Police policy: the importance of shift patterns and work-life balance

A study by the Police Federation, which represents officers in England and Wales, has found that morale is at an all-time low with nearly three quarters (72%) unhappy with their pay package and many planning to leave the service within the next two years. 

It’s been widely reported that Humberside Police are looking to address this retention issue by improving its employees’ well-being, starting with something that affects every part of an officer’s life: shift patterns.

A spokesperson for the force said officers’ current shift patterns were:

“… at the centre of their problems with work-life balance and health and well-being – which are two of the biggest reasons for low morale”.

This is just the latest example of increasing awareness amongst organisations that Working Time and shift patterns influence everything from productivity through to employee health and motivation.

At Working Time Solutions, as workforce planning and management specialists, we’ve worked with hundreds of organisations to modernise working arrangements so that they deliver organisation-wide benefits.

For employees, optimised shift patterns can provide more predictable hours, minimise overworking and reduce the need for last-minute overtime requests.

An equitable distribution of shifts can also be designed to ensure there is adequate and usable distribution of non-working time and that pattern types are safe and compliant.

All of these are key to supporting work-life balance and wellbeing.

We’re also increasingly being called upon by organisations to design shift patterns and rosters that are suited to specific demographics or lifestyles.

This can include taking into account childcare needs or ensuring that individuals can work reduced hours during a phased transition into retirement.

With 24-hour, volatile demand and cuts to funding and staff numbers, it is no wonder that those who serve to protect us are feeling the pressure.

Many organisations continue to operate ‘legacy’ working practices that are not responsive to change and are putting the health and wellbeing of employees at risk. It’s refreshing to see an institution as large as the Police re-appraise its arrangements for the good of its staff.  


To summarise, the proven benefits of introducing optimised, flexible and appealing patterns of work are:

  • More predictable working hours.
  • Certainty on earnings.
  • Options designed to suit different life-stages and lifestyles.
  • Patterns that are safe and compliant.
  • An equitable distribution of pattern types.
  • Eliminating reliance on long hours and goodwill.
  • Ensuring valuable employees do not become overworked or de-motivated.
  • More autonomy and the ability to easily plan and manage Working Time through mobile self-service systems.
  • Supporting efforts to become an ‘employer of choice’ in a highly competitive labour market. with working patterns and rosters that are attractive and competitive.

If you'd like to know more about how our software and expertise might help support your workforce planning and management strategy, contact us now. 

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