What Is a Stagger Employee?

Organizations use staggered shifts for a variety of reasons.
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Being a stagger employee simply means that you start and end work at a nonstandard shift time. Staggering is one of three common alternative work schedules companies use, along with flextime and a compressed work week. In a stagger setup, you might start a shift anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours before or after co-workers.


According to the Arlington Transportation Partners website, a primary community benefit of staggered shifts is less congested roadways at peak driving times. Of course, ATP is a public organization looking to help with solutions that improve transportation for everyone. Companies often use employee staggering to have more coverage throughout the work day. Staggered shits may also benefit employees who prefer nonstandard start and stop times at work.

Departmental Stagger

Some companies stagger shift times for entire departments. In this format, all employees in a given department arrive and leave work at the same time. Each department's shift schedule varies from those of other departments. This is beneficial when an organization's departments perform different functions at key times of the day. Some companies have customer service reps arrive at a different time than sales employees and back-end staff in areas like human resources and systems integration.

Individual Stagger

Other companies stagger individual employee schedules. Typically, management sets shift times rather than employees. Companies often stagger individuals to enhance coverage while avoiding the excessive expense of having too many employees performing similar work at the same time. Retailers often use staggering for individual workers, because certain parts of the day are busier and require more workers. Conventional shifts of eight hours don't work as well.

Pros and Cons

Companies can overlap workers on staggered shifts to ensure optimum coverage at peak business times. Some organizations also use staggered shifts as a way to minimize the number of long days employees have to work. This is common in hospitals, where doctors and nurses may have some 12-hour days and a few shorter days. Staggering does present potential in-fighting among employees when they think others have a more favorable shift. Staggering may also make it more difficult for employees to collaborate, though intradepartment and interdepartment communication usually have a period of overlap

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