McVities’ shift in culture works wonders

McVities’ food processing plant in Leicestershire has cut its staff absence
rate by nearly 5 per cent by letting employees choose their own shift patterns.

The company has abolished overtime and introduced annualised hours, which
has increased employees’ contracted earnings by a quarter.

The 1,000-strong workforce is divided into teams and these co-ordinate their
own shift patterns. It has enabled the plant to cover peak production and
holiday times more effectively, while giving staff more job flexibility.

The absence rate among the plant’s staff has been reduced from 7 per cent to
2.5 per cent.

Neil Smith, senior HR officer of McVities, explained that the new shift
patterns have benefited both staff and the business.

"We had a culture of employees working six-day weeks of up to 60 hours
with high stress, absenteeism and sickness levels, which led to poor industrial
relations," he said.

"By letting the teams devise their own shift patterns we have catered
for the mix of requirements. The reduction in absenteeism levels is a big
result," Smith said.

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