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Graveyard shift compensation

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  • Graveyard shift compensation

    As summer approaches it is becoming more and more apparent to me that I am going to have to shift to 24hr production in order to fill orders. Naturally, none of my brewers are overly excited about working the “graveyard” shift. However, being brewers they are always interested in making more money. I have heard that the large breweries pay about 25% more to the employees that work at night. I have spoke with friends (who work outside this business) and they have told me that they would not even consider it for anything less than a 50% increase. I absolutely do not want to loose any of my guys, yet at the same time I have a business to run. So, I was curious if anyone knows of an industry standard for “graveyard” shift compensation.
    Drink the beer, destiny of the land.

  • #2
    I don't think there is a universal standard for shift premiums. It depends on the industry, and the part of the world you live in.

    It's been awhile, but last time I was involved with shift premiums, it was anywhere from 5-50%, depending on the situation.
    Most were 5-10% for working outside the day shift. Some operators who work ouside normal hours, (e.g.,Nights, weekends) Where given overtime for all hours worked at 1.5 base pay.

    I think you will have to use your diplomacy and hope you all agree on the out come.


    • #3
      My experience in both unionized and non environments is much less than 50%. We see typically a 2-4% shift premium based on afternoon vs nights. 24 hour operation is a classic sign of success. I am sure you can find good employees to fill these hours without any difficulty. Cheers!


      • #4
        When I was working at one of the biggest craft brewers in country the compensation was a 15% pay increase. The graveyard shift would run for one month straight, and then another brewer would take over, with a each brewer on graveyard shift every six months.

        good luck

        Scott Vaccaro
        Captain Lawrence Brewing CO
        Elmsford, NY


        • #5
          forgot to mention before, We had a union in the company, about 45% of the work force and in the U.S.(public utility)
          As of now and where I been(Europe, Asia and other parts of the U.S.) Most is No compensation. (direct) That is for the brewer and key staff.

          Of interest maybe, we tried other compensation, Such as "Comp time" You work an off day shift and you would get extra time off or some other monitary or non-monitary compensation later. (It drives the tax people nuts!)


          • #6
            Hello again Enkidu. That is a tough situation, especially for a rapidly growing brewery where people feel like they are working hard and making sacrifices already.

            My experience with food & beverage production (non-beer) on 24 h shifts is much smaller than a 50% compensation increase. Usually the shift differential is roughly an increase of 10 to 12% for second shift and 15 to 18% for third shift.

            Perhaps one of your current brewers would prefer to work nights anyway...(some people do consider the sun to be the "death star"). Or, rather than moving one of your brewers to a third shift position, you may be better off hiring someone new so that they are not so familiar with the "old" way of life.

            Who knows, Kari may even be looking for a position at a fine brewery, such as yours, by then...



            • #7
              At High Falls Brewing Company we have about a 3% shift premium for midnights and about 2.5% for the PM shift. When I first came here, I was a supervisor on the MD shift for 2 years. Was not thrilled with the concept at first, but it grows on you. We have people who prefer the shift. Some have kids and they will take over in the morning when their wife goes to work. It can and does work for many, many people. If you are going to rotate people through the shift, I would recommend at least 1 month stretches. 2 weeks is doable. 1 week at a time is much more difficult for the body to deal with.


              David Schlosser
              Brewmaster / Founder
              Naked Dove Brewing Company
              Canandaigua, NY


              • #8
                While working for the unionized Stroh's plant in Portland we received an extra 2-3% pay increase for working Graveyard shift. If you worked swing shift this increase was a 1-2% pay increase. Nobody worked the "off shifts" to make more money, just where your shift landed depending upon seniority. It was subject to change weekly and it was very difficult to adapt to each week.
                Mike Jordan
                Boxing Cat Brewery
                Shanghai, P.R. China


                • #9
                  I don't have anything to add regarding compensation, but I can absolutely say that rotating shifts can wreak havoc on people. I worked a non-brewing job for a year where we changed shifts every two weeks, and it was extremely difficult to get into any kind of rhythm. Sleep, diet, social life...all suffered!

                  Cheers, Tim


                  • #10
                    ScottV brings up a good point. After a settling in period, give your brewers an option on length of time on certain shifts. You might be surprised at the needs curve. During college summers I traded to get night shift all summer. Go to work Sunday at 11pm, off Friday morning at 7am. Sleep all day and start partying at 9pm Friday night like it was breakfast beers and I was a Greek endurance God. Ahhh...the old days.


                    • #11
                      One shift craft brewery in my past paid +1.00 for 2ndshift and 1.50 for third. If you figure people were starting (after probationary period) at about $12 that works out to 8.3% for 2nd and 12.5% for third. The problem is that as people stayed with the company the shift became a smaller and smaller amount of their pay. Never made sense to me and I left a manager! I believe these percentages to be good but they need to be just that, percentages. One thing this plant did was everyone shared shift work, no seniority. For most craft breweries you are asking these people to make decisions with no management present. That is a tall order and one that you will sleep better with if your experienced (and compensated) staff are on site while you rest. You will have trouble attracting good talent if they have to be on third shift for a long time waiting for some fat cat to leave. Shift seniority is not a positive workplace building atmosphere proposition (IMHO) for a small company.

                      To take the thread one step further. You should reap some significant efficiencies in running a 24-hour operation. Make sure you consider brewhouse engineering to take advantage of the coverage. Things like a separate mash tun and lauter tun and a separate kettle and WP. Why? Cause if you do it right you can have the brew week done by Wednesday or early Thursday morning. Now you can say to the crew that you have to work shifts but you'll be done on Thursday and have 3 day weekends. It's amazing what that does for morale. In busy times you can have two brewers work 12's and go home early on Thursday morning (i.e. 2 am) to swing off for the weekend (they be happy again). Some plants have the brewers work 3 12"s and pay them for 40. Sounds like a raw deal for the company till you look at what you are paying in overtime. Now these two employees become essentially salaried and payroll more stable which is nice.

                      Final thought. One-month cycles are good. Less is hell.
                      Hope this helps.


                      • #12
                        My experience was a 1.00 per hour shift premium, but after the first couple of months, it did not matter (law of diminishing returns?). Look for vampires that desire the night shift (young people) and treat them well. Make sure they can handle the brewery because calls at 3 am about a stuck mash really suck. Also don't fall for the swap it up every week or two thing because you will only drive your people away. You might have to accept that you will burn through brewers at a faster rate on this shift, normal for graveyard production in any industry. Also, nobody wants (or will stick with) a constantly rotating lifestyle. You can never plan your life and at the end of the day, brewers are brewing for the lifestyle and other factors, not just to get a paycheck, odds are, we could get a fatter check doing something else with daylight hours.


                        • #13
                          Shift differential where I work is 50%. Eligable people are anyone whose job reqires them to work between 10pm and 6am. In the brewhouse and cellar, everyone rotates every week (it's really the only way that's 100% fair), packaging and warehouse employees get scheduled according to production and personal needs.

                          The problem we've run into is staffing people for nights in peak times when production is running 7 days/week.

                          EDIT: it's the way that we've found to be fair. Some people like it, some people don't, I happen to enjoy it and have done so for almost 10 years. Other posters opinions that this is not the best way are totally valid, as well.
                          Last edited by MattyNB; 03-09-2006, 01:18 PM.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MattyNB
                            everyone rotates every week (it's really the only way that's 100% fair), packaging and warehouse employees get scheduled according to production and personal needs.
                            I'd say it's the only way that's 100% equally UNFAIR to everyone. As I noted above based on my own experiences, rotating shifts that frequently is incredibly disruptive to sleep cycles, social life, family responsibilities, etc.

                            Cheers, Tim


                            • #15
                              Having worked and managed off shifts in my former life, I've seen some interesting solutions to this situation, AND to managing the transition:

                              1. Give everyone a chance to work each shift for a trial period of say one month. Let people get a good taste of what it's like after their bodies have had time to adjust.
                              2. Let them decide how to split up the day to get all 24hrs covered. (Consider the option of a shift cycle based on a half-shift delay...instead of days being 9-5, think about an earlier 5-1 shift.)
                              3. Make some sort of "shift premium" available to 2nd and 3rd shift folks no matter what you matter how small it may be.

                              Congrats on the need to add the shift!