The obvious answer is yes. But recent analysis suggests otherwise.
By cutting staff, a business should reduce costs. It’ a common assumption among 24/7 industry managers – but it’s not often true.
Unless the workload changes – along with the staff reduction – headcount reductions often end up costing organizations much more in the long run, according to Dr. Martin Moore-Ede and William Sirois, two of the world’s leading experts in shift work, fatigue risk management, and human error in 24/7 operations.
Imbalance Increases Cost
In their co-authored white paper (“Staffing Levels: A Key to Managing Risk in 24/7 Operations”) – written under the aegis of CIRCADIAN® – Moore-Ede and Sirois indicate that staffing levels too lean or unbalanced actually contribute to increased costs and fatigue.
Their work represents an analytical step forward: 20 percent of the industrialized workforce includes shift workers, and while many researchers have examined the risks of different shift schedules, few have examined the significant role that staffing levels plays in managing fatigue throughout the operation.
Key Take-home Point
The authors’ insight: A leaner staff doing more work may look like a cost-saver in the short term, but in the long term, this leads to much higher levels of individual fatigue.
By analyzing data from hundreds of round-the-clock operations, CIRCADIAN® has shown that a significant imbalance between workload and staffing levels drives up costs of overtime, absenteeism and employee turnover. The authors review the unforeseen consequences of understaffing and show how to best determine the optimum staffing level for an organization.
Staffing is the first key step in engineering fatigue out of a business, indicates CIRCADIAN CEO Moore-Ede, a former Harvard Medical School professor. “Other fatigue management measures such as shift scheduling and training programs will fail if you don’t balance staffing and workload,” he adds.
CIRCADIAN provides fatigue risk management solutions for businesses with a 24/7 workforce. Its combined consulting expertise, research, software tools, fatigue management technology and informative publications optimizes employee performance and reduces inherent risks and costs of extended-hour operations. An international enterprise – with offices in North America, Europe, Australia, South America and Asia – CIRCADIAN ensures that over half the Fortune 500, and other leading international companies, improve competitiveness in the global 24/7 economy. For more information, visit www.circadian.com. The whitepaper is accessible at http://www.circadian.com/landing-page/white-paper-staffing-levels.html.