. For example, hiring companies may have to design workaround policies and rules covering specific one-off contingencies. This results in differing and difficult-to-manage procedures and policies for full-time and casual workers.  

Time for a joined-up approach to your workforce management?

From assessment and onboarding to management and beyond, JoinedUp by Beeline’s platform lets hirers streamline, centralise and visualize shift-based worker data and rise to the challenge of managing your shift-based workforce. 

To find out how JoinedUp could help your organization, contact us today to arrange an informal discussion about your shift-based workforce challenges.

Read our previous article about "Why labor participation isn't purely a wage issue".

Photo by Hadija Saidi on Unsplash