How to Deal With an Employee Who Does Not Want to Change Shifts

Employers must sometimes need employees to move to a new shift. For example, the company may be adding a shift that requires a particular worker's expertise on that shift. Other times, an employee with more seniority requests a particular shift, and either management or the collective bargaining agreement -- or, union contract -- facilitates changing shifts for the worker with more seniorit. This isn't a problem when an employee moves to the new shift without incident, but in some instances, a worker is resistant to moving to a new work schedule. In either case, the employer is always responsible for explaining the reason for changing working hours.

Listen to the Employee's Concern

Listen to the employee's concerns. Your employer might have valid reasons for not wanting to change shifts, such as not having child care at that time of day, lacking transportation or having competing family obligations. The first step to solving conflict about a shift change is understanding the employee's reason for not wanting to change her work hours.

Give Notice of Schedule Change at Work

Explain the reasons for the shift change. Scheduling experts and co-owners of Shiftwork Solutions, Jim Dillingham and Dan Capshaw, provide several examples of why employers should prepare an in-depth explanation about why the employee needs to change shifts and why it is important for the success of the company.

Consider Available Options

Offer a rotating shift option. For positions that don’t require specialized knowledge, it can be easiest to get a handful of employees to work on a rotating shift. On a rotation schedule, one employee works the shift one week and then rotates to another shift while a different employee covers the first shift. This can work well when the shift is one that is undesirable. An employee has to work the shift only occasionally, instead of every week.

Implement Temporary Solutions

When an employee is resistant to a schedule change, offer him a trial period for the new schede. Some people are initially resistant to any type of change, because they have grown comfortable in their routine. If that is the case, working the new shift for several weeks can change that employee’s perspective. He may realize that the new schedule isn’t as challenging as he thought, or even come to realize that he likes the new schedule better.

Create an Incentive for Shift Changes

Offer a shift premium. Companies sometimes offer a shift bonus for those working hard-to-cover shifts, such as afternoons. A shift bonus of about 10 percent essentially offers the employee working that shift an instant raise. This can go a long way toward soothing an employee’s reluctance to work a new schedule. Confirm your incentive with a notice of shift change letter to put your promise in writing.

Modify the Company's Operational Schedule

Move to a four-day work week to accommodate employees and ensure that you don't have to continually explain your reason for changing working hours. Break workweeks into 10-hour, four-day shifts, instead of eight-hour, five-day shifts. Not only will employees enjoy having a three-day weekend every week, but when fuel prices are high, employees can save money by not having to commute into work five full days.


Offer a flexible schedule where the employee can work at home part of the time.

Don't lose a good employee over a shift change, if you don't have to. Finding and training good workers is expensive. You can hire another person to cover a difficult shift.