Personal lives invade the work environment and work lives invade personal life. That statement rings true to most people these days. However, it takes on special significance in environments with multiple shifts and rotating shift work.
You hear concerns such as:
- “I can’t get enough sleep.”
- “I have no social life.”
- “There goes another ball game for my child I have to miss.”
Shift workers tend to have increased risks for health problems such as:
- Sleep apnea
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, found that people with more exposure to artificial light generate less melatonin; the hormone associated with suppression of cancer-causing tumors.
For some, working grave yard shifts may be their only option, yet their body may be hard wired to function during the day. Others who have rotating shift schedules may have difficulty making any plans or sleeping at all. These challenges become unique to these environments. At best these circumstances affect productivity and at worst these circumstances impact safety, relationships and self esteem. Many of these employees experience special family challenges including divorce because of the work environment. In fact, in the groundbreaking study by University of Nebraska-Lincoln they found that risk of divorce increases almost 60 percent when just one spouse works shift work.
Traditionally, much of these issues have been handled in a reactive way through EAP’s or Employee Assistance Programs. However, a hand full of companies are trying to tackle these problems proactively through what is now deemed as “Lifestyle Training.”
Lifestyle training is providing your employees with the knowledge and tools needed to manage a stressful work environment to the best of their ability. The training typically includes topics such as:
- Tips to improve your sleep
- Nutritional information specific to a shift based lifestyle
- Strategies for balancing personal and professional obligations
- Dealing with heath issues of family members
- Resources for managing a home and life when you function at the opposites times then the rest of the world
- Exercise programs
- Facilities at the workplace to help families interact
There are a number of ways to tackle these challenges. What we do know is that dealing with these issues proactively creates a stronger, more productive employee, family, and work environment. When each of your employees has the capability to be “Present” each shift your environment can be engaged.