Checking the time. Nice positive doctor looking at the time while finishing his shift notes

The Ultimate Guide to Shift Notes: What, Why, & How

By Trevor Sheffield

May 9, 2023

Shift notes are key to ensuring the work happening at a company is completed in the most effective manner possible, without overlap or misunderstandings. They’re especially vital when you’re working with part time employees or when shifts go round the clock. If you’re looking to implement shift notes in your business, this article is a great place to start. Here, we cover what they are, why they’re important, and how to best implement them in your day to day operations.

What are shift notes?

Shift notes are information logs left by one worker as they are leaving their shift, intended to prepare the person replacing them for what’s ahead. For example, in the restaurant industry, it’s important for servers who are leaving their shift to let their replacement know where in the ordering process their tables are. Otherwise, a family halfway through eating their meal might be asked what appetizers they would like. 

Why use them?

Shift notes are a great tool to eliminate confusion while increasing consistency and quality of work among employees. Customers are often left happier as well, especially when shift notes are used in customer service industries. Work tasks do not become pointlessly repeated and employees are in the know instead of feeling confused and uncertain. They are also great when full-time employees will be out for a full day or longer and need projects taken care of by other team members while they are gone.

We recommend applying shift notes to your technique in the following situations:

  • When your employee shifts overlap, leaving work tasks partially done when a person leaves for the day
  • If you notice employee frustration about performing the same tasks multiple times accidentally
  • If you work in a customer-facing industry and your customers are expressing irritation by the lack of seamless service
  • When you notice workflow systems are not working as effectively as you hoped they would

These issues can often be solved by implementing shift notes as part of your required employee regimen. 

How should shift notes be recorded?

The method and format of recording shift notes is up to you. While some businesses employ the use of digital notes, others prefer employees to handwrite their instructions for the next person arriving.

In addition to format, you should specify with your employees what kind of information you want recorded in them. Otherwise, you may end up with a lot of useless data and information that distracts rather than assists. Recording only relevant information will also keep employees from feeling that shift notes are pointless. 

Relevant information includes:

  • Details on projects that are not finished, but are due before the end of the day
  • Information about clients or customers currently in the middle of being served
  • Customer feedback
  • The who, what, when, where, and why of projects and service opportunities
  • Any information about inventory and what needs to be restocked
  • Maintenance information

It’s important to be mindful of how much time your staff are spending in documenting their shift notes. In some industries, staff members feel like they have to spend the bulk of their time writing notes. The easier you can make this process for them, then the happier your staff will be. Consider that a free tip on enhancing worker experience and enhancing your record management system.


If shift notes aren’t something you currently use, they might be worth considering. Whether you have your employees record their shift notes digitally or on paper, it can be highly beneficial to receive a report of what was accomplished during a shift. Additionally, the workers who follow afterwards can benefit from knowing what was already completed so they don’t repeat the hard work of their peers. Consider the information in this article when it comes to implementing this change in your business.

Furthermore, to offer unique value and attract the best medical professionals, invest in staffing agency software in order to streamline your time and attendance, payroll and HR.

Want to learn more about how Timerack can benefit your staffing agency? Book a personalized demo here



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