The Most Important Skills to Look for in Shift-based EmployeesWhat attributes are essential when hiring workers for shift-based industries?

Job patterns outside the traditional 9-5 have a significant impact on the UK’s economy, with 14% of UK employees working shifts.

It’s commonly seen in industries ranging from hospitality and education to security, transportation, manufacturing and more.

While some of these industries require highly specialised employees, others demand broader skillsets.

Regardless of what industry your business is in, there are certain traits that your employees will likely need to navigate the world of shift work successfully.

A calm head

Part of the reason many jobs are shift-based is to meet fluctuating levels of demand, which means there will be times when things get very busy.

Consider retail assistants during sales periods or security staff at a popular festival. The ability to make decisions under pressure will be vital for these employees.

On a related note, the ability to multitask effectively can greatly help employees manage situations calmly.

Being able to prioritise the work that needs doing and ensure that the most important tasks are handled first can make a big difference during busy, stressful periods.

Aptitude for learning

A lot of shift-based roles expect employees to learn on the job, and while this isn’t always easy or fair on the new starters, it can be essential in such fast-paced industries.

Employees in small teams will need to be particularly adaptable as they may be required to take on different roles during the course of the day.

Depending on where they’re needed, it isn’t unreasonable for hospitality employees to end up moving between front of house duties, service, and the kitchen itself.

If you hire fast learners who can turn their hand to whatever task you assign them, this flexibility will help keep your business on track.


Shift work often entails working during times of the day when customers are inclined to be less friendly. That could range from people leaving a nightclub at 2am or while they’re waiting impatiently for their food in a restaurant.

Employees working shifts in these situations are likely to have to deal with people who aren’t at their best. They’ll need to keep their cool in the face of angry customers and continue to deliver a professional service.

It’s not just about having a thick skin however. Resilience is also important during slower periods, when maintaining standards and focus despite a lack of activity is equally as important.

Tech skills

Technology has long been an enabler in the industries where shift work is most prevalent. This dates back at least to the industrial innovations that powered the first factories and created a whole new class of workers.

While things have advanced beyond recognition since then, the use of technology is still vital for many shift-based roles.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the speed of adoption of digital solutions, and so employees need to be capable of using whatever tools the job requires.

That’s not to say you need to hire computer whizzes and programmers, but they should be comfortable operating—or learning how to operate—various solutions, from time tracking and point of sale systems to inventory management, payroll, and more.

Luckily, Findmyshift covers several of these features in its easy-to-use interface.

Great communication

Shift workers interact with a wide variety of people, including customers, colleagues, and suppliers.

It’s essential that they have the skills to deal with each of these groups, and the individuals within them, in a productive way.

They might need to take on information from the employee they’re relieving about the previous shift.

They could be handling a customer complaint or following up with a producer about a supply chain issue.

Whatever situation they’re thrown into, you want your employees to be able to understand what needs doing and pass on the appropriate message as a spokesperson for your business.

While communication is definitely a must-have skills for shift-based employees, there are ways you as a manager can improve communication within your business.

Addressing common barriers to open communication and encouraging transparency will go a long way towards ensuring your employees are empowered to speak up when they need to.

With these points in mind, you can find, hire, and train employees with the perfect skillset for shift-based work.

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